The Universal House of Justice
The Bahá'í World Centre
To: Mr. Brent Poirier
23 June 1996
Regarding your email of 25 March 1996 inquiring about a reported directive by the Universal House of Justice that teachers travel to an island that was uninhabitable because of radiation, we were asked to check the records in our master reference files and to convey our findings to you. We found letters concerning the Marshall Islands which seem relevant. Here follows a summary of what appears to have transpired:
Naw-Ruz 1977 -- The Universal House of Justice writes to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Marshall Islands assigning a goal to "Open the remaining major islands of the Marshalls to the Faith and greatly increase the number of believers ."
18 February 1979 -- The National Assembly of the Marshall islands reports "The major islands that are uninhabited: Toka, Ailinginae, Rongdrik, Jemo, Bikini, Erkub, Bokak, Bikar." In the same report, Rongelap Atoll is listed as having a Baha'i group, Ujelang Atoll is shown as an isolated Baha'i center and Enewetak Atoll as well is shown to have a group.
12 March 1979 -- Department of Secretariat writes to the National Assembly of the Marshall Islands saying, "It is noted that there are only two major inhabited islands not yet open to the Faith -- Mejit and Ailuk, and it is hoped these will soon be opened."
24 August 1983 -- The National Assembly of the Marshall Islands report states "Atolls which have no population and therefore are not to be considered under any teaching plan are as follows: Ailingae, Bikar, Bikini, Bokaak (Taongi), Erikub, Jemo, Knox, Rongerik, and Taja." A note is appended by the National Assembly to this same report which reads: "Note: Though one of the larger islands of the M.I. atolls, Rongelap is largely radioactive, with no population." A second note, in reference to Ujelang Atoll, reads: "Note: For a time uninhabited, there is a report some people may have returned."
1 July 1985 -- Annual Statistical Report has a note next to Rongelap "People have been evacuated to other places in Kwajalein." This same document shows Ujelang as having a group with less than nine adult believers.
24 August 1987 -- The National Assembly of the Marshall Islands locality report notes that the people of Rongelap Atoll have been evacuated to Mejatto Island, Kwajalein Atoll. Bikini Atoll, which at some point seemed to have had two localities, had its population removed to Kili and Ejit Islands in Majuro Atoll. Enewetak and Ujelang Atolls are listed as having Baha'i localities.
25 April 1989 -- Department of the Secretariat thanks the National Assembly of the Marshall Islands for providing copies of pages from a published Marshall Islands 1988 census, commenting, "We appreciate having this information for our files, and found the map showing the populations of various atolls to be especially interesting." Population figures are presented for the 26 principal atolls and islands which comprise the Marshalls. All but Rongelap Atoll and Ujelang Atoll are shown to be inhabited, and a note indicates that "282 Rongelap people were enumerated on Mejetto in Kwajalein Atoll", thus providing further evidence of the evacuation of Rongelap at some point prior to 1988. Bikini Atoll is shown to have a population of 30. Of the major islands listed by the National Assembly in its 1979 report, neither Toka, Ailinginae, Rongdrik, Jemo, Erkub, Bokak, or Bikar is listed by the government among the 26 principal islands and atolls; however, Jemo and Ailinginae are shown on an accompanying map, but without any population figures provided. (Other localities shown on the government's map do indicate population next to the place names.)
Department of the Secretariat