Displaced from their island on March 7, 1946, the Bikinians’ home was subjected to 23 nuclear tests between 1946 – 1958. Forced to move to Rongerik, an atoll 1/6th of the size of Bikini, the new location proved to be inadequate in supporting its new inhabitants and their needs. With insufficient infrastructure, inadequate land, poisonous fish, and no potable water, the Bikinians were starving within weeks.
"FOR THE GOOD OF MANKIND"
The proud people of Bikini Atoll originally inhabited the northern edge of the Ralik Chain of atolls in Micronesia. Skilled canoe-builders and navigators, the ancient seafarers introduced and cultivated crops on their fruitful land, living sustainably and without foreign influence until the 1820’s. In 1946, the Bikinians were exiled from their homeland, when the United States asked them to sacrifice their atoll “for the good of mankind and to end all world wars”.
Following 23 nuclear detonations, the people of Bikini are now spread across multiple islands and the United States, still longing for their chance to return home. Although they were promised fair compensation for their “temporary” displacement and that the US would be good stewards of their land such that the people could resume living on their beautiful islands, this simply has not happened.
More than seven decades have passed since the Bikinians were exiled. Determined to find a way back home, Mayor Anderson Jibas is leading efforts to revive Bikini and to bring his people home. By fighting to gain control of their own funds, Bikinians are striving to improve their health, education, transportation, agriculture, and to protect themselves from the effects of the planet’s climate crisis.
A Brief History of Bikini Atoll
The World's First Nuclear Nomads
2016 marked the 70th anniversary of the removal of the Bikinian people from their ancestral lands. Since 1946, the Bikinians have resettled as many as eight times. With three of the islands being vaporized by Castle Bravo, there are some nuclear refugees who will never be able to return home.
The Legal Plight of the Bikinian People
Despite initial promises by the United States that their land would be restored, the atoll is still plagued with radioactive contamination.
For their sacrifice, the Bikini People have been awarded a trust, the Resettlement Fund, by the United States, only to be told that they do not have control over their funds or budgeting. Elected Mayor Anderson Jibas has a new vision for his people; in order to bring that vision to life, they must first gain control of their finances so they can allocate budgets where they are needed most. After all, nobody understands the needs of Bikini better than the Bikinians themselves.
Other Relevant Cases, Articles, Testimony
US Senate Report, RMI Supplemental Nuclear Compensation Act, 2010
Report to U.S. Congress, Changed Circumstances Petition, May 2005
U.S. Report (Dept. of State) on Changed Circumstances Petition, Nov. 2004
Jonathan Weisgall Statement before U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee, 2010
Dr. Neal Palafox Testimony, before U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee, 2010
NUCLEAR CLAIMS TRIBUNAL
Compact of Free Association
Petition to the United Nations following Bravo detonation, 1954
Petition from the Irooj to the UN Concerning the Trust Territory of the Pacific, 1951
Calin Georgescu, U.N. Special Rapporteur, Report on the Implications for Human Rights, Mission to the Marshall Islands and United States, 2012
Environmental Treaties, Declarations
Dreams for the future
To take control of the Resettlement Fund is to finally have control over their own future. With the help of experienced consultants, the people of Bikini will invest the funds for the greatest return. This will in turn support tourism, raising awareness, and developing appropriate infrastructure, land restoration, and kickstart income-generating projects.
Promoting a vision of sustainability, infrastructure, and growth, Mayor Anderson Jibas is advocating for the future of Bikini. Through appreciation for its history, increasing tourism and taking action against climate change, the People of Bikini Atoll are ready to take their future back into their own hands.
When Will it be Safe to Live on Bikini Atoll?
Nearly a century in exile, radiation contamination still has not subsided. As determined by the United States, radiation levels of 100 millirems per year are considered standard and safe. Bikini still registers at radiation levels exceeding 184 millirem per year, making it it unsafe for resettlement.
Comparatively, New York’s Central Park has radiation levels of 8 millirem / year. Despite studies being conducted to monitor radiation levels, without prompt actions to actively reduce and contain lingering radioactivity, Bikini will continue to be uninhabitable. At this point, it is still unclear when the Bikinians will be able to return back to their atoll, but with decisive action there is still hope!