Pacific islanders will continue to oppose US military live fire exercises

No to war games Image © http://www.chamorro.com

ENVIRONMENTALISTS and civil society movements from Saipan and Guam said they will continue to oppose the United States’ military live-firing range in Guam and Tinian due to its destructive effect on the environment and the threat it poses on endangered species.

This was learned from the Zero Coalition, including members of Tinian Women’s Association; Pagan Watch, Guardian of Gani and their Guam counterpart Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian. Their peaceful protest, like the solidarity wave held last month, will be designed to call the community’s attention to the dangers of the live fire military exercises.

The protests will be like a coming together of people from NM and people from Guam.

In fact, in Guam, they held a solidarity wave at the same time that we did it here,” said Kelly Marsh, a member of Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian.

“In Guam, we are saying that Litekyan (a national wildlife refuge in Guam) is home to endangered species, it has traditional medicines, those are plants we want to save,” she said.

Marsh added that Litekyan has been set aside as place for endangered and threatened species and “the last thing that we should be doing is putting the live fire training there that is going to shoot 6.7 million bullets a year.”

Cinta Kaipat, co-founder of Alternative Zero Coalition, said they took advantage of the presence of their Guam counterpart to hold joint solidarity peace rally last month.

“We have been supporting each other through virtual media and now we actually get to stand in the same piece of ground together.”

“First of all, we advocate peace and we are here to say that our islands are not to be used for destructive purposes that our lands are precious and limited and we need to save them not only for ourselves but also for our children,” Kaipat said.

Kaipat added they held solidarity wave to raise awareness to inform the community of the danger of allowing the U.S. military using Pagan and Tinian for live-fire bombings and other training exercises.

“It is not like you can grow an island in a day that you can afford to give islands away and say you can go and take that island and bomb it and destroy it. We are talking about irreparable destruction of our precious natural resources or land,” Kaipat said in an interview.

“We hope to have our leaders wake up and stand beside us and understand that this is a very serious issue that deserves their immediate attention. It is a call to action for our leaders to speak out in a unified voice to the military and say no for using our islands for live fire practices.
Kaipat clarified that they support and encourage a readily trained military.

“We whole-heartedly support that but there are thousands and thousands acres of places where they have provided and allow them to train. These are not the only places, there must have places for them to train.”

According to Kaipat, Pagan is in danger of destruction.

“They are talking about plans of bombardment of air, land and sea in Pagan. Pagan was never part of the equation. It never came up in the discussion when our forefathers were talking about being in a political union with the US.”

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