Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day ('Bikini' Day), 1 March, marks the anniversary of the US 'Bravo' nuclear bomb detonation at Bikini Atoll [*] in 1954. The explosion gouged out a crater more than 200 feet deep and a mile across, melting huge quantities of coral which were sucked up into the atmosphere together with vast volumes of seawater. The resulting fallout caused widespread contamination in the Pacific.
Powdery particles of radioactive fallout landed on the island of Rongelap (100 miles away) to a depth of one and a half inches in places, and radioactive mist appeared on Utirik (300 miles away). Radiation levels in the inhabited atolls of Rongerik, Ujelang and Likiep also rose dramatically. The US navy did not send ships to evacuate the people of Rongelap and Utirik until three days after the explosion. The people in the Marshall Islands, and elsewhere in the Pacific, were used as human guinea pigs in an obscene racist experiment to 'progress' the insane pursuit of nuclear weapons supremacy.
Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day is a day to remember that the arrogant colonialist mindset which allowed, indeed encouraged, the horror mentioned above continues today - the Pacific remains neither nuclear free nor independent.
It is a day to think about the many faces of colonisation - physical, cultural, spiritual, economic, political, nuclear, military - past and present; the issues of independence, self-determination and sovereignty here in Aotearoa New Zealand and the other colonised countries of the Pacific; and the ability of Pacific peoples to stop further nuclearisation, militarisation and economic globalisation of our region.
It is a day to acknowledge and remember those who have suffered and died in the struggle for independence around the Pacific; those who have opposed colonisation 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.