May 30, 2016 – While the country celebrates Memorial Day and thanks veterans and serving military for their service to our nation, American citizens are about to be forcibly evacuated from an island they’ve inhabited for 3,000 years.
The people of the Northern Mariana Islands in the western Pacific decided in the 1970s to not seek independence, but instead to forge closer ties with the United States. They established a commonwealth in political union with the United States in 1975. Like other U.S. territories, the islands do not have representation in the U.S. Senate, but, since 2009, are represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by a delegate who may vote in committee, but not on the House floor.
In 2013 the US Navy and Marine Corps announced their intention to turn all of Pagan Island (pronounced “pa-GAHN”) in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands into a live-fire bombing range and training area. The military requested “unfettered and uninterrupted access” to the island, which means the people are to be forcibly removed. Pagan is called “the jewel of the Pacific” because it’s pristine and biologically rich but also fragile. It has been the ancestral and spiritual home of the Chamorro and Carolinian peoples for more than 3,000 years, with recorded history dating back to the 1300s, and is being proposed as an ecotourism resort.
Because of a 1981 volcanic eruption that caused temporary relocation of many but not all residents, families who had to leave the island have been wanting to return ever since. Some residents never left and still live there. “It is one of the most habitable islands in the Mariana chain,” said Dr. Michael Hadfield, a biologist at the University of Hawaii who has studied the island’s unique flora and fauna. Unfortunately, the government has for decades denied resettlement to most of the island’s former residents who have applied, and now the Navy and Marines claim the island is “uninhabited,” which is not true. Because of the volcano they say it’s “too hazardous” for resettlement. And they intend to forcibly evacuate the island’s remaining residents so bombing can commence in 2017.
According to the Los Angeles Times, massive, “guns-blazing war games on Pagan at least 16 weeks a year” would allow aerial, naval, field artillery, grenade, mortar, laser, and rocket bombardment. The Navy says it’ll be a good steward of the island, but with more than 700,000 live rounds to be fired yearly, that’s hard to imagine. And with fewer than 600 of the island’s 11,680 acres officially surveyed for cultural resources, how would the military know where not to bomb? More than 180 historic sites are known on the island, 110 of which are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Contractors working for the Navy identified six of those sites, after which the Navy discontinued the survey. That is the military equivalent of shoot, shovel and shut up.
A disturbing chain of events and manipulation has led to this crisis: READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE