Categories Archives: Protests & Symbolic Acts

Hawaiians halt Thirty Meter Telescope ground-breaking ceremony

On Tuesday, October 7, a ground-breaking ceremony was attempted to kick off construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), a $1.5 billion desecration of sacred Mauna Kea. The project has been rammed through by the so-called “state” of Hawai’i despite environmental, cultural, and legal concerns. Native Hawaiians led a protest and, joined by non-Hawaiians, successfully disrupted and halted the ceremony, forcing the organizers to shut off the live stream and go home early.

This is a multinational project with funding from India, Japan, Canada and California, including Cal Tech and the UC system as partners. The ceremony was intended to convince astronomers and the international audience that the TMT has the general backing of Native Hawaiians, going so far as to incorporate traditional Hawaiian cultural and ceremonial practices. The protesters broke through the charade and made clear the fierce opposition to the project. 250 people gathered to participate in the protest, though only a few were able to reach the ceremony at the summit.

This was an unprecedented victory for Hawaiians against an occupation which routinely ignores their cultural and legal rights. But much more needs to be done to stop the project for good. Please contact Kamahana Kealoha to get involved or support the ongoing work:

Email: sacredmaunakea@gmail.com
Website: Sacred Mauna Kea
Facebook

Deep Green Resistance Hawai’i was unable to participate in the event, but we’re honored to publish these original photos from the event:

Sunrise offerings before the protest at the ahu (alter)  across from the base of Mauna Kea

Sunrise offerings before the protest at the ahu (alter) across from the base of Mauna Kea

Six Hawaiians went to the summit to do protocol and pule (prayers) after the sunrise ceremony.

Six Hawaiians went to the summit to do protocol and pule (prayers) after the sunrise ceremony.

View of Mauna Loa from the summit of  Mauna Kea

View of Mauna Loa from the summit of Mauna Kea

photo 3

The blockade of the road was at 9000 feet. It was a bit chaotic with so many law enforcement vehicles, including  homeland security. And people didn't want to get arrested before the people doing the  ground breaking ceremony arrived.

The blockade of the road was at 9000 feet. It was a bit chaotic with so many law enforcement vehicles, including homeland security. People didn’t want to get arrested before the people doing the ground breaking ceremony arrived.

Non Hawaiians came out and stood strong with the Hawaiians

Non Hawaiians came out and stood strong with the Hawaiians.

photo 2_4

The protesters opted for a slow-down rather than starting right into a blockade

The protesters opted for a slow-down rather than starting right into a blockade.

But the desecraters had been  smuggled past in paramedics  vehicles

But the desecraters had been smuggled past in paramedics vehicles

Then they climbed into  white SUVs and drove up.  It was an ill feeling to look up and see this line of vehicles.

Then they climbed into white SUVs and drove up. It was an ill feeling to look up and see this line of vehicles.

The protest spread out

The protest spread out.

It's highly inaccurate to accuse Hawaiians of selfishly opposing western science, with 13 telescopes on Mauna Kea now.

It’s grossly unfair to accuse Hawaiians of selfishly opposing western science, with 13 telescopes on Mauna Kea now.

photo 3_2photo 2

People started to fan out and some drove to the summit, elevation about 14,000 ft.

People started to fan out and some drove to the summit, elevation about 14,000 ft.

photo 1This truck made it onto the summit before the cops closed the road. Those who made it to the top had to walk miles in and then wander the labyrinth of trails looking for the event.

This truck made it onto the summit before the cops closed the road. Those who made it to the top had to walk miles in and then wander the labyrinth of trails looking for the event.

Lanakila

Lanakila was the first one to find and intervene in the event. He stood there and challenged them for 15 minutes before other protesters could join him, just in time to stop the ground breaking.

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The financial backers had to stand there and listen to Hawaiians telling them they don't want their money for this desecration.

The financial backers had to stand there and listen to Hawaiians telling them they don’t want their money for this desecration.

The minister on the right, former Senator Daniel Akaka's son, was about to sell out fellow Hawaiians by blessing the project.  Instead, his own people told him he had to stop.

The minister on the right, former Senator Daniel Akaka’s son, was about to sell out fellow Hawaiians by blessing the project. Instead, his own people told him he had to stop.

photo 2_7

Hawaiians mobbed the event and chanted

Hawaiians mobbed the event and chanted.

The VIPs were to line up, each holding an o'o with his or her name carved into it.  Cultural practitioner Akaka was to chant to them, commanding them to pound and dig. This grotesque pimping of Hawaiian culture was halted, and these o'o went unused.

The VIPs were to line up, each holding an o’o with his or her name carved into it. “Cultural practitioner” Akaka was to chant to them, commanding them to pound and dig. This grotesque pimping of Hawaiian culture was halted, and these o’o went unused.

