ACTION ALERT: Stop Pentagon's Plan to Seize and Bomb Pagan Island
May 26, 2015 Petition by Arley Long / Change.org & David S. Cloud / The Los Angeles Times<
The small Pacific islands of Pagan and Tinian are home to pristine beaches, majestic mountains and colorful sea life. Now the Pentagon has plans to use Pagan -- the "Crown Jewel" of the Marianas -- for "live-fire training." The US Navy's plans to bomb these islands, would obliterate rare coral ecosystems, wildlife, and important historic artifacts. The Islands residents would be forced from their ancestral lands -- all for the sake of bomb testing. We cannot let this happen.
(May 6, 2015) -- The Academy of Our Lady of Guam's History and Culture of Guahan, Class of 2015 created this video campaign in solidarity with the rest of the Marianas Islands. The United States military has made plans to use our islands as living firing ranges without consenting the indigenous people that inhabit these precious islands. Please share to express your support and solidarity with the Marianas.
STOP THE US MILITARY PLANS
TO TAKE SACRED LANDS FROM THE
NATIVE PEOPLE OF THE MARIANA ISLANDS
Petitioning President of the United States,
United States Department of Defense,
US House of Representatives and US Senate
Don't Drop Bombs in my Backyard! Petition by Arley Long
TINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands (May 24, 2015) -- The small Pacific islands of Pagan and Tinian are home to pristine beaches, majestic mountains and colorful sea life. They are also home to 2,800 American citizens, as they are part of the Marianas, a US territory.
The US Navy has plans to bomb these islands as part of a training exercise, obliterating their rare coral ecosystems, wildlife, and important historic artifacts. The islands' residents would be relocated, kicked off their ancestral land for the sake of bomb testing. We cannot let this happen.
Residents of Pagan and Tinian have always had the fighting spirit. In World War II, the islands were taken over as a base of operations by both sides, but the islanders held onto their land. In 1981, a volcano forced a total evacuation of Pagan.
But the residents did what they had to do to get back, because these islands are our home, the only home we've ever known. Now, the US military wants our islands to play war games with our home.
We need the Secretary of Navy to cancel plans for Combined Joint Military Training exercises on Tinian and Pagan Islands.
The bombings would restrict the use of two-thirds of my island of Tinian, leaving only 10 square miles for its people, and rare and endangered wildlife. On the island of Pagan, the Navy wants to relocate the entire indigenous population so that they may bomb 100% of the island.
Our pristine beaches would become theaters for elaborate live-ammunition military exercises, and our people's traditions and culture would be all but extinguished.
The residents of Tinian and Pagan are citizens of the United States, just like you. But since we are so far from the mainland and have no representation in Congress, our voices are often not heard. Now, we are crying out to make sure our homes are not demolished, and our 4,000 years of history are not lost forever.
We only have one home. We can't let it be destroyed. Please join us in asking the Secretary of Navy to cancel his plans to bomb Tinian and Pagan.
The person (or organization) who started this petition is not affiliated with Change.org. Change.org did not create this petition and is not responsible for the petition content.
Change.org. 548 Market St. #29993, San Francisco, CA 94104-5401, USA.
(May 17, 2015) -- The tiny Pacific island of Pagan is a lost world of deserted black sand beaches, feral pigs and huge fruit bats. Two active volcanoes, one at each end of the spoon-shaped isle, rise over a deep blue horizon.
A rusting Zero fighter plane lies near a derelict Japanese-built runway still pockmarked with craters from an American bomber attack seven decades ago in World War II. Now, if the US Marine Corps gets its way, Pagan will go to war again -- regularly.
The Pentagon has proposed leasing the entire 18-square-mile island in the Northern Marianas to practice live-fire amphibious invasions with fleets of warships and planes, just like days of yore.
The back-to-the-beaches proposal is in response to the US military "rebalance" in the Western Pacific, partly to counter China's growing clout, that President Obama announced four years ago.
