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Quotations from

Poison Fire, Sacred Earth



ISBN 3-928505-00-9

The following voices are excerpted from the collection now living in WorldUraniumHearing:

What kind of a civilization is it, what kind of humanism is it that plunders and destroys the sacred sites of power of traditional cultures due to its measureless hunger for resources and energy, that in its mania for progress literally walks over corpses, and everything that cannot be integrated and digested is shoved aside in blind ignorance and usually destroyed? Can such a humanism, can such a civilization truly speak about justice and human rights and praise all these high ideals without losing its credibility? . . .
-- Prince Alfred Von Liechtenstein in the Welcoming Message

I hope that one day history in the future will show who the true primitives are. . . . I will continue to work with you and with anyone to preserve and protect my culture. It seems that the true E.T. is Edward Teller. . . . But in regard to all of this culture on a world-wide basis, I think it was best said by, or at least one of the great sayings was by an author, Peter Farb, who wrote the book "Men's Rise to Civilization". In there, and I quote: "Man is quick to prevent cruelty to animals, sometimes to humans, but there is no counterpart to the Humane Society or the Sierra Club for the prevention of cruelty to entire cultures."
-- Russel Jim, Yakima Nation, Manager of the Environmental Restoration Waste Management Project

We need an independent expertise on an international level. The scientists from the native population have to be among them. We have to know how long we still have to live, and the most important thing is, we have to know the truth -- even the bitter truth -- about the health of our children. At this international meeting I learned the whole truth, even the most bitter truth, all the sufferings of the people of the terrestrial globe. . . .
Scientists! Why do you kill small nations, the aborigines? What bad things did we do, why did we become guinea-pigs? Scientists! Relinquish your doctor-knowledge, become people and not murderers! Authorities! Come to your senses! You ruined generations. We doctors do not want to harvest the fruits of your experiments. Stand in the place of the doctors and look in the eyes of dying people, of suffering mothers, or, even better, resettle there in these sorrowful corners! Wake up!
-- Dr. Anna Ledkova, Nentsy Nation, Novaya Zemlya, CIS. Child-ophthalmologist

. . . the most profound question is: At whose expense and in whose interest is the mining done in our area? At whose expense are our people suffering? Is it not because of the German or the British or the USA citizens? Our people know very little about Rio Tinto. They know it only as the Palabora Mining Company and they don't know that this is one of the largest companies in the world which is committing all those atrocities. Before I came here, I also didn't know about all the dangers involved in radiation, but because of the knowledge you shared with me, I'll go back home and tell our people about what is the cause of their diseases, and from there we are going to take up campaigns in an attempt to stop uranium mining in our country.
-- Matome Patrick Malatji, South Africa. Itereleng Educational Project, Phalaborwa

It is well-known that there are three ways to destroy a people's identity: by fighting against them with weapons, substituting their language, and by changing radically their nutritional habits. France has become a real expert in these three methods. . . .
In my native language, the neo-Maohi, they call the earth "fenua". The placenta nourishing the baby in the womb is called "pu-fenua". In fact, for my people, the earth is related to the fertility of the mother, which is the "te pu-fenua", the center of the earth. When a child is born, the placenta is traditionally buried and a tree is planted on that spot so that the cycle of life can be restored.
That's the reason why I am a militant of the "Tavini Huiraatiraa", the Polynesian Liberation Front. I want the independence of my country and the French nuclear experiments to stop. That's also why I believe in and I struggle for the creation of a new state with national sovereignty on the chess-board of the United Nations.
-- Clariza Lucas, Maohi Nation, Tahiti, Polynesia. Representative of Tavini Huiraatiraa (Polynesian Liberation Front), works in a social assistance program, representative of 18 Women's Committees

And I told them if the children die, there would be no keepers of the land. They didn't listen.
And I told them if they destroy the sky, machines would come and soon destroy the land.
They didn't listen . . .
-- Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Dakota Nation, Singer, poet and actor

This challenge -- it asks of us to evolve a different relationship with uranium, with plutonium, with the poison fire. . . . more and more citizens are beholding, seeing, recognizing that this legacy must be guarded responsibly. Ground level storage on sight, and so we know better what to do with it, keep it visible with minimal transportation on sight where it is ecologically feasible. . . It is as if we don't know what to do with this unless we make it serve us, and that is exactly what I am beginning to think, that we cannot ask of the poison fire. If we want to make it serve us, it will kill us, and perhaps the plutonium is saying to us something like this: Look at me, just look at me. I cannot be your slave, I cannot serve your ambitions and your comforts. You cannot use me to fight each other. Just look at me and if you look at me, guarding me, keeping me out of the biosphere for the sake of your future generations, then I will become your teacher. And in the act of beholding me and guarding me, you will awaken to your courage and to your faithfulness and to your solidarity with each other.
-- Lecture by Joanna Macy, Nuclear Guardianship, The Search for New Perspectives

