Anne's Blog

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Nuclear Testing Survivor - Ms Lemeyo Abon - speaks out

April 27, 2006

Honolulu, Hawaii;

Ms. Lemeyo Abon, a young girl in March 1, 1954 when the strongest hydrogen bomb code named 'BRAVO' was detonated on Bikini Atoll and radioactive fallout exposed her people living downwind from the test site, returned today from participating at the Forum on the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. Ms. Abon was saddened to learn how many lives the accident had ruined, especially the young ones.

Twenty years ago, April 26, 1986, just a bit after midnight, the accident at
the nuclear reactor number 4 exploded and caught unaware thousands of
people, many of them children who were exposed to radiation. Many of the
children then are of child-bearing age now, but some are reluctant to start
any family for fear of the uncertainties.

The experts in the radiation exposure field attended the Forum and presented
their progress reports on Chernobyl and plans for the future. Ms Abon from
the Marshall Islands traveled the farthest to be in solidarity with the
Children of Chernobyl. She represented ERUB, the organization of survivors
of 67 nuclear and atomic tests - 1946-1958.

Ms. Lemeyo Abon's Testimony
20th Anniversary of Chernobyl
April 24 - 25, 2006


Today, I stand before you as a survivor of nuclear fallout from the Marshall
Islands. I am honored to be here in solidarity with the people and Children
of Chernobyl as we observe the 20th anniversary of the catastrophic accident
that touched and altered hundreds and thousands of lives forever.

My name is Lemeyo Abon. I come from Rongelap atoll in the Marshall
Islands. The Marshall Islands are located in the middle of the Pacific
Ocean - thousands of miles away from the United States. But, the United
States chose these tiny atolls for its Nuclear Testing Program. A total of
67 atomic and nuclear tests were exploded between 1946 to 1958.

When the military official asked the Bikini people to use their land for the
good of mankind he did not tell the truth that he did not know what the
effects of such tests would bring, and that he did not know when the people
would return to their homeland. He misled them to believe that the
relocation was temporary and the people could return home after a week or a
few months. That was not true. It is now 60 years since the Bikini people
were relocated away from their homeland and 52 years for the Rongelap
people. We can not go back home because the United States has not allocated
enough funds to clean the contaminated lands.

On March 1, 1954, the United States military exploded the strongest hydrogen
bomb called 'BRAVO' on Bikini atoll. 'BRAVO' was 1,000 times stronger than
the A-bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. I don't know if there ever was a
stronger bomb than Bravo!

What happened to Chernobyl 20 years ago is similar to what happened to us.Â
As information of the accident at the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl was kept
secret from the people and the world, so was information about nuclear
fallout from "BRAVO" kept secret from us living downwind from the test site.

So when the radioactive powder descended from the sky we children began to
play with it. We rubbed it on our bodies and in our hair. Hours later,
everyone was sick with the typical symptoms of nuclear exposure.

See, the U.S. military officials knew 72 hours before that the wind
direction had sifted toward our islands, but they did not warn us. No body
told us about what to do in case of an accident. We were not evacuated
until 2 days later.

We are convinced that we were used as guinea pigs to study the effects of
radiation in human bodies. Now it is not only us who are sick with cancer,
but our children and grandchildren have inherited our cancer diseases. Many
of our people are sick with all type of cancer disease, most commonly
thyroid cancer. Younger mothers continue to give birth to severely deformed
babies as you see in these photos from last year (hold up photo).

Yet the United States Department of Energy who monitors the health of survivors from
"BRAVO" insists that these cases are NOT related to nuclear exposure.

We say, they are.

We say, treat our children until there is proof that they are not sick from
radiation.

We do not care about ourselves as we are already sick, but we care about our
children and their future generations.

We do not want them to suffer as we have.

We say, United States, do not turn your back on the great injustice that our
people have endured as result of the nuclear tests. Do not count how much
money it will cost to treat the survivors in the Marshall Islands.

Stop the war in Iraq and divert the funds to treat our children.

I stand before you today to ask for your support for the survivors in the
Marshall Islands in pushing the United States to bring justice to the people
by making sure that funding to treat their cancer diseases, for cleaning the
contaminated land and bring it to its natural state continues.

I ask all of you who believe in solidarity to help shame the United States
of America to admit the injustice that they have done.

HELP US ACHIEVE JUSTICE.

Justice means
1) provide the medical treatment needed,
2) include the children and grandchildren,
3) clean-up the contaminated land, and
4) compensate those who have lost their homeland forever!

I have with me the Survivors in the Marshall Islands Petition; if you
believe in Justice, please come forward and sign it.

This year is especially special as survivors, supporters and concerned
groups come together to observe these nuclear milestones: Chernobyl's 20th
anniversary, Bikini & Bravo,s 52nd, Hiroshima & Nagasaki's 60th anniversary
late last year, Moruroa, Tahiti's 40th and the Marshall Islands 60th
anniversary since the U.S. started its testing program.

For the sake of our children of Chernobyl, the children of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, the children of Tahiti, the children of the Marshall Islands and
children everywhere where there's the past and present history of nuclear
test and contamination - let us renew our pledge to work toward a nuclear
free and safe world for them.

God bless everyone.
Thank you for this opportunity to be part of this Forum.

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