The Honorable Anderson Jibas
A wise man once said: “Three things cannot be hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” Here is some truth: In 1946, the United States moved our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers and their families from Bikini Atoll, our lovely homeland, to a small rock in the southern Marshall Islands, a small island called Kili, with no lagoon and no shelter from the ocean. Why? So that the United States could test nuclear bombs, some of which were one-thousand times as powerful as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Three of our islands were vaporized. Today, only a handful of those who were moved from Bikini Atoll in 1946 as little children still survive. The descendants of those who were moved in 1946 now live on Kili Island, on Ejit Island, Majuro, other parts of the Marshall Islands, in the United States, and a few in other countries. We have been called “nuclear nomads.” We cannot go home because the United States has not kept their promise to return our islands to the pristine condition the United States enjoyed when they took our land.
Today, we have a vision of a thriving and beautiful eco-friendly community of people and businesses and hotels and diving tourism, and cruise ships in Bikini Atoll. This vision is being made possible by many very recent events, including the ability of the elected leaders of Bikini to convince the United States that the People of Bikini can themselves best manage the use of their very limited Trust Funds. This has allowed us, the People of Bikini to quickly start projects that will ensure long-term revenue, provide jobs, to begin the process of the cleanup and resettlement of Bikini Atoll, and to improve the lives of the People of Bikini.
Another truth is that the United States has explicitly said that they will not complete the assistance and funding needed to help the Bikinians in the cleanup and resettlement of Bikini Atoll. So, as my administration is an administration of action, we are helping ourselves. We have the vision of working together with partners in providing a highly attractive site for a showcase of high technology in alternative energy systems, understanding that Bikini as well as all low-lying countries have to plan for rising sea levels due to climate change. This means mitigating erosion, providing drinking water, and providing dwellings to withstand the effects of climate change. Bikini Atoll is a United Nations World Heritage Site and we welcome people to explore the importance of Bikini as recognized by the United Nations. People know the word “Bikini” – made famous by a French designer who named his 2-piece swimwear after our homeland. We offer our islands for world-class environmentally-friendly development.
If the United States continues to refuse to return Bikini Atoll to the pristine condition it was before they tested nuclear bombs, then the People of Bikini have to try to garner international support and partners to help us clean up all of Bikini Atoll so that it is safe for resettlement by the People of Bikini.
For tourism development, we will revive the diving onto WWII ships that the U.S. sank in Bikini Atoll as part of the nuclear bomb testing, and we will remove radiated soil on the amount of land our budgets will allow us to, in order to build a hotel and other dwelling places for visitors on safe and non-radiated land. However, the whole atoll should be returned to the pristine condition it was in when the United States took our islands from us.
As the prophet Buddha once said “Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” So with that good advice, and with the help of God, we recognize the past injustices, and we dream of the possibilities in the future, but our job here and now is to concentrate our minds on the present moment as we develop a mutually beneficial relationship with partners, individuals, organizations, and governments.
We are doing our part actively, with full recognition of the words uttered by Bikini’s leader as the people of Bikini left Bikini in 1946, “Everything is in the Hands of God.” In Marshallese, it is “Men Otemjej Rej Ilo bein Anij” or MORIBA.
Thank you and may God bless us all.