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Fiji : veterans of British nuclear tests
20 Dec 1999
today's media release from the PCRC on the bill passed in the Fijian parliament giving pensions to the Fijian veterans of British nuclear weapons tests.
PENSION FOR FIJI'S CHRISTMAS ISLAND VETERANS
The granting of pensions to Fiji's Christmas Island veterans is an important step in recognising the rights of Fijians who witnessed British nuclear tests in the Pacific, according to the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC).
PCRC welcomes the passage of a bill through Fiji's Parliament, to give pensions to Fijian soldiers and sailors who participated in the British hydrogen bomb tests at Christmas Island and Malden Island. Together with British and New Zealand forces, nearly 300 Fijians served under British military command when the United Kingdom conducted nine atmospheric nuclear tests in 1957-58. Until today, they have received no pensions or compensation from the British or Fijian governments for their service at Christmas Island, unlike Fijians who served in World War Two and Malaya.
"Forty years after they went to Christmas Island and Malden Island, Fiji's nuclear veterans and their families are now eligible for pensions through Fiji's Aftercare Fund," states PCRC Director Lopeti Senituli. "We are pleased to see that the Bill to amend the Aftercare legislation received support from both Government and Opposition in the House and Senate. We also welcome strong statements by many Members of Parliament, calling on Britain to assume its moral and legal responsibilities for Fijians who served under British military command at the time of the nuclear tests."
In June, the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre published the book Kirisimasi, which includes the eyewitness testimony of former Fijian military personnel who served at Christmas Island in the 1950s. The book documents cases of veterans with serious illnesses such as chronic myeloid leukemia, aplastic anaemia, and skin complaints, which they attribute to exposure to radiation from the nuclear tests.
Senituli added: "Even though nuclear testing in the Pacific ended in 1996, there are still outstanding issues that the nuclear powers must address".
Pacific Concerns Resource Centre.
Link to main page on Fiji.