by Jim Albertini
Aloha Peace Ohana,
We had a good protest today at the Military Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) in the heart of the Big Island, in solidarity with protests taking place globally against U.S. drones. Surprisingly, the “Gathering of Eagles,” a right wing pro-war group that usually is there to counter our message, was no where to be seen. A local friendly Sergeant at the base who came out to greet us, said he appreciates our personal spirit of aloha and respect for all people, even those who disagree with us. He said the “Eagles” can be mean spirited and insulting.
Our protest began with an opening Pule (prayer) and Oli (chant) ceremony of Ti-leaf blessing of the land and people by Kanaka Maoli women, Napua and Lia. It was a beautiful sunny day on the mountain and the spirit of the group was very positive and peaceful. It was pleasant not to have to endure insults from the “Eagles” shouted from bull horns from across the highway. We were blessed to have Kupuna “Uncle Sam” Kaleleiki, a 30-year Marine, retired Sergeant Major, join us. Uncle Sam is now with the Reinstated Lawful Government of the Kingdom of Hawaii. He had a large plywood sign that read “End U.S. occupation.”
For 2 hours our group of 20 ( a good cross section and mix of all ages) stood opposite the main gate holding signs with a variety of messages: “Stop the Bombing,” “Shut Down PTA,” “Ground the Drones,” “Void the PTA Lease,” etc. Messages also called for Testing for Depleted Uranium contamination. We erected a large Hawaiian Flag on a bamboo pole topped with Ti-leaves to hover above our protest and we placed peace flags along the highway fencing. There was a lot of support from passing cars.
It should be noted that drones train at the 133,000-acre PTA base. It has been confirmed that the Shadow and Raven drones train at PTA and possibly other drones as well. There is a drone airfield which can be viewed from Google Earth located close to Mauna Kea State Park — about 1/2 mile south and east of the park between the old and new Saddle Rd. It should also be noted that the military is attempting to renegotiate a long-term lease with the State of Hawaii for it’s live-fire training base at Pohakuloa. We need to oppose this illegal lease and the continuing desecration and contamination of Hawaiian Kingdom Crown and Government land. Government documents state that up to 14.8 million live-rounds are fired annually at PTA. The State Board of Land & Natural Resources will be addressing the PTA lease in the next few months and we need to speak up in protest.
Kaho’olawe is an example of the mess the military makes of Hawaii’s land. It bombed the island for 50 years before protest forced it to be stopped. Over $400 million dollars was spent to clean up the island but there are still lots of unexploded ordnance on the island. Pohakuloa is nearly 5 times larger than Kaho’olawe plus it is confirmed to be contaminated with Depleted Uranium (DU). As we have said, ” We pray that the U.S. not do to others what the U.S. has already done and continues to do to Hawaii: unlawfully occupy its government and nation, desecrate its sacred sites, contaminate its air, land, water, people, plants, and animals with military toxins.”
Following the protest we had a pot luck lunch at Mauna Kea Park. Our radiation monitor, which we had operating throughout the entire time picked up two spike readings at the park of over 30 counts per minute. Normal background readings are between 5-20cpm. The winds were coming from the south — from the direction of the training ranges known to be contaminated with DU.
Uncle Sam had to leave the pot luck a little early. He was taking a flight to Maui with his wife’s ashes for burial. We are very grateful for him joining us at Pohakuloa.
We have plenty of work to do to return Pohakuloa to a place of peace and healing. Please join in this effort. We need you. We owe it to future generations and the earth itself. Mahalo.