Marianas Variety

Last updateTue, 22 Oct 2019 12am







    Sunday, October 20, 2019-7:18:49A.M.






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US military ‘not sensitive to indigenous, cultural factors,’ says Mayor Aldan

NORTHERN Islands Mayor Jerome Aldan said the U.S. military should take into account indigenous and cultural factors in its plan to set up a live-fire range on the volcanic island of Pagan.

“You know, they ignore the fact that it is inhabited,” Aldan said, in a recent radio interview with Radio New Zealand News’s Jamie Tahana.

Aldan said while Pagan’s original inhabitants were evacuated due to volcanic eruptions in 1981, they are hoping to return there soon.

Jerome AldanJerome Aldan

He said the military has been insisting at every briefing and conference, and in documents as well that the island is uninhabited.

“But that’s not really true. We are from here and we know what’s going on in our island,” he added.

Aldan said prior to World War II there were 8,000 people on Pagan, including Japanese soldiers and local residents.

He also told Tahana that his office was able to secure funding for the establishment of a fishing community.

“So we’re going to be having our own community development. These are the things that we’re looking at, but the military has failed to recognize them,” Aldan said.

He said “100 percent” of the people of the Northern Islands are against the proposed military plan which, he added, will only “contaminate” the islands.

“Basically after they’re [the military] done, the island is going to be turned into a wasteland. What’s the use for us if we can’t use our own land,” he told Tahana.

Asked about the alternatives discussed by the military, Aldan said these are still all about live-fire, adding that there is no room to discuss alternatives.

During the same radio interview, Dr. Michael Hadfield, professor in the Department of Biology and the Kewalo Marine Lab at the University of Hawaii, said there are endangered species in the Northern Islands contrary to the claim of the U.S. Navy

Hadfield also said that the Northern Islands “are “not a dead place,” and that they have a history that goes back 2,000 years.

He said online petitions have triggered an “international outcry” against the proposed “destruction” of Pagan.