(Extensions of Remarks - June 17, 2014)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E998]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                       HON. ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA

                           of american samoa

                    in the house of representatives

                         Tuesday, June 17, 2014

  Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commend my good 
friend, the Honorable Tony A. deBrum, who has served the Republic of 
the Marshall Islands (RMI) with distinction and honor as Senator, 
Minister in Assistance to the President (Vice-President), Minister of 
Foreign Affairs, Minister of Health and Environment, and in other 
notable capacities.
  Senator Tony deBrum was born in 1945 and grew up on Likiep atoll at 
the height of the U.S. nuclear testing program in the RMI. From 1946-
1958, the U.S. exploded 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands and, 
in 1954, detonated the Bravo shot on Bikini atoll. Acknowledged as the 
greatest nuclear explosion ever detonated, the Bravo shot vaporized 6 
islands and created a mushroom cloud 25 miles in diameter.
  In his own words, the Honorable Tony deBrum, states:

       I am a nuclear witness and my memories from Likiep atoll in 
     the northern Marshalls are strong. I lived there as a young 
     boy for the entire 12 years of the nuclear testing program, 
     and when I was 9 years old, I remember vividly the white 
     flash of the Bravo detonation on Bikini atoll, 6 decades ago 
     in 1954, and one thousand times more powerful than 
     Hiroshima--an event that truly shocked the international 
     community into action.
       It was in the morning, and my grandfather and I were out 
     fishing. He was throwing net and I was carrying a basket 
     behind him when Bravo went off. Unlike previous ones, Bravo 
     went off with a very bright flash, almost a blinding flash; 
     bear in mind we are almost 200 miles away from ground zero. 
     No sound, just a flash and then a force, the shock wave. I 
     like to describe it as if you are under a glass bowl and 
     someone poured blood over it. Everything turned red: sky, the 
     ocean, the fish, and my grandfather's net.
       People in Rongelap nowadays claim they saw the sun rising 
     from the West. I saw the sun rising from the middle of the 
     sky, I mean I don't even know what direction it came from but 
     it just covered it, it was really scary. We lived in thatch 
     houses at that time, my grandfather and I had our own thatch 
     house and every gecko and animal that lived in the thatch 
     fell dead not more than a couple of days after. The military 
     came in, sent boats ashore to run us through Geiger counters 
     and other stuff; everybody in the village was required to go 
     through that.

  Shaped by what he witnessed, Tony deBrum determined to become an 

       I think that's the point that my brain was taught that. I 
     did not consciously say at the time, I am going to now be a 
     crusader. Just a few weeks after that, my grandfather and I 
     went to Kwajalein, where they had evacuated the people of 
     Rongelap, where they were staying in big large green tents 
     being treated for their nuclear burns and exposure. All the 
     while, incidentally, the United States government was 
     announcing that everything was OK, that there was nothing to 
     be worried about.

  Unconvinced, Tony deBrum not only became one of the first Marshall 
Islanders to graduate from college but he worked for 17 years to 
negotiate his country's independence from the United States. As an 
eyewitness to nuclear explosions, he also became one of the world's 
leading advocates for nuclear disarmament calling upon the parties to 
the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to stop the spread of nuclear 
weapons and pursue the peace and security of a world without them. In 
2012, Tony deBrum was awarded the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's 
Distinguished Peace Leadership Award. Previous recipients include 
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, King Hussein 
of Jordan, and Jacques Cousteau.
  In April 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed the Nuclear 
Zero Lawsuits--unprecedented lawsuits against all nine countries that 
possess nuclear weapons for their failure to negotiate in good faith 
for nuclear disarmament as required by the NPT. The landmark cases 
signed by RMI Foreign Minister Tony deBrum are now pending before the 
International Court of Justice in The Hague and the U.S. Federal 
District Court in San Francisco. As a Pacific Islander and as the 
Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the 
Pacific, I applaud the RMI and especially Tony deBrum for taking a 
stand against the nuclear weapon giants. ``No nation should ever suffer 
as we have,'' Foreign Minister Tony deBrum has stated, and I agree.
  I also agree that we should spur greater commitments in international 
climate change negotiations, and I commend Foreign Minister Tony deBrum 
for galvanizing more urgent and concrete action on climate change. As 
an architect of the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, Foreign 
Minister Tony deBrum has been unrelenting in vocalizing his concerns. 
In 2013, he addressed the United Nations Security Council on the threat 
posed by climate change to the long-term viability and survival of the 
Marshall Islands. During climate talks at the United Nations, he stated 
that ``we are not just trying to save our islands, we are trying to 
save the entire world.''
  I declare my sincere and heartfelt commitment to a nuclear-free world 
and a world committed to putting climate at the top of its diplomatic 
agenda. In so doing, I honor Tony deBrum as a leader, activist, friend 
and brother by placing his name and work in the Congressional Record 
for historical purposes.