Zohl de Ishtar (1999) ''War, Violence, Terror, Genocide' - The Pacific Experience'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 4, no. 2, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/4/2/ishtar.html>
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Received: 14/06/99 Accepted: 20/07/99 Published: 29/07/99
"We are already dying from nuclear war while you are thinking how to prevent it."
Chailang Palacios, Northern Marianas.
(de Ishtar, 1994:20)'War, Violence, Terror, Genocide'. I am asked for a "Rapid Response".
Darlene Keju-Johnson (Marshall Islands): "Now we have this problem we call 'jelly-fish babies'. These babies are born like jelly-fish. They have no eyes. They have no heads. They have no arms. They have no legs. They do not shape like human beings at all. But they are born on the labour table. The most colourful, ugly things you have ever seen. Some of them have hairs on them. And they breathe. When they die they are buried right away. A lot of times they don't allow the mother to see this kind of baby because she will go crazy. It is too inhumane (de Ishtar 1998:17)."
Roti Tehaevra (Te Ao Maohi): "We have deformed babies here. I know some women who gave birth to children with no hands, no ears, the feet are not fully made. It is a crime against humanity! (de Ishtar, 1997:117)"
Lijon Eknilang: "I was eight years old at the time of the Bravo test on Bikini. It was my birthday, March 1 st. I woke with a bright light in my eyes. I ran outside to see what was happening. I thought someone was burning the house. There was a bright light that consumed the sky. ... Soon after we heard a big noise, just like a big thunder, and the earth started to move - the ground started to sway and sink. ... A little later in the morning we saw a big cloud move to our islands. It covered the sky. Then it began to snow in Rongelap. ... For many hours poison from the bomb kept falling on our islands. We kids were playing in the powder, having fun, but later everyone was sick ... We started to feel itchy in our eyes ... Towards evening our skin began to burn ... The next day the problems got worse. Big burns began to spread over our legs, arms and feet and they hurt very much. Many of us lost our hair. Of course we did not know that the snow was radioactive. ... The serious internal and external exposure we received caused long-term health problems that affected my parents' generation, my generation, and the generation of my children (de Ishtar, 1998:21 -22)."
Darlene Keju-Johnson: "The Rongelap people know that they are contaminated. They know that they will be dying out soon. They are dying now - slowly (WWNFIP, 1987:10)."
Darlene Keju-Johnson: "In Enewetak Atoll there is one little island called Runit. It is off-limits forever. After the testing the US tried to clean up the radiation on Enewetak. It collected all the nuclear debris from the southern islands (the northern islands were too contaminated) and dumped it into a bomb crater on Runit. Then they covered it up with concrete. It is a huge dome. Now the scientists are saying that it is already leaking. But they say that it doesn't matter because the lagoon that the dome is leaking into is already radioactive. There are people living only three or four miles from there. Runit Island will not be safe from contamination for 250,000 years (de Ishtar, 1994:21)."
Chailang Palacios: "I ask, why are they doing this to us? I think it is because we are all Black people. I believe that racism is at the base of the whole nuclear issue. You wouldn't be testing in the Pacific if it was populated by Whites (de Ishtar, 1994: 191)."
Jossey Sirivi: "I'm the wife of the 'most wanted man' in Bougainville, being married to the BRA [Bougainville Revolutionary Army] General. ... I became a mother on the run as the PNG Defence Force hunted us down. ... I was seven months pregnant and the difficulties I faced made life and the journey very hard. ... Being pregnant, I was put through real suffering. Traversing through rugged mountains and wild terrain, I finally gave birth to a daughter ... I was in labour for two full days without any medical assistance whatsoever. ... I was very ill because I had retained some afterbirth and my mother, administering bush herbal potions to expel the retained placenta, saved my life. I felt so ill I could not feed my baby properly for a week. I couldn't sleep for the pain from blood clots I retained. A week later I resumed my journey on foot not knowing how my baby would survive (de Ishtar, 1998:52-54)."
Isabella Sumang: "We voted against the Compact ten times, then the last time, the eleventh time, it passed. We voted, and voted, and voted, and voted against the Compact. We say 'no' ten times and they don't take 'no' for an answer, they you say 'yes' one time and they take that. In American democracy you vote and vote until you get the right answer. That is not democracy. At least the people should have to vote 'yes' ten times (de Ishtar, 1998:70)."
Isabella Sumang: "One 'yes' hooked us into the US military, at least for the next 50 years, and possibly forever. The Compact gives the US the authority to install military bases, to bring in nuclear capable vessels and aircraft. They can take any land with 60 days notice and it must be given to them. It can alter the sites and when it's finished it has no obligation to restore the land to its original state. ... Now the US says, 'This land that you cultivate for your food, whenever I want to I can take that away from you - any time I want, any size I want, for any purpose I want - for military, for nuclear.' ... Why is it that people who live many, many miles away from my island can take my land? (de Ishtar, 1998:70-74)"
Cita Morei: "When the foreigners came they saw the men in the abai, meeting house, they decided that the men were in charge. The women were left alone. They were left alone in the taro patches ... The taro patch is a place to tell women what is happening. When you tell them they will tell others. Taro-patch politics is very influential. It is a sort of sacred place in a way. You are thinking about the land. You are thinking, 'This is what I value.' You are not thinking of politics or money. You are thinking about what it is to be Belauan. And that is played out in the taro patch. You get to thinking: what are our priorities, what are our needs, what are our weaknesses? If we want to keep coming to the taro patches we have to look after Belau. We've got to keep on going. Taro-patch politics. Men, they think about politics, they think about money. But women have been strong, because of the taro (de Ishtar, 1994:57)."
Kalama'okaina Niheu: "We did not want to have our Queen overthrown. We did not want to have the United States land on our shores. We did not want our lands stolen from us. ... we resisted and refused ... We never gave our consent. We have never given up our sovereignty. The Kanaka Maoli people have repeatedly and constantly rejected the colonisation of our peoples and lands. Our people have repeatedly said, 'No. We do not want you here. Go home!' They said it in a million different ways. They said it in song, they said it in actions, they said it in armed rebellions and they said it in plain language - 'Go home!' (de Ishtar, 1998:7)"
Hilda Halkyard-Harawira from Aotearoa (/New Zealand): "Our movement encompasses many issues. We are united by the threats to the well-being of the Pacific. For me the NFIP [Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific] movement is a liberation movement, a survival movement. It is a peoples' struggle, a grassroots movement. It encompasses all social, political, cultural, and economic considerations for Pacific peoples. It is each country working on its own issues in their regions and networking with each other. That is the NFIP movement (de Ishtar, 1994:231)."
The scars will remain as Theresa Minitong, from Bougainville says: "What has been done to my people will be remembered for a long time. Our children and their children will remember it. It will be a scar on the memory of the people (de Ishtar, 1994:211)."
They are offering their wisdom to the world and inviting us all to work with them. As Darlene Keju-Johnson, from the Marshall Islands, said: "We are only a few thousand people out there on tiny islands, but we are doing our part to stop this nuclear madness. And although we are few we have done it! Which means that you can do it too! But we need your support. We must come together to save this world for our children and for the future generations to come (de Ishtar, 1998:20)."
Lorenza Pedro of Belau: "First know that we exist: we are not on your maps of the world. Then tell other people (de Ishtar, 1994: 251)."
DE ISHTAR , Zohl (1997) "A Broken Rainbow. Pacific Women and Nuclear Testing" in Ronit Lentin, Gender and Catastrophe. Zed Books, London.
DE ISHTAR, Zohl (1998) Pacific Women Speak Out: for Independence and Denuclearisation. Raven Press. Christchurch.
WWNFIP (1987) (Women Working for a Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific) Pacific Women Speak: 'Why Haven't You Known?'. Green Line. Oxford.
Danielsson, Bengt and Marie-Therese Danielsson (1977, 1986) Poisoned Reign. French Nuclear Colonialism in the Pacific. Penguin Books, Melbourne.
de Vries, Pieter and Han Seur (1997) Moruroa and Us. Polynesians' experiences during Thirty Years of Nuclear Testing in the French Pacific. Centre de Documentation et de Recherche sur la Paix et les Conflits, Lyons.
Dibblin, Jane (1988) Day of Two Suns. US Nuclear Testing and the Pacific Islanders. Virago London.
Maclellan, Nic and Jean Chesneaux (1998) After Moruroa. France in the South Pacific. Ocean Press, Melbourne.
Robie, David (1989) Blood on Their Banner. Nationalist Struggles in the South Pacific. Pluto Press, Sydney.
Robie, David (1992) Tu Galala. Bridget Williams Books, Wellington.
Tubanavau-Salabula, Losena, Josua M. Namoce and Nic Maclellan (1999) KIRISIMASI: Fijian troops at Britain's Christmas Island nuclear tests. KIRISIMASI: Na Sotia kei na Lewe ni Mataivalu e Wai ni Viti e na vakatovotovo iyaragi nei Peritania mai Kirisimasi.
Pacific Concerns Resource Centre, Fiji. Obtainable through: Pacific Concerns Resource Centre, 83 Amy Street, Toorak, Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. ISBN 982-9018-01-6. In English and Fijian.
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