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Tony de Brum 1945-2017

… He was a giant of history, a legend in every meaning of the word …

AT the age of nine, Tony de Brum was fishing at sea with his grandfather when he witnessed an explosion which was the evidence of the Bravo Shot – a thermonuclear test by the United States in the Bikini Atoll.

He would later see first-hand the devastation, grief and human suffering caused by that test and man-made destruction on the environment and to human life. Born in the Ellis Islands – what is now the independent nation of Tuvalu – de Brum would later move home to the Marshall Islands and witness the destruction caused by nature through climate change.

But even climate change, he came to realise, was in essence a manifestation of human greed, lack of responsibility and absence of justice. Perhaps these two key events propelled de Brum to become a fierce advocate for the rights of Pacific islanders from the smaller states and a clarion for the region at international fora.

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