ENEWETAK SENATOR ISHMAEL JOHN REMEMBERED IN MARSHALLS

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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, November 22) – A "time of national mourning in observance of the death of the Honorable Senator Ishmael John" has been declared in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The order for the mourning period, from November 23 through November 29, was signed late yesterday afternoon prior to the arrival of the Senator's body from the Philippines. A long-time representative of Enewetak Atoll, Senator John, 74, passed away in Manilla early Tuesday morning, November 14.

"Senator John will always be remembered for his courage during a tumultuous period in the history of humankind, and in particular for having been a beacon of hope for the Marshallese people as we continue to seek justice for ourselves, those remaining and our dearly departed," said Acting President Witten T. Philippo.

The late Senator John was only one of two remaining members of the Nitijela (National Parliament) who had served as a senator since the first Constitutional Regular Session of Nitijela in 1979, said the Government release.

"The Republic of the Marshall Islands will always be indebted to Senator John for advocating, on behalf of the Republic, the crucial and unresolved nuclear issues affecting our people," said Minister Philippo on Thursday.

In an interview with Senator John in 2000, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin covered the Senator's decades-long crusade to get adequate compensation for his island and people. As a teen-age in 1947, John remembers the US government ordering the Navy to evacuate everyone from the low-lying Enewetak Atoll so it could be used for atomic weapons testing. "Chiefs back then didn't have enough time to make informed decisions and were pressured to vacate the small chain of islands," he said.

Senator John was known for his frankness and strong support for his people. During a rally on Nuclear Survivors' Day in March 2004, John said, "I won’t back down." He told others, "Don’t be scared just because America has all the guns," reported the Marshall Islands Journal.

"It's the United States, not the Marshall Islands government, that must shoulder the responsibility for health care," John said, when the 177 health program, which was provided for 17 years under the first Compact with the U.S., was closing in 2004.

"Our wounds (that the U.S. caused) will never heal," he said, referring to the legacy of 67 nuke tests in the Marshalls, the last in 1958. Enewetak was ground zero for 43 of the tests.

In April 2006, Senator John joined a class lawsuit with the people of Enewetak against the U.S. Government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeking compensation and/or damages under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution for several separate takings by the U.S. of Enewetak land and lagoon.

It isn’t an easy challenge to seek fair compensation from the United States, but Marshallese need to "hold hands and work together" to make their case, said John, whose efforts over the years for Enewetak people encouraged all his fellow countrymen.

Minister Philippo, on behalf of the President and the RMI, extended the official condolences to the late Senator's family and the people of Enewetak. Late Wednesday evening, the RMI Honor Guard, Members of Nitijela, Cabinet Members and Senior Government Officials, escorted the late Senator from the airport to the Nitijela (Parliament) Chamber. After a day-long State observance at the Chamber hall, the body will then be taken to the family’s residence, according to the President's Office.

All flags of the RMI and other flags will be flown at half-mast during the mourning period.

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Senator Ishmael John was right with his job but he only wanted money for him just like the new senator and Mayor who wiped out enewetak people but I will come back and show that we who live on America want equal rights ....

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