Message to Maohi Nui

Jul 17, 2021 | News

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons (ICAN) Australia extends our warm regards and solidarity for the Maohi Lives Matter event on 17 July 2021 in Papeete, Tahiti, as you mark the anniversary of the “Centaur” nuclear test in 1974.


We recognise the sorry history of nuclear weapons tests in Moruroa and Fangataufa from 19661996, and the still unfolding harms these caused throughout Maohi Nui. We also recognise the resilience and determination of the people of Maohi Nui to seek justice and accountability for these nuclear acts.


In Australia, too, we carry a legacy of harm from the testing done in developing the nuclear weapons of another foreign power. These harms were disproportionately experienced by Indigenous people, causing disruptions to connections with land, culture and food sources and ongoing injury to health and environment. The harms were also experienced by personnel used in the nuclear tests and the many communities across the wide fallout zones. Systemic denial and obfuscation of the truth of the harms has caused grief to generations. We share this story with many of our Pacific neighbours and stand in solidarity with our friends in Maohi Nui.


In 2007, ICAN Australia launched a global campaign to seek a ban on nuclear weapons. Joined by partners and campaigners across the globe, we saw this ban become a reality when Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted in the United Nations, just ten years later, in 2017. We received a Nobel Peace Prize for the work with nations to push for this new international law.


Central to the work of our campaign has been the recognition of the shared story throughout our region and across the world of nuclear harms. The nuclear weapons tests of the United States, the British and the French over half a century in the Pacific region brought significant harms. As independence and sovereignty continue to grow across the region, the silences that were imposed by colonial forces have been lifting.


With the new nuclear ban treaty, we have seen a vital change in international law. Those with the lived experience in our region, the survivors of nuclear harms, and those who hold the vision for nuclear free futures, have generously offered their expertise, testimony and experience to help educate the world about the nuclear threat. Through this, we now have international recognition of the unacceptable suffering and harm caused to those who experienced nuclear weapons use and testing. There is now acknowledgement of the disproportionate harm to Indigenous peoples, and to women and girls affected by ionising radiation, as well as to our environments from nuclear use.
Nuclear weapons have been made illegal. The Treaty, which entered into force in January of this year, opens many opportunities for global understanding and collaboration, for remediation of harms, and elimination of the ongoing threat of these weapons.


As you gather in Maohi Nui on the 17th July we offer our deep respects to your leaders and community members who have long spoken out against the harms imposed by these weapons. We have heard your calls for nuclear justice. We continue to listen closely when you speak of the lived experience of the testing years and the ongoing harms. We hope we can work towards building closer understandings of our shared experiences across our region. We support all calls for remediation of the places still impacted by nuclear weapons testing, and for greater studies and assistance for those whose health has been impacted.


We offer our respect, our solidarity and our commitment to work together for nuclear justice.


With sincere regards,


Dimity Hawkins AM
On behalf of ICAN Australia

You can view the official event papers (in French) here.