Marshall Islands Resists US Pressure
Majuro, Marshall Islands, August 6th, 2001: The Marshall Islands government today dropped a deportation case against New Zealand Greenpeace activist, Richard (Alice) Leney.
Alice had broken no laws. But the Marshall Islands government has been under great pressure from American authorities to deport him from Marshall Islands for his peaceful opposition to the Star Wars programme. Today the Marshall Islands government dropped the case.
Instead the Minister of Foreign Affairs will issue a special order, requiring Alice to depart the Marshall Islands as soon as he receives his passport, or when his visa expires later this month, whichever occurs first.
Alice had been camping on a small island in Marshall Islands for the last three months in order to bear witness to U.S. testing of the Star Wars missile defence system from the Kwajalein Missile Range.
Alice had arranged a "peace picnic" for local people on the day of the missile test. Even with his arrest, around 60 local people picnicked and watched the launch from Meck Island near the missile range.
Greenpeace anti-nuclear campaigner Steve Campbell says "The Republic of Marshall Islands has today shown itself to be a free country, despite the US government's attempts to force it to quash free speech and protest."
"It's encouraging to see that on the anniversary of the US's bombing of Hiroshima, one government has decided not to bow to new US military pressures," says Campbell.
The United States conducted 66 atmospheric Nuclear Tests in the past in the Marshall Islands, and Alice has a long history of working with radiation victims resulting from those tests.
"The US should fulfil its responsibilities to the people of the Marshall Islands still suffering from those nuclear tests and deal with outstanding compensation issues, rather than involving them in a new nuclear arms race," says Alice Leney.
The Marshall Islands' decision comes as 15 other Greenpeace activists face conspiracy charges following the delayed launch of the Star Wars missile in Vandenberg, California three weeks ago. Two journalists who documented the protest face the same charges.