Report on protest at Pohakuloa/Saddle Rd.opening ceremony

Aloha Kakou,
 
     About 40-50 people participated in a peaceful protest today, May 29, 2007 from 10AM to 1PM quarantined 1/4 mile from the opening ceremony of the 6.5 miles of the newly named Ala Mauna Saddle Rd.   The new alignment is not meant as a more direct route between Hilo and Kona.  In fact it heads away from a  such a route.  It hugs the Mauna Kea side of Pohakuloa Military Training Area (PTA) and thus paves the way for expanded live-fire training on the base.  A direct route between Hilo & Kona would go through the center of the 134,000-acre base.
 
     The official ceremony was "by invitation only" and it appeared that 100-200 people attended the event.   Dozens of County police, State DLNR police and other plain clothes authorities were on hand, along with newly erected security barriers to keep the general taxpaying public out and enforce the "government by invitation only" policy.  Hawaii's senior senator, Daniel Inouye was the keynote speaker at the elite event.  County and State politicos were clearly present.  A friendly news reporter informed me on his way out that the event MC, radio personality Skylark Rosetti, said the public was not allowed because the site of the event -- the tented pavement of the new Saddle Rd. was "a construction site."  Yeah right!  If the site was OK for the elite it should have been OK for the commoner too!
 
     The protest group was a good mix of people from various parts of the island.  Kupuna George Kahumoku Freitas, a Vietnam vet, came from Oahu to join the protest. He spoke passionately and eloquently about the need to restore the Hawaii nation and demilitarize Hawaii. He held a sign that read "Kalua Dan --"The King of Pork," and another that said "Shame on 2Dans" referring to the recent votes of Dan Inouye and Dan Akaka for $120 billion in Iraq war funding for the next 4 months.  Inouye said on his website the bill "benefits Hawaii" because it included $38 million for agriculture and emergency highway funds.It appears the 2 Dans are willing to have U.S. soldiers and Iraqis die as long as Hawaii gets some highway funds.  Auwe!
 
     The protest group had a solar powered sound system that we were later told carried the 1/4 mile to the official ceremony site.  It appears that much of what was said by those protesting could be heard by many of the invitees.  A  number of people spoke at the microphone.  Some of those attending the official ceremony accepted leaflets (see below) as they walked to the event from the parking lot and protest signs were clearly visible. "Stop the War,  No Stryker,  Test Pohakuloa for DU,  Close PTA,  Lockheed Martin Dan,  War Vote = Pork over Lives,  War Vote = Blood for Highway $,   Blood Hwy. "
 
     Protesters had a radiation meter present.  A reading of 75 counts per minute was recorded.  Background readings are 5-20 counts per minute.  Clearly the reading is very significant of radiation blowing in the wind over Hawaii Island.
 
     Three women carrying protest signs walked from the parking lot a back way toward the official event and were escorted by police through the official event to the quarantine protest zone.  At one point in the protest a woman from Kona told police she wanted to deliver a statement to Daniel Inouye and ask him a question.  Police informed her that would not be allowed and if she crossed a line that had established at a "invitation only checkpoint" she would be arrested on charges of "Obstructing a Government operation," a misdemeanor with possible imprisonment of 1 year upon conviction.  DLNR Officer Holley said that if 6 people crossed the line in peaceful protest they would be charged "with a felony --inciting a riot."  Officer Holley's attitude was clearly disrespectful of peaceful protesters.
 
     Within 15 minutes of the exchange with officer Holley the official ceremony of dedication took place. Suddenly a very strong swirling wind  "dust devil" came out of nowhere and  large plastic protest signs that had been lying on the ground were carried over the security fence and 50 yards or more toward the ceremony.  One of the signs comically slapped Officer Holley on the head as it flew through the air toward the ceremony.  It was an incredible "chicken skin" moment as if the makani, the spirit, was speaking --  "Aloha `Aina --Free Hawaii! -- this official ceremony of expanding military occupation, desecration and contamination IS NOT PONO."  It was as if the wind was saying that real prayer for healing, peace, and respect for people and the `aina was outside of the official ceremony on the margins -- with the rag tag group of the uninvited.  One of the protest signs carried the farthest over the fence quickly gathered up by police read "Is DU blowing in the wind?"  Indeed it appears to be, along with the hope that someday soon DU will be forever banned.
 
     When the official ceremony ended and the "invited" headed for the lengthy buffet line, the "uninvited" protest group decided to call it a day.  We shared bananas, water, snacks, and aloha and headed home.  As usual we wish our numbers were larger but we were gratified that so many people traveled the long distance to stand in protest witness of the dedication of "The Blood-For-Oil War Highway."  No one action will stop this war and demilitarize Hawaii, but every action is an important drop in filling the bucket to water the garden of justice and peace.
Never give up!  Solidarity forever!
 

THE BLOOD FOR OIL

WAR HIGHWAY!

