September 21, 2012: Dear Colleagues, – September 13, 2012 was an historic day at the United Nations and in the Marshall Islands. On this day the Human Rights Council considered for the first time the environmental and human rights impacts resulting from the radioactive and toxic substances in nuclear fallout.
And on this day Marshall Islands citizens stood for the first time before the United Nations Council to offer survivor testimony on United States nuclear weapons fallout on the environment, health and life.
This moment was generated by the report of Mr. Calin Georgescu, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and waste, on his mission to the Marshall Islands and the United States and his exploration of the human rights consequences of nuclear contamination. Special Rapporteur Georgescu reported that despite decades of US assistance and intervention, there is persistent abusive human rights conditions resulting from the nuclear weapons testing and related environmental contamination. He noted that the environmental health consequences of nuclear testing and remaining obligations were acknowledged in the 2008-2009 President's Cancer Panel which recommended that the US "honor and make payments according to the judgments of the Marshall Islands Tribunal." Observing that US has yet to fund Nuclear Claims Tribunal judgments beyond the initial $150 million allocated in the 1980s, and he concluded that the Marshallese lack the means, infrastructure, and technical capacity to find durable solutions to the dislocation to their indigenous ways of life. He called for the immediate development of a national and regional plan for nuclear security and restoration of a sustainable way of life, similar to the initiatives undertaken for the benefit of affected-populations by States that historically carried out and continue to carry-out nuclear testing programmes. Issue-specific recommendations offer a framework by which truth, justice, and reparation might achieved through actions involving the Marshall Islands Government, the United States, the UN and its specialized agencies and institutions, and other members of the international community.
In the ensuing interactive dialogue between Nations, Institutions, and NGOS, speakers recognized the continued presence of radioactive contaminants in the Marshall Islands and reaffirmed the existence of a special responsibility by the United States towards the people of the Marshall Islands, and the need for continuing and increased levels of bilateral cooperation. They also called for radioactive waste, environmental contamination, and related human rights issues of nuclear militarism to be adequately addressed bilateral and through the United Nations system. And some nations called for similar action and assistance in the other nations which played host to nuclear militarism.
Eyewitness accounts of the nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands by the United States were given by Jeban Riklon, who was born on Rongelap Atoll and experienced fallout from the March 1, 1954 Bravo Test. He described how in earlier tests they were evacuated, yet on this day no one that a nuclear bomb would be detonated, and no precautionary measures were taken. His community was not evacuated by the United States until two days later, and by then people were experiencing severe radiation poisoning. They were brought to a military encampment and enrolled in Project 4.1 to study the effects of radiation on human beings, a research that continued for years, involving children who were forced to endure painful procedures.
Lemeyo Abon, President of the ERUB (association of Marshallese nuclear survivors), also described the explosion of the bomb Bravo on Bikini Atoll, which was detonated just 180 km upwind from Rongelap Atoll where she had lived. In addition to the suffering so many years ago, she described how the immensely painful consequences are felt even today, with the birth of babies with missing limbs and other congenital defects.
Abacca Anjain-Maddison, President of Iju in Ean club (Rongelapese Women's Club), called upon the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council to work collaboratively with all parties to move the Special Rapporteur recommendations into action. She also expressed that strong concern that the current "ultimatum of the United States to force the Rongelap community to return to a contaminated environment will represent a new level in human rights abuses perpetuated by the US against the Marshallese."
I have posted a full summary on the Human Rights Council discussion in a CounterPunch article published this week:http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/09/17/nuclear-betrayal-in-the-marshall-islands/
I include below the links to Special Rapporteur Calin Georegescu's report, the Marshall Islands comment, and the webcast of the report presentation and interactive dialogue. Please write to me if you would like copies of the Marshallese oral statements.
And, please read. Spread the word. Use this! Despite the historic nature of the report and testimony, the silence in mainstream press is deafening.
Source: by Barbara Rose Johnston, Center for Political Ecology,