Thousands in Pape’ete mark 56th anniversary of first Moruroa test

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Thousands take part in the peaceful nuclear-free rally in the Tahitian capital Pape'ete
Thousands take part in the peaceful rally in the Tahitian capital Pape'ete at the weekend marking the health and environmental impact of the French nuclear tests. Image: Polynésie la 1ère

RNZ Pacific

French Polynesia’s nuclear test veterans have called for July 2 to be made a public holiday to remember the impact of France’s nuclear weapons tests on the local population.

The call was made as more than 2000 people gathered in the Tahitian capital Pape’ete to mark the 56th anniversary of the first test at Moruroa Atoll, which is still a French military no-go zone.

The annual commemoration was organised by Moruroa e Tatou and Association 193, whose name refers to the number of atomic tests carried out over three decades.

The groups keep demanding that France pay compensation for those affected by the tests.

Since 1995, the local health system has paid out US$800 million to treat a total of 10,000 people suffering from any of the 23 cancers recognised by law as being the result of radiation.

Picture taken in 1971, showing a nuclear explosion in Moruroa atoll.
An atmospheric nuclear explosion at Moruroa atoll in 1971. Image: RNZ/AFP

The head of Moruroa e tatou, Hiro Tefaarere, described the tests as France’s largest case of “genocide”.

The head of the Māohi Protestant Church, Francois Pihaatae, said the truth about the tests begins to be known.

After ending the tests in 1996, France continued to claim until 2009 that none of the tests had any negative effect on French Polynesians’ health.

A compensation law was adopted in 2010 and despite its revision, most claims have failed.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

View of the advanced recording base PEA "Denise" on Moruroa atoll, where French forces have conducted nuclear weapon tests until 1996.
The debris of the nuclear testing monitoring bunker Denise on Moruroa Atoll … still a French military no-go zone. Image: RNZ/AFP
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