     Today, May 29, 2007 marks the opening of the new 6.5-mile section of the realigned and renamed Ala Mauna Saddle Road.  This road paves the way for expanded military occupation, desecration and contamination in Hawaii and training for occupying, desecrating, and contaminating other sovereign lands.  The result will be more spilled blood for oil in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.

      On May 24, 2007 the U.S. Congress voted another $120 billion for funding the Iraq war.   The House voted 290-142 for the war funding but Hawaii's delegates Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono voted against the war funding.  Kudos to them!  The Senate voted 80-14 for the war funding.  Shame on Hawaii's senators -- Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka! They voted for the war funds.   We no longer buy the shibai that voting for war funding is supporting the troops.  End the war and bring the troops home now.  That's the support the troops need.  The only funds that should be approved are one-way tickets home for all U.S. troops and proper medical care for vets and their families.  Such medical care should include testing and treatment for exposure to U.S. Depleted Uranium (DU radiation) weapons used in the war.  Inhaling small dust particles of DU may cause cancer, damage DNA and cause a wide range of illnesses.  Besides our debt to veterans, the U.S. will have a huge debt to pay for all the death and destruction we have caused in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the U.S. use of DU radiation weapons on civilians and contamination of the land there. 

   Dan Inouye's website says the $120 billion war-funding bill "benefits Hawaii." It includes $38 million for Hawaii in agriculture and emergency highway funds.  Do we really want Hawaii crop and highway "benefits" at the cost of the blood of U.S. GI's and Iraqi civilians that will die as a result of this criminal war funding?   The $38 million in "benefits" for Hawaii breaks down to roughly $140,000 per death of the 300 U.S. soldiers likely to be killed over the next four months of the war. The billions in the war funding will certainly benefit some of Inouye's top campaign contributors: war contractors like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics (that builds Strykers), Raytheon and Boeing Companies and General Electric, each of whom has contributed tens of thousands of dollars over the past decade to Inouye's bloody campaign war chest.  Perhaps the Ala Mauna Saddle Road name should be changed to the Dan Inouye "Blood for Oil War Highway."  It should be noted that this realigned portion of the highway goes right through critical habitat of the endangered Palila bird.  The blood of endangered species should also be added to the total cost of war.

Thanks to Inouye & Akaka -- almost 300 U.S. soldiers will likely die for $38M in Hawaii "benefits!" That's roughly $140,000 in benefits to Hawaii for every GI killed in Iraq over the next 4 months.

 

     The realigned Saddle Road allows for expanded live-fire training at the 134,000 - acre Pohakuloa Military Training Area (PTA).  Tens of thousands of acres at PTA are leased for 65 years from the State DLNR for a grand total of $1.00 for the 65 years.  If someone was leasing your house but trashing it, wouldn't you cancel the lease and make that person clean up?  What's up DLNR?  Cancel the PTA lease!  Make the military clean up.

     Following confirmation (forced by citizens) of extensive radiation contamination at Schofield Barracks on Oahu, the Army now says it believes that Pohakuloa has radioactive contamination as well since similar and expanded training takes place at PTA.   This admission followed a recent radioactive monitor reading of 93 counts per minute in Kona taken during live-fire Stryker training at PTA.  The 93 counts per minute are far above background readings of 5-20 counts per minute.  With every live round fired at PTA (up to 14 million live rounds annually) there is the added risk of spreading radioactive and other military toxins over residents and visitors alike on this island and beyond.

      Instead of putting more money into Stryker and other military expansion projects in Hawaii, Dan Inouye and the rest of Hawaii's congressional delegation should be pushing for military clean-up money.  Not just token amounts but $billions.  Over $400 million was spent to clean up Kaho`olawe and it's still a mess.  On Hawaii Island alone, there are 57 known present and former military sites in need of clean up. The land area totals 9 times the size of Kaho`olawe and many of these sites have been left in hazardous condition for decades.  And it's not just Hawaii's aina that needs clean up. The military admits 5 million gallons of radioactive waste dumped in Pearl Harbor; over 2,000 steel drums of radioactive solid waste dumped in the ocean off Oahu; more than 8000 tons of munitions, including blistering agents, dumped in shallow seas off O'ahu.  Hawaii Island has munitions dumped off its shores too – including off the South Kohala luxury resort coast and Hilo Bay.

     And by the way, where are all the Civil Defense and other government radiation monitors to be brought out in the aftermath of a nuclear war?  Shouldn't they be brought out NOW and citizen volunteers trained and certified to use them to monitor and document contamination taking place in our midst?

 

Aloha `Aina!   Free Hawaii!

End Military Occupation, Desecration, and Contamination!

End the U.S. War in Iraq Too!

 

Contact: Malu `Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action P.O. Box AB `Ola`a (Kurtistown),

Hawai`i   96760. Phone (808) 966-7622.  Email ja@interpac.net   http://www.malu-aina.org
 
 
 
 
 
 

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