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Anti-nuclear protests, Marshall Islands

Justin Corfield

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Oceania » Australasia

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics anarchism, ecology, peace, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00101.x


The Marshall Islands were ruled by Germany until World War I, when they were taken over by Japan and ruled under a mandate from the League of Nations. After World War II the US navy took control of them, with the United States controlling them as a United Nations Trust Territory from 1947. Between 1946 and 1958 the United States used the Marshall Islands for nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll and at Eniwetak. The first major political protest in the Marshall Islands took place in 1982, when over 1,000 landowners who had been dispossessed from Kwahjalein Atoll took part in Operation Homecoming, fighting for four months against missile testing on their atoll. This led to other protest groups campaigning against US nuclear tests, although the Marshallese held back from introducing an anti-nuclear constitution as was the case in nearby Palau. There were a number of protests against the use of the Marshall Islands for US nuclear tests, but there was little publicity for these until 1985 when the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior sailed to Rongelap Atoll to help relocate some of the people away from the nuclear waste. There was a large protest in 1996 when the people from Bikini Atoll commemorated the 50th anniversary of their forced evacuation so that the US could conduct nuclear tests. They had been moved to Rongerik Atoll where many fell ill from eating poisonous fish, while others nearly ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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