(BIVN) – “This is big,” announced Dr. Keanu Sai in the gymnasium of the Boys & Girls Club in Hilo on Saturday.
Sai, one of several featured speakers in a two day educational seminar organized in celebration of the Hawaiian holiday of La Ho‘iho‘i ‘Ea, was talking about the news that came from the National Education Association’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly in Boston, Massachusetts on July 4th.
A group with the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association – the NEA affiliate union representing the public school teachers of Hawaii – successfully convinced the teachers of America to approve New Business Item 37, which stated:
“The NEA will publish an article that documents the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy in 1893, the prolonged occupation of the United States in the Hawaiian Kingdom and the harmful effects that this occupation has had on the Hawaiian people and resources of the land.”
HSTA credited Chris Santomauro, a teacher at Kaneohe Elementary, with introducing the proposal and Uluhani Waialeale, a teacher at Kualapuu charter school on Moloka’i, for presenting an “impassioned and articulate argument in favor of the Hawaiian overthrow measure” which “swayed a majority of teachers from across the country to support it.”
“That’s big. This is not political, this is education,” Sai said as he explained the HSTA proposal to those gathered for his talk in Hilo.
According to Sai, the HSTA Secretary/Treasurer is Amy Perruso, a teacher from Mililani High School. She was one of the first teachers to begin teaching about the illegal overthrow of the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the illegal American occupation that followed. Perruso even teaches from Sai’s textbook, Ua Mau Ke Ea—Sovereignty Endures: An Overview of the Political and Legal History of the Hawaiian Islands.
“I pretty much can guarantee you that the teachers that are teaching about Hawaii’s occupation probably came through one of our classes at the University of Hawaii,” Sai said, claiming he had nothing to do with the HSTA’s plan to draw up the agenda item. “That’s the impact right there,” Sai said, “where they are taking their kuleana and maximizing it.”
Ever since Sai’s first trip to the Permenant Court of Arbitration in 2001, where he represented the Hawaiian Kingdom government in the Larsen v the Hawaiian Kingdom case, Sai has made the education of Hawaii’s people his top priority.
Now, inspired by stories like the one of the HSTA in Boston, Sai feels affirmed that “it’s time to go fact-finding.”
“I think the time is right. Let’s enter into an agreement with Lance Larsen, go fact-finding,” Sai said, adding that during the 2001 proccedings before the the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the tribunal “didn’t say you can create the fact-finding within 20 years. It said all it needs is an agreement.”
Sai said two of the arbitrators are now sitting judges on the International Court of Justice.
“So, what we’re going to do is convene the original arbitrators who made the statement to be that Commission of Inquiry,” Sai said. “Because I found out that sitting judges on the International Court of Justice can also serve as arbitrators and commissioners at the permanent Court of Arbitration.”
Commissions of inquiry under the auspices of the Permanent Court serve in a similar capacity as grand juries, Sai told the audience. Commissions of Inquiry not only review sets of facts, but also assign responsibilities regarding these facts. That could be civil liability or criminal liability in international law, Sai said.
To date there have only been five International Commission’s of Inquiry, Sai said. The first was Great Britain and Russia in 1905. The most recent was Great Britain and Denmark in 1962.
“This is not… a happy time, but this is a serious time,” Sai said. “Now, what’s important here is, this
agreement which will form three commissioners under the Hague Convention… they will answer the first question. First, what is the function and role of the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom in accordance with the basic norm and framework of international humanitarian law?”
Humanitarian law is the law of occupation and laws of war, Sai said. “Before you can address what is the role of the Hawaiian government during occupation, you have to do that in the light of what happened since 1893. You have to address what the United States did or didn’t do that got us into this situation of possible culpability of the Hawaiian government toward one of its Nationals. Is it our fault that everybody’s brainwashed? Who’s responsible for that?”
Before the commission can answer that question, they have to “address over a hundred years of non-compliance to humanitarian law,” Sai said. “That’s how it works. Then, in light of all this… what do we do? Are we liable?”
Sai says the commission will also ask, “what are the duties and obligations of the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom toward Lance Larson and – by extension – toward all Hawaiian subjects residing in Hawaii, and abroad?”
“What do we do about Lance Larson? Do we sign a reparation where we now have to pay him?” Sai asked. “Do we report the crimes to the International Criminal Court for prosecution? Where do we go?”
“Let them tell us,” Sai said. “They have the authority. We’re in the procedures. So, I don’t know what they’re going to say. I don’t. Just as I didn’t know what they would say during the proceedings of arbitration. I just know I have to take every step to protect the Hawaiian government. Because we’re in it. We’re now being put to that test.”
Sai added that once the Commission has been convened, they are going to make an important recommendation. “We’re gonna have the hearings in Hawaii,” Sai said, to a round of applause.
“I mean, this is not a political stunt. This is procedural,” Sai said. “Because… back in the year 2000, we entertained whether or not the tribunal could have their hearings in Hawaii. That was under consideration. And, after complete review, we said ‘no, there is confusion at home’. Now, I think our people are ready. They have the knowledge, they have the understanding.”
Sai again pointed to the recent HSTA victory in getting their “illegal occupation” proposal passed at the NEA meeting in Boston.
“Can you now understand,” Sai asked the crowd, “the Commission of Inquiry will probably be looking into these very issues.”