[103rd Cruise Report]Indigenous peoples, their lands and Uranium mining


A guest educator from Australia, Ms. Debbie Carmody, talked about the radiation damages done by the uranium mining and the nuclear testings and also the damages on the environment. Debbie is a Spinifex Anangu woman who manages the Aboriginal radio station Tjuma Pulka in Kalgoorlie, which is about 600km from Perth. Her people were displaced from their homeland when the British and Australian government conducted nuclear testings in Maralinga. And they had to move into a place only 50 kms from the proposed uranium mine at Mulga Rock. Debbie poetically told stories of culture, history and the land of her people which was making us feel like we were dreaming. However, her story dramatically changed into something realistic when her people met the railway brought into their land by the White people. Although her people and White people interacted, the nuclear testings began to destroy and pollute the land, water, wind, air and the lives of her people. It was when her people stood up to fight. The suffering of her people is hard to put into words. Paying a great deal of sacrifice, Debbie and her people eventually wins the land ownership at the supreme court.

Nevertheless, their fight did not end there. Because their land holds uranium, miners are threatening the living sphere of the local animals. Uranium mining requires lots of water and taking away the lives of local plants. Facing their fight that will continue into the future, Debbie told us that the uranium mined from her land ended up in Hiroshima and Fukushima and created environmental refugees like her people. She told us her stories so that the history of suffering will not repeat in other people’s land. She will keep telling the stories to fight for peace and justice.

A Peace Boat staff commented holding tears in her eyes, “The story we heard today was about an aboriginal people family, and not a happy story, but we learned a lot from the story. We have to realize that Hibakusha doesn’t just exist in Japan but do exist globally. We greatly appreciate that Debbie shared us her story.”

We were honored to welcome another woman from Australia, Ms. K.A. Garlick, on the stage. K.A. works for an environmental protection group, working against uranium mining for 40 years with Debbie. Thanks to their effort, there is no uranium mining happening in Western Australia. She declared to continue working against uranium mining and any use of nuclear energy in the world.