It is not a normal situation when the people who are in charge of the fate of a whole civilization lie quite openly to the whole world.
-- Dr. Vladimir Chernousenko, Scientific Director of the Chernobyl "clean-up"

We must reiterate for the world records: The nuclear weapon's production-chain has and continues to endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of indigenous people around the world. From the Aborigines in Australia to the Western Shoshone people in Nevada to the peoples of the French Pacific, indigenous peoples have witnessed the destruction of their lands and their children by this diabolical monster. We must unite beyond our race, religion or class and put an end to this madness! Our land and its people are the Creator's most precious recources' and we can no longer act as co-conspirators in this death and destruction through our own silence. Our voices must drown out the cries and the screams of Mother Earth, the tears of the mountains, the deserts and the waters must be replaced with chants, songs, poems and prayers for an end to this nuclear nightmare. . . .
We know that the scientists say that there is a controversy over the health effects of low radiation, but I am here to tell you, my friends -- along with the others -- that low radiation doses is deadly, dangerous and it causes death. Death through leukemia, death through cancer.
-- Mildred McKini McCain, African-American, Member of Citizens for Environmental Justice

[W]hat we label as a crisis in our environment is equally as much a crisis within ourselves, a crisis of human consciousness and values. And there are several dimensions to this that actually serve as hidden driving forces for the ecological crisis, and I'll just mention a couple of them. One is the psychological pollution of continual bombardment of corporate advertising and the consumer culture, another is the dominance by an hegemony of the masculine gender and related problems of class and racial oppression. A third is the epistemological tyranny of western science and market economics. And finally, the spiritual bankruptcy of secular technological modernism.
Now, if we ignore these aspects of our current dilemma, then the solar technologies that I have outlined above could actually, I think, serve to hasten ecological collapse, because energy would be removed as a constraint on a forward stampede. However, if we embrace these deeper dimensions accounting for their physical, social, cultural and spiritual implications, then solar energy and renewable sources can provide abundant energy for all human societies on earth and free us once and forever from the ravages of fossil fuels and nuclear power.
-- Lecture by Dr. Bill Keepin, Beyond Nukes, The Promise of Renewable Energy

[T]he effective half-life of this radioactivity is 80,000 years. So it means in 80,000 years, there will be half as much radioactivity in these tailings as now. You know, that dwarfs the entire prehistory of the Salzburg region which goes way back to ancient, ancient times. Even archeological remains -- 80,000 years. We don't have any records of human existence going back that far. That's the half-life of this material. And as these tailings are left on the surface of the earth, they blow in the wind, they wash in the rain into the water systems, and they inevitably spread. Once the mining companies close down, who is going to look after this material forever? How do you in fact guard 200 million tons of radioactive sand safely forever?
-- Lecture by Gordon Edwards, Known Facts and Hidden Dangers of Uranium Mining

Why does [France] have no qualms at all in keeping secret all medical information about atomic sites of the last 25 years? This information would help to know about the actual state of health of the island's communities living in the peripheric zone of Moruroa and of all those people who had to work out there. Hiding behind the national defense secret service, France prohibits civil and independent laboratories to check the radioactivity level referring to samples taken personally in the atoll of Moruroa and in the forbidden zones.
-- Gabriel Tetiarahi, Tahiti, Polynesia. Delegate of Te Hui Tiama (Ligue Polynésienne Indépendante des Droits de L'Homme), President of the Human Rights League

However marginal, our homeland is what makes us who we are. It identifies and makes clear our purpose in life. Soon after birth we have a ceremony, where our umbilical cord is buried in our land to symbolically tie us to our land and people forever. Just as Christians have principles they adhere to, we have similar fundamental principles that are taught daily from childhood on. These teachings instruct us to look after our people, our land, our animal relatives. The land becomes a part of a person and of our religion. Therefore, when you separate native people from their lands it is equivalent to taking away their will to live. It is hard to convey this concept to a white man who thinks nothing about selling his home and moving on for better economic opportunities. We don't have that choice. Accordingly, we cannot entertain the idea that a people could just move on if, in fact, their lands get contaminated. Our people are being sacrificed to satisfy America's need for evermore energy. Native lands are sought for use as burial ground for hazardous and radioactive waste.
-- Laurie Goodman, Diné (Navajo) Nation, Member of Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment (Diné CARE)