Precisely why the Marines need so much training in beach assaults is unclear. They haven't done one in combat since the successful invasion of Incheon on the Korean peninsula 65 years ago.
Yet plans call for guns-blazing war games on Pagan at least 16 weeks a year. Hundreds of Marines, potentially joined by troops from Japan, Australia and South Korea, would storm ashore in landing craft, firing mortars and small arms, backed by naval bombardments, swarms of helicopters, drones, fighter jets and perhaps B-52s dropping real bombs.
The plan has sparked an outpouring of resentment toward the US military, fueled by strong sentiment that Pagan's future should be determined by the people of the islands, not by Washington.
"We love our island. We don't want to give it up," said Jerome Aldan, the 40-year-old elected mayor of the Northern Mariana Islands. "This proposal is going to turn it into a wasteland."
Aldan was 6 when the eruption of Mt. Pagan forced the island's residents -- about 100 families in all -- to evacuate 200 miles south to Saipan, capital of the Northern Marianas, a US commonwealth territory. The military, he fears, will turn Pagan into a war zone and kill the families' decades-old dream of returning.
Marine Corps officials say Pagan is the only island available with beaches large enough for major amphibious maneuvers. They would repair the old Japanese runway, now peppered with hardened lava, to ferry in supplies. They would set up bombing targets on the slopes of Mt. Pagan, which last spurted lava in 2010.
"This is a perfect training opportunity for us," Craig Whelden, executive director of Marine Corps Forces in the Pacific, said in an interview. "It's also a beautiful island with some endangered species. We would protect it like it was our own."
The Marines do live-fire training at many bases, and practice beach assaults with landing craft at Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, and at Camp LeJeune, N.C. But Pagan offers much more.
A draft Navy environmental impact report, released in April, says Pagan would "provide the maximum available flexibility … in a nearly unconstrained environment."
"Training units would develop a detailed plan for … amphibious assault, ground maneuvers, air, artillery, mortar and naval gunfire," the 1,300-page report says. The report concluded that most of the effects of the live-fire exercises could be "mitigated."
With as many as 5,000 Marines due to move to Guam in the next decade, the Pentagon says it badly needs training sites in the Western Pacific. Guam is too heavily populated for large-scale war games. Pagan, 330 miles to the north, is easily reachable by ships and aircraft.
If war returned to the Pacific, Pentagon planners say, Marines might have to fight on the beaches again. China is building its own amphibious invasion capability and has become more assertive about pressing territorial claims to islands and atolls also claimed by US allies in the region.
The Pentagon already uses Farallon de Pajaros, the northernmost island in the Marianas, as a practice range for naval gunfire and bombing. Pagan would give the Marines more flexibility for training.
Some former residents want to turn the tropical island, which has rare flora and fauna, including the threatened humped tree snail, into an ecotourism resort. Some want to resume ranching or harvest copra (dried coconut meat). Some want it left alone.
The Marines counter that the two volcanoes makes resettlement too hazardous. A few homesteaders have gone back, living without sewers, schools or shops. "It is dangerous for anyone to stay on Pagan," said Whelden, a civilian Marine Corps official who is leading talks with the Northern Marianas government.
To defuse opposition, the Marines have announced that they would scale back their plans, using inert bombs in some cases and limiting use of live bombs to a so-called High Hazard Impact Area on Mt. Pagan.
If the Marines reach a deal to lease the island, beach landings aren't likely to start before 2017. If they fail to reach an accord, local lawmakers are nervous that Congress could take the land by eminent domain under the terms of the 1975 compact between Washington and the Marianas.
Some local lawmakers have suggested that the Marines confine their training to Tinian, another island where the military already leases two-thirds of the land. The Marines could not practice full-scale beach assaults there, however.
The Pentagon has insisted it needs both islands and isn't willing to compromise.
Tinian, about twice the size of Pagan, is best known as the takeoff point for the US planes that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, ending the war in the Pacific. Today it hosts a casino, among other amenities.
The Marine Corps says its plans would bring much needed investment and jobs to the isolated and largely impoverished archipelago.
