Prayer for peace & justice held in Tumon - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Prayer for peace & justice held in Tumon

Posted: Aug 09, 2018 4:07 PM Updated:

They've been vocal in their opposition of the military buildup since Day One, now in collaboration with the Haya Foundation a group of community activists stood in solidarity with protests in the CNMI.

At Guma Yo'Amte, the house of healers, in Saggan Kottura Chammoro, Tumon, where about two dozen activists gathered to catch the sunrise. Forming a circle to stand in solidarity with groups from Tinian, Pagan, and the Northern Mariana Islands, who on this very day are advocating to protect their island environment.

82-year-old Rosalia Mateo, known affectionately as Mama Chai shed tears sharing her story. When on a visit to Ritidian, she was told she couldn't take traditional plants used for healing by the Yo'Amte, saying, "I feel angry because that's not their own that is not their plant.  They asked me do you still want to go? I will go because I'm not stealing I only go for in need of the medicine."

Medicinal plants Mama Chai says cures babies and elders of ailments when Doctors fail. Many plants indigenous to Ritidian. Activists stood in solidarity with Mama Chai, and healers across the Marianas. Praying for peace on the day oral arguments are being heard at the U.S. District Court of the CNMI.

According to Moneaka Flores, the case was brought forth by Tinian Women Association, Guardians of Gani, Pagan Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, and legal representative EarthJustice against the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense, who they claim violated NEPA when the failed to consider the environmental impact of live-firing ranges on Pagan and Tinian.

She said, "This is a slow violent practice that's been done to our people for generations. We want peace in the Marianas we want justice for the families in Pagan and Tinian we want justice for the families of Litekyan we want Justice for the Marianas."

Maria Hernandez, member of the Prutehi Litekyan organization, says she finds it "troubling that the military wants to dismiss the case".

Joint Region Marianas says they are unable to comment on the issue while it's still pending in Court.

Hernandez thinks the Judge's ruling will have an impact, saying, "If the judge rules in favor of Earth Justice we could see a shift in the ways things are moving right now."

A shift to confronting issues raised by local groups like Prutehi Litekyan, the Haya Foundation, and even local healers like Mama Chai. "That's really upsetting to hear she was turned away, and we want to put all our support behind the Yo'Amte, and together we will fight the injustices to our people," she said.

Mama Chai says she will continue to fight for access and against environmental destruction for the future generation of healers.

Now it's a waiting game for the decision in the EarthJustice case.

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