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Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day, 1 March

29 February 2000

Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day, 1 March 2000

Kia ora,

Tomorrow is Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day. It is the 46th anniversary of the US 'Bravo' nuclear bomb detonation close to the surface of Bikini Atoll which gouged out a crater 240 feet deep and 6000 feet across, melted huge quantities of coral, sucked them up and distributed them far and wide across the Pacific.

The island of Rongelap (100 miles away) was buried in powdery particles of radioactive fallout to a depth of one and a half inches, and Utirik (300 miles away) was swathed in radioactive mist. The people of Rongelap and Utirik lived on their newly radioactive islands for three days, inhaling, touching and ingesting the fallout particles, until the US navy sent ships to evacuate them.

This is but one example of the horrific racist experiments that colonising governments have inflicted on the peoples of the Pacific, used as human guinea pigs in the insane and pointless pursuit of nuclear weapons supremacy.

Tomorrow is Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day. It is a day to remember that the arrogant colonialist mindset which allowed, indeed encouraged, the devastation mentioned above continues today - the Pacific is still neither nuclear free nor independent.

Pacific peoples have been, and continue to be, displaced from their homes and lands for the most bizarre reasons - to make way for nuclear bomb explosions, missile testing ranges, military training, bombing ranges, mining, factories, roads, hydro schemes, settlers and sheep ... dispossession, displacement, desecration of land and spirit, despair. The cycle of destruction is clear - yet there is little willingness on the part of the settler peoples nor of the governments within (and outside) the Pacific to acknowledge it, let alone to work for positive solutions. Even were that willingness to be found, it is no longer clear that Pacific governments are in a position to exercise or devolve sovereignty because of the economic stranglehold of the TNCs and international financial institutions.

Tomorrow is the day to pledge your support to continue the struggle for a nuclear free and independent Pacific - as the theme of the 1999 NFIP conference says "No Te Parau Tia, No Te Parau Mau, No Te Tiamaraa - E Tu ... E Tu ..." ("For justice, for truth and for independence - wake up, stand up !").

It is also the day to acknowledge and remember those who have suffered and died in the struggle for independence around the Pacific; those who have opposed colonialism in its many forms and paid for their opposition with their health and life; and those who have suffered and died as a result of the nuclear weapons states' use of the Pacific for nuclear experimentation, uranium mining, nuclear weapons testing and nuclear waste dumping.

Kia manawanui, kia u, kia kaha to all who are working for a nuclear free and independent Pacific.

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Peace Movement Aotearoa PO Box 9314, Wellington, Aotearoa / New Zealand tel +64 4 382 8129, fax +64 4 382 8173, pma@xtra.co.nz http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/ the national networking group for peace people

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