"The economy is going to benefit," Whelden said. "There's going to be hundreds of millions of dollars in construction contracts, and to the extent we can use local contractors, use local food, it will maximize the benefits."
That puts local officials in a difficult spot. The Marianas' economy has collapsed over the last decade as a once-thriving garment industry has moved elsewhere. But opposition has grown so widespread that many here doubt that Gov. Eloy S. Inos ultimately will approve a lease.
Hundreds of residents turned out for a recent community forum at Garapan Elementary School in Saipan, and speaker after speaker denounced the Pagan plan. "Don't bomb a small island," said Stanley Torres, a former legislator.
In April, the Federal and Foreign Affairs Committee in the Marianas House voted 19-0 in favor of a resolution for Inos to "oppose any and all proposed military use of Pagan." The measure is waiting action in the full House.
"What is it that they can't understand?" Arnold I. Palacios, floor leader of the Northern Marianas Senate, asked of the Marines. "The people are saying no. They just keep saying, 'We want to bomb.'"
"We've made a stand," said Rep. George Camacho. The military assumed that "it could just plant the flag" and that "we're still savages in grass skirts," he said.
The governor has yet to announce his view. He told a local newspaper recently that he planned to meet soon with Aldan, who is leading the opposition, "to make sure we're on the same page."
Aldan went to high school in Kansas while living with an uncle who was serving in the military at Ft. Riley. His son serves in the US Army. A faded US Marine Corps sticker is on his dilapidated truck.
He's not about to surrender. In a contentious meeting with Whelden, he recalled the Marines' sacrifice to free the islands from Japanese control in World War II.
"I told him, 'You liberated us. Now you are going to destroy us.'"
(MAY 15, 2013) -- Pagan Island, the "Crown Jewel" of the Marianas, is again slated for certain environmental devastation, this time by a proposal from the US Military to use it for "live-fire training" which includes everything from artillery to bombing.
If this is your first time viewing this blog, please see previous posts for the full story on Pagan Island and the efforts to stop the previous proposal by Japanese investors to use it as a dumping ground for 2011 tsunami debris.
Pagan is a small island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). It is one of the most biologically and geologically diverse islands in the archipelago, and is home to many threatened and endangered species, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.
Aside from its stunning beauty and rich ecological resources, Pagan is also one of the most habitable of the northern most islands in the CNMI. In fact, this island has supported the ancestors of Pagan islanders for over 3,000 years, as evidenced by Chamorro stone ruins found skirting her beautiful beaches.
The US Military plans to occupy ALL of Pagan Island for live-fire training and military exercises, ignoring the indigenous rights of Pagan Islanders, and the devastating environmental impacts that such activity will certainly cause.
The clearing required for live-fire training, and the ballistic disturbances resulting from such actions (which could include everything from artillery to bombing) will most certainly jeopardize Pagan and cause, disturbances to its rich agriculturally and ecologically valuable topsoil, an increased risk of fire during dry summers, erosion and consequent destruction of Pagan's coral reefs, and would risk extinction of Pagan's unique flora and fauna.
These disturbances, combined with the unexploded ordinance and toxins that are sure to be left behind, will render this island uninhabitable for centuries to come. This is unacceptable.
The US military has a long history of destroying Pacific islands. US atomic testing on and around Bikini atoll rendered numerous Pacific islands uninhabitable until today. Kaho'olawe, an island of comparable size and environmental sensitivity in Hawai'i was used for "live-fire training exercises" (predominantly bombing) and was left barren and littered with unexploded ordinance. Essentially all of the unique flora and fauna of Kaho'olawe are gone forever.
The US Military has already destroyed Farallon de Medinilla, another island in the CNMI, which it used for bombing and military exercises. In addition, large portions of Guam and Tinian are currently occupied for Military purposes.
This US Military Proposal to use Pagan Island is unethical on all accounts and will cause the destruction of another island and the consequent disenfranchisement of more indigenous people of the Pacific.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.