Tahitian anti-nuclear advocates mark 51st year since testing began

Moruroa e Tatou's Roland Oldham ... "never ending" story of nuclear health struggles. Image: Moruroa e Tatou

Pacific Media Watch News desk

Tahitians will today mark the 51st anniversary of the first French nuclear weapons test in the Pacific as advocates still press for justice and better compensation.

The French military carried out the first of its 193 nuclear tests at French Polynesia’s Moruroa Atoll, about 1250 km southeast of Pape’ete, on this day in 1966 after the testing programme was moved to the South Pacific from Algeria due to the War of Independence.

The tests — some were also carried out at Fangataufa Atoll — ended three decades later in 1996.

The pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira party, led by former territorial President Oscar Temaru, who declared his community of Fa’aa “nuclear free” in 1983, has launched a petition for alleged human rights violations which it plans to submit to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

Roland Oldham, head of French Polynesia’s nuclear veterans organisation Moruroa e Tatou, says even though former nuclear workers were dying, their descendents continue to face the problem of nuclear fallout.

Talking to Radio New Zealand’s Dateline Pacific, he said:

“I would say that the story of nuclear [testing] will never end. We know when it started but we don’t know when it’s going to end. It seems to me there is no ending because of what we know exactly of the situation, of what we know about the health and about the environment is still very very alarming for the future generation.”

Oldham is just back from the UN Conference on a Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons.

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