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Calling for an end to RIMPAC war games

A coalition of demilitarization and decolonization activist groups has written an open letter to the U.S. and Hawaiʻi state governments calling for an end to the annual Pacific military exercises known as RIMPAC which, the group argues, perpetuates violence and domination across multiple levels of global society.

in Militarism

Women’s Voices Women Speak, Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice, World Can’t Wait-Hawaiʻi, Veterans for Peace-Hawai`i, Hawai`i Okinawa Alliance and community allies call on the Hawaiʻi State Government to end the Rim of the Pacific exercises, known as RIMPAC, occurring this July to August 2018. Instead of the practice of war and more militarism, we call for practicing peace and intergenerational healing in Hawaiʻi, Moana Nui (Oceania) and across the Earth. We envision a future of genuine security where our efforts focus on sovereignties, cultural resurgence, health, food, education, sacred places, housing, sustainability and respect and dignity for all peoples.

RIMPAC is the largest naval exercise in the world, and it takes place in Hawaiian waters. It is part of the U.S Navy’s effort to coordinate military exercises and weapons training with military forces of other nations to control the Pacific and Indian Oceans. RIMPAC was established in 1971 with militaries from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the U.S. Since then, Chile, Colombia, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Peru, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Ecuador, India, Mexico, the Philippines and Russia joined. RIMPAC 2018 will feature 26 nations, including Israel, Brazil, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

RIMPAC increases Hawaiʻi’s dependence on a militarized economy, spending our tax dollars for weapons, assault vehicles, artilleries and technologies to use for domestic and international violence. Tourism colludes with militarism via RIMPAC, as Hawaiʻi hosts an influx of visitors, some of whom contribute to local sex industries supported by sex trafficking. Hawaiʻi can be used for R&R and host for military exercises because it is considered the 50th State of the U.S., an illegal status since the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the 1898 illegal annexation that took place without a treaty and that was opposed by thousands of Kanaka Maoli who signed petitions against it. The military occupation of Hawaiʻi leads to abuses such as, but not limited to:

1. The U.S. Navy’s fuel storage tank in Red Hill, sits 100 feet over a water aquifer of Honolulu, threatening fresh drinking water of the most populated parts of Oʻahu.

2. Pōhakuloa, on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, four times larger than Kahoʻolawe, is controlled by the U.S. Army for weapons and military training, affecting the environment and surrounding community with aerosolized Depleted Uranium.

3. Disinterred and disturbed Kanaka Maoli burial and cultural sites in Mākua Valley (U.S. Army), Mōkapu (Kaneʻohe Marine Corp Base Hawaii), Puʻuloa (Pearl Harbor) and Nohili (Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands) for U.S. military training purposes.

4. Threats to public information privacy through the Hawaii Cryptologic Center, which houses NSA intelligence, surveillance and cyberwarfare efforts.

The negative effects of militarism and RIMPAC extend to places to which many in Hawaiʻi can trace their ancestries. For centuries, western empires have colonized Pacific Islands, transforming them into military outposts that subjected the native people to war, rape, repression of sovereignty, environmental contamination and displacement. Today, the newest iteration of this ongoing history is the Pacific Pivot / Indo-Pacific Rebalance, in which the U.S. leverages its power over its colonial possessions for military weapons testing through a “transit corridor” that projects from the Southern California Range Complex (SCRC) in San Diego, cutting across the Pacific through the Hawaiian Island Range Complex (HIRC), which includes the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and the military installations on the main island chain. Another transit coordinator connects the HIRC to the Mariana Island Training & Testing Area (MITT), including Guåhan (Guam), the southern chain of the Mariana Islands, and parts of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument as land, sea and air zones for U.S. Military training purposes. In between are marine national monuments that can be used for military purposes for “national security.” This military infrastructure across the Pacific links with bases in the Korean peninsula (Jeju Island), Japan (Okinawa), and the Philippines.

The Chamoru people of Guåhan are demanding a stop to the creation of live fire bases, such as in Litekyan, Guam, because they threaten cultural sites and endangered plants and animals. Filipinos are protesting President Rodrigo Duterte’s support for militarization, which extended martial law in Mindanao and increased extrajudicial killings. The villagers of Gangjeong have resisted a naval base for ballistic missile defense systems on Jeju Island since 2007. Okinawans have sparked an island-wide protests against military bases’ disruption of local democracy and economy, and the daily endangerment to public health and safety. While the military bases are promoted to build mutual security in the region, they are really about the spread of a U.S. ideology of nationalist “security” in which nations become addicted to arms and resource-extractive economies that fuel climate change, displace Indigenous peoples, worsen out-migration, destroy natural resources, abuse workers and pollute oceans.

We demand that the Hawaiʻi State Government choose to protect Hawaiʻi citizens, our environment and a peaceful future, rather than supporting military dependence. Section 1 of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution states that: “For the benefit of present and future generations, the State and its political subdivisions shall conserve and protect Hawaiʻi’s natural beauty and all natural resources, including land, water, air, minerals and energy sources, and shall promote the development and utilization of these resources in a manner consistent with their conservation and in furtherance of the self-sufficiency of the State. All public natural resources are held in trust by the State for the benefit of the people.”  We call on the State of Hawaiʻi to uphold these Constitutional principles by ending RIMPAC.