And the third proposal: We are categorically against any proposal of underground storage. We suggest the surface proposals. Well, everybody knows that when the cobra is under the glass, in front of the eyes, it is clear that one can be quiet. And if one puts it into the cellar and there are also many cracks there then it is nearly impossible to guarantee safety. We have discovered this thing. Moscow and Leningrad scientists may maintain that there is not any spreading out, i.e. that there is no harmfulness there beneath the ground, but we have discovered it ourselves and far away from the place of the source of the pollution. That's why we are now looking for a parliamentary way for only one thing: to solve the main question at the beginning. What is more important: the rights of the atomic industry -- or the rights of the population and of nature in the face of such danger from the atomic industry? All the problems resulting from this depend on the solution of this question. That is why we believe that the health of the people and the cleanness of nature should be put first, and only then should the atomic industry's wishes and needs be looked after.
-- Prof. Ryspek Ibraev, Kasakhstan, CIS. Geologist, geochemist, leader of the Inter-faculty Laboratory of the Kasakh State University, head of the Independent Public Expert Council of Radioecology of Kazakhstan

[The] Japanese government and the nuclear power industry are constructing comprehensive nuclear fuel plants in Rokkasho Biretsh in Armony prefectures. This facility, formerly called the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities, will play a vital role in Japanese plutonium's utilization programs. It will be the largest concentration of radioactive materials in the world. . . . Also an earthquake entry in this district and two faults are located right under the facilities. . . . The Japanese nuclear program poses the threats of ecological catastrophe not only to Japan but to the entire planet. There are unacceptable risks involved in every phase of the program from the construction of nuclear facilities to the transport of radioactive wastes over sea and land. We must bring plutonium production and transport to an end in Japan and every country in the world.
-- Kiyoshi Miyata, Film producer and member of the Plutonium Free Future

But not only the technical catastrophe was a crime . . . . It is also the deliberate crime of those who did not summon up the courage to admit frankly: Atomic energy after the 26th April, 1986, is a crime! . . . This is why Chernobyl changed the character of man. This is why now there is no justification for those who search for arguments referring to the scientific expertises to the opinion of specialists and scientists actually representing the atomic lobby which is guilty of many crimes, on whose conscience weigh the life and health of millions of people. And today, now, literally as we are carrying out this Hearing, those experts continue their criminal activity. They try to convince the governments of the new states which arose after the crash of the Soviet Union that with the technical help of western states it is possible to reconstruct and to build new nuclear power stations which will serve as a basis for the economic progress of these new states. We all have to clearly understand what is going on today.
-- Gernadij Grushevoi, White Russia, CIS. Foundation for the Children of Chernobyl Co-founder

As the country we know, Australia was born of a lie. Gracelyn yesterday spoke of the principle of "terra nullius", the principle of empty land. Now, that was and remains wrong, it's a lie, it's a fiction and yet, it provided the so-called legal framework to justify the settlement or the invasion of Australia. It also provided the premise or the thinking that Australia is a vast, empty, rich land. And that's a very dangerous series of assumptions to work on. At the time of the white invasion of Australia, western Europe and in particular Britain was dominated by a functional culture, it was a mechanistic view of the world. It saw the world as a machine and it saw developed peoples as the mechanics, they knew how to tinker with it to get the most out of it. . . . The spirit of the land is what we are all trying to protect. I wish us all success in this and in our struggle to stop this industry which causes so much pain to so many people in so many places.
-- David Sweeney, Australia, Member of "Friends of the Earth ", co-ordinator of the Anti-Nuclear Campaign for the past five years

So uranium is a part of everyday life, and they do all sorts of different things with uranium, foundations for houses. . . . It's also being used as decoration and so on. That is, the people are not informed at all as to what that means. This uranium in Caétité is highly radioactive, that is, it's natural. I'm talking about natural radioactivity, it's very highly radioactive. And the people have no idea, and they're being told, it isn't bad at all if we do something here, that is, that no harm will come to us. . . . Germany has promised to lend Brazil 800 million dollars so that they can finish building Angra II and III. These are such absurd things that one should know about in Europe.
And all this is happening in a country where, according to the government itself, almost 60 percent of the people live in abject poverty. The other 40 percent is not rich, they're also poor, and a small portion of them rules. This is happening in a country which is also full of atomic waste. A few other small numbers in conclusion. We've got 3,400 tons of atomic waste from the accident at Goiânia alone, and then added to that is the waste from Angra which is also there, very precariously located . . .
-- Maria de Lourdes Heimer, Activist, member of Grupo Ambientalista da Bahia (GAMBA)

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