DMZ HAWAII/ALOHA AINA STATEMENT
November 12, 2002
“Aloha aina must continue”
Clean up and return lands – demilitarize Hawaii
Today, as Kahoolawe is turned over to the State of Hawaii, we must remember the history which has led to this moment. President Dwight Eisenhower said in 1953 that Kahoolawe was necessary for military training, but would be returned shortly to the then-Territory of Hawaii, in a habitable state. After forty years of struggle, the people of Hawaii, with the support of people throughout the world, accomplished the cessation of bombings. We lost two dear souls in the struggle, George Helm and Kimo Mitchell, whose voices of aloha aina were silenced.
Iolani Palace is a portentious site for this ceremony. For it was at this place, nearly 111 years ago, that the US military supported an illegal coup against a peaceful, independent, and neutral nation state. Only last week the military held public meetings – at private hotels and resorts, and as they presented their plans to appropriate 25,000 acres of land on Hawai’i and Oahu, peaceful activists were being arrested outside for attempting to voice dissent. From the arrest of our queen in 1895 as she tried to hold her country together, to the arrest of her people today as they carry on her work, the US military has lied, cheated, and misled the people of Hawai’i into believing they are stewards of the land and protectors of life. And there is more: the military wants to expand occupation of Kauai by another 6,000 acres for missile defense.
With one hand the military is returning 28,600 acres on Kahoolawe, which is still in an ailing state; with the other hand, they are attempting to take another 31,000 acres.
The legacy of the US Navy’s treatment of Kahoolawe is an indication of how all these lands will be treated.
8.9 million pounds of metal, mainly ordnance, has been removed from the island, and Kahoolawe is still covered with unexploded ordnance. Only 9% of the island has been cleared down to 4 feet, and only 70% of the surface has been cleared. The ordnance is the result of sustained US Navy and Allied bombings since 1953.
We must not forget Makua, Waikane, Waikoloa, Waimea, Puuloa (Pearl Harbor) as well, to understand more fully the way which the military treats our homeland.
For the US Navy to return the island in such lifeless condition is immoral. The US Navy should renew its commitment to healing the destruction it has caused.
We, the people of Hawaii who stand with a steadfast love for the land, are vigilant, aware, and mobilized. We wear black to honor the work of the past, and to note that the work is not yet complete.
A better world is possible, one where our families are not threatened by the health effects of militarization, where our economy is not stultified by dependency on Inouyue and Abercrombie’s dole, and where Hawaii is no longer the center for warfare and violence. We gather today in memory of all the lands – Kahoolawe, Makua, Waikane, Puuloa, Pohakuloa, Vieques, Okinawa – that must be healed and returned. Aloha aina must continue – the life of the land is perpetuated through our good works.