ONLINE PETITION SEEKS SUPPORT FOR MARSHALLS VICTIMS

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By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 10) – Marshallese activists are seeking international support for an online petition seeking justice for victims and survivors of 67 nuclear tests carried out in the Marshall Islands from 1946 to 1958.

Activist Kyle Kajihiro said many of the nuclear test survivors are sick and unable to get adequate medical treatment and monetary compensation that the U.S. promised them "because the U.S. refuses to increase the allocation for compensation."

The Justice for Nuclear Survivors petition has been submitted to thePetitionSite.com, a free Web service for citizens advocating democratic issues.

The petition, which targets 5,000 signatures, has so far gathered 390 supporters from different countries.

"We ask the American people to educate yourselves on the injustices that we Marshallese suffered as a result of your 67 atomic and nuclear tests," reads the petition posted on thePetitionSite.com on March 1, marking the 53rd anniversary of the Bravo H-bomb test conducted on March 1, 1954 on Bikini Atoll.

The Bravo H-bomb test was the most powerful nuclear explosion that destroyed entire islands and displaced the people.

"The survivors are organizing to push the U.S. and the Marshall Islands government for justice. They need more pressure on the U.S. government to accept the petition for additional funds to be added to the trust fund that pays out nuclear claims," Kajihiro stated in an e-mail mass-sent to international human rights groups and supporters.

"It is a band aid, but the least the U.S. can do for the genocidal policies the U.S. conducted in the Marshall Islands," he added.

Fellow activist Maria Ramirez said the bombings in the island of Vieques left toxic wastes that continue to contaminate the land.

She said the United States’ cleanup operations "are not careful of the islands’ ecosystem or do they use the best technology available to minimize the contamination."

When the Compact of Free Association was negotiated in 1986 between the U.S. and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the full extent of personal injury and property damages sustained from the U.S. nuclear testing program in the Marshall Islands was not fully known.

But since the Compact came into effect, new information surfaced after the Clinton administration declassified pertinent documents as part of its Openness Initiative that began in 1993. The declassification of the documents was also a response to new scientific understanding about the health and radiation exposure.

In September 2000, the Marshall Islands government submitted the Changed Circumstances Petition requesting Congress to appropriate a cumulative amount of US$557.9 million for personal injury awards to Enewetak people, medical programs and infrastructure developments.

 

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