Bikinian Leaders in Washington, DC, for Congressional Hearings
The Kili/Bikini/Ejit Local Government Council sent a delegation to Washington, DC for two Congressional hearings this week regarding nuclear issues that remain unresolved even though the US nuclear weapons testing ended in the Marshall Islands over 50 years ago. The Bikini delegation consisted of Mayor Alson Kelen, Senator Tomaki Juda, Executive Councilmen Typhoon Jamore and Urantha Jibas, and Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal.
There were also many other Marshall Islanders attending the hearings. There was a delegation from the RMI government that was headed by President Jurelang Zedekiah and Minister of Foreign Affairs John Silk. There were also delegations from Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utrok Atolls, and also a delegation of landowners from Kwajalein Atoll.
On Tuesday, May 18, there was a Senate hearing on Bill 2941 that would allow for better medical care for the nuclear victims of the Marshalls. Because the Bill has both Republican and Democrat support, it came as a surprise when the Obama Administration opposed the Bill. It is uncertain as to when this Bill might be moved forward.
On Wednesday, May 19, there was a 4 1/2 hour hearing and a briefing at the House of Representatives, chaired by Eni Faleomavaega, concerning all of the outstanding issues leftover from the nuclear testing era. High on the agenda for the people of the 4 atolls were:
1) An attempt to get a Congressional referral of our lawsuits against the US so they could get back into the US Federal Court of Claims. They were all thrown out by the Supreme Court earlier this year. This Congressional action would basically force the courts to review our cases.
2) Better medical care and more USDA food for the nuclear victims of the Marshall Islands.
The Bikinian delegation met with their money advisors, USB, to begin discussions about the next fiscal year budget, and they also held discussions with their attorney concerning the budget and other issues concerning the people of Bikini.
The Bikini delegation will be back in the Marshall Islands on Tuesday, May 25.
For more information on the hearings and for photos and transcripts of the testimonies from the Marshall Islands delegations, go to http://www.yokwe.net/
All photos by Jack Niedenthal.