FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FROM WE ARE GUÅHAN
Thousands Call on Obama to Speak with All of Guam’s People, Hear Concerns About Buildup
March 11, 2010, GUAM – With the largest military realignment in modern history slated to hit the US Territory of Guam, over 11,000 people from the Pacific Island and across the globe signed a petition asking President Barack Obama to speak directly with the people of Guam during his short visit next week. Obama's visit is an opportunity for the island's residents, who do not have the right to vote for President, to voice the many concerns they have with the buildup.
We Are Guåhan, a grassroots collective of individuals, families and organizations working to inform the community about the impacts of the buildup, began circulating the petition when it was announced last month that Obama would visit the island, but only speak to military personnel at Andresen Air Force Base.
After review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), released on November 30, 2009, We Are Guåhan worked with other concerned organizations and individuals to educate the community on the impacts of the buildup. We Are Guåhan, along with Government of Guam agencies, other organizations and concerned individuals submitted thousands of comments on the DEIS-- many of them pointing to the negative impacts outlined there for the people, economy and environment.
After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's indictment of the DEIS late February, it has become increasingly clear that the military realignment to Guam will threaten the health and safety of the island's residents.
"We have not been able to say yes or no to this," says Jon Blas, resident of the village of Tamuning and member of We Are Guåhan. "Hawaii said no. California said no. But we were never given the opportunity. It's not fair, especially because it is looking like this is going to hurt us more than help us."
We Are Guåhan's growing membership felt that a strong message must be sent to Washington DC. The petition states: “The military buildup will permanently change our island and our lives. The needs of all Guam’s people must come first, for this island is our home. It is critical that President Obama hear our concerns.”
We Are Guåhan will deliver the petition to the White House today both by electronic and paper copy.
There will be a community response on March 19, during Obama’s visit, to break the silence and demonstrate that the island’s people demand to have a voice in their future. Obama is not currently planning to speak with the people of Guam. We Are Guåhan hopes the 11,000 requests for a forum will change Obama’s plans.
For more information visit We Are Guåhan’s website at www.weareguahan.com