The observatory people decided to give up their ceremony and to leave

The organizers decided to give up their ceremony and to leave.

photo 1_8

Hawaiians helped speed the desecraters on their way by packing up their chairs and rolling up their carpet

Hawaiians helped speed the desecraters on their way by packing up their chairs and rolling up their carpet.

The sight of them leaving marked a historic victory in Hawaiian resistance to occupation.  This is just the start.

The sight of their leaving marked a historic victory in Hawaiian resistance to occupation. This is just the start!

Tuesday: protest of the Thirty Meter Telescope

Press release from Keala Kelly. For more information, contact her at:

Phone: 808-265-0177
Email: sacredmaunakea@gmail.com
Website: Sacred Mauna Kea
Facebook

What: Mauna Kea Protest
When: Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 7am to 2pm
Where: Saddle Road at the entrance to the Mauna Kea Observatory Road

Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians will gather for a peaceful protest against the Astronomy industry and the “State of Hawaii’s” ground-breaking ceremony for a thirty-meter telescope (TMT) on the summit of Mauna Kea.

Cultural Issues

Mauna Kea is sacred to the Hawaiian people, who maintain a deep connection and spiritual tradition there that goes back millennia.

“The TMT is an atrocity the size of Aloha Stadium,” said Kamahana Kealoha, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner. “It’s 19 stories tall, which is like building a sky-scraper on top of the mountain, a place that is being violated in many ways culturally, environmentally and spiritually.” Speaking as an organizer of those gathering to protest, Kealoha said, “We are in solidarity with individuals fighting against this project in U.S. courts, and those taking our struggle for de-occupation to the international courts. Others of us must protest this ground-breaking ceremony and intervene in hopes of stopping a desecration.”

Clarence “Ku” Ching, longtime activist, cultural practitioner, and a member of the Mauna Kea Hui, a group of Hawaiians bringing legal challenges to the TMT project in state court, said, “We will be gathering at Pu’u Huluhulu, at the bottom of the Mauna Kea Access Road, and we will be doing prayers and ceremony for the mountain.”

When asked if he will participate in protests, he said, “We’re on the same side as those who will protest, but my commitment to Mauna Kea is in this way. We are a diverse people…everyone has to do what they know is pono.”

Environmental Issues

The principle fresh water aquifer for Hawai’i Island is on Mauna Kea, yet there have been mercury spills on the summit; toxins such as Ethylene Glycol and Diesel are used there; chemicals used to clean telescope mirrors drain into the septic system, along with half a million gallons a year of human sewage that goes into septic tanks, cesspools and leach fields.

“All of this poisonous activity at the source of our fresh water aquifer is unconscionable, and it threatens the life of the island,” said Kealoha. “But that’s only part of the story of this mountain’s environmental fragility. It’s also home to endangered species, such as the palila bird, which is endangered in part because of the damage to its critical habitat, which includes the mamane tree.”

Legal Issues

Mauna Kea is designated as part of the Crown and Government lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Professor Williamson PC Chang, from the University of Hawaii’s Richardson School of Law, said, “The United States bases its claim to the Crown and Government land of the Hawaiian Kingdom on the 1898 Joint Resolution of Congress, but that resolution has no power to convey the lands of Hawaii to the U.S. It’s as if I wrote a deed saying you give your house to me and I accepted it. Nobody gave the land to the U.S., they just seized it.”

“Show us the title,” said Kealoha. “If the so-called ‘Treaty of Annexation’ exists, that would be proof that Hawaiian Kingdom citizens gave up sovereignty and agreed to be part of the United States 121 years ago. But we know that no such document exists. The so-called ‘state’ does not have jurisdiction over Mauna Kea or any other land in Hawaii that it illegally leases out to multi-national interests.”

“I agree with how George Helm felt about Kahoolawe,” said Kealoha. “He wrote in his journal: ‘My veins are carrying the blood of a people who understood the sacredness of land and water. Their culture is my culture. No matter how remote the past is it does not make my culture extinct. Now I cannot continue to see the arrogance of the white man who maintains his science and rationality at the expense of my cultural instincts. They will not prostitute my soul.’”

“We are calling on everyone, Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike, to stand with us, to protect Mauna Kea the way George and others protected Kahoolawe. I ask myself every day, what would George Helm do? Because we need to find the courage he had and stop the destruction of Mauna Kea.”

Who is Financing the Thirty-Meter Telescope?

Multi-national funding for the 1.4 billion dollar project is being provided by:

  • The Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation of Palo Alto, California
  • National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan
  • The National Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • The California Institute of Technology
  • The University of California
  • The Indian Institute for Astrophysics
  • Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA)
  • University of Hawaii

Links to videos that convey the opposition to the TMT:

Laws being broken on the Mauna
The native perspective and cultural/religious breaches of law