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