Take Action: We call all peoples of Hawaiʻi to demand an end to RIMPAC and to publicly question the need for exercises this June-August 2018.

1) Sign the World Can’t Wait-Hawaiʻi Change.org petition to Stop RIMPAC.

2) Join us in community efforts working for peace and restoring our environments. Our coalition is organizing a series of community actions to counter the unquestioned acceptance of RIMPAC. Instead, we are building communities that seek genuinely secure futures where our economies are no longer designed to support war, and INSTEAD, where we have adequate food, shelter, education, health care and housing. All are welcome to attend these free community events:

Sunday, June 24, 9 a.m.: Irei no Hi Annual Okinawa Peace Memorial. Jikoen Hongwanji, 1731 N. School St.Kalihi. Contact: Pete Doktor dok@riseup.net

Saturday June 30, 10 a.m.: Rally, March, and Vigil Against RIMPAC at Pearl Harbor. Details here. Contact: worldcantwaithawaii@yahoo.com

Saturday, July 14, 4 to 6 p.m.: Nā Hua Ea: Words of Genuine Security, Genuine Sovereignty—Poetry, Mele, Community Reports, ʻAwa. Papahana Kuaola in Heʻeia. Contact: Aiko Yamashiro aikoy@hawaii.edu

3) Contact State Officials below with this message:

“As a community member, I support putting an end to the Rim of the Pacific Exercises in Hawaiʻi that pollute and destroy our lands and waters, and further our dependence on a militarized economy.”

Contact the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi, Military Affairs Department and Hawaii Military Affairs Council (MAC) 808-380-2612 kkaimuloa@cochawaii.org

Contact the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs
Chair: Clarence K. Nishihara, 808-586-6970 sennishihara@capitol.hawaii.gov Vice Chair: Glenn Wakai, 808-586-8585 senwakai@capitol.hawaii.gov
Members:
Rosalyn H. Baker, 808-586-6070 senbaker@capitol.hawaii.gov
Laura H. Thielen, 808-587-8388 senthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov
Les Ihara Jr., 808-586-6250 senihara@capitol.hawaii.gov

Contact the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment
Chair: Mike Gabbard, 808-586-6830 sengabbard@capitol.hawaii.gov
Vice Chair: Gil Riviere, 808-586-7330 senriviere@capitol.hawaii.gov
Members:
Clarence K. Nishihara, 808-586-6970 sennishihara@capitol.hawaii.gov
Russell E. Ruderman, 808-586-6890 senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov
Karl Rhoads, 808-586-6130 senrhoads@capitol.hawaii.gov

Contact the Senate Committee on Water and Land
Chair: Karl Rhoads, 808-586-6130 senrhoads@capitol.hawaii.gov
Vice Chair: Mike Gabbard, 808-586-6830 sengabbard@capitol.hawaii.gov
Members:
Lorraine R. Inouye, 808-586-7335 seninouye@capitol.hawaii.gov
Laura H. Thielen, 808-587-8388 senthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov
Gil Riviere, 808-586-7330 senriviere@capitol.hawaii.gov

Contact the House Committee on Veterans, Military, & International Affairs, & Culture and the Arts
Chair: Matthew S. Lo Presti, 808-586-6080 replopresti@capitol.hawaii.gov
Vice Chair: Beth Fukumoto, 808-586-9460 repfukumoto@capitol.hawaii.gov
Members:
Romy M. Cachola, 808-586-6010 repcachola@capitol.hawaii.gov
Isaac W. Choy, 808-586-8475 repchoy@capitol.hawaii.gov
Ken Ito, 808-586-8470 repito@capitol.hawaii.gov
Takashi Ohno, 808-586-9415 repohno@capitol.hawaii.gov
Richard H.K. Onishi, 808-586-6120 reponishi@capitol.hawaii.gov
James Kunane Tokioka, 808-586-6270 reptokioka@capitol.hawaii.gov
Justin H. Woodson, 808-586-6210 repwoodson@capitol.hawaii.gov
Gene Ward, 808-586-6421 repward@capitol.hawaii.gov

Contact the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, & Hawaiian Affairs
Chair: Kaniela Ing, 808-586-8525 reping@capitol.hawaii.gov
Vice Chair: Lynn DeCoite, 808-586-6790 repdecoite@capitol.hawaii.gov
Members:
Richard P. Creagan, 808-586-9605 repcreagan@capitol.hawaii.gov
Cedric Asuega Gates, 808-586-8460 repgates@capitol.hawaii.gov
Calvin K. Y. Say, 808-586-6900 repsay@capitol.hawaii.gov
Gregg Takayama, 808-586-6340 reptakayama@capitol.hawaii.gov
Cynthia Thielen, 808-586-6480 repthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov

Contact the House Committee on Water & Land
Chair: Ryan I. Yamane, 808-586-6150 repyamane@capitol.hawaii.gov
Vice Chair: Chris Todd, 808-586-8480 reptodd@capitol.hawaii.gov
Members:
Ty J.K. Cullen, 808-586-8490 repcullen@capitol.hawaii.gov
Sam Satoru Kong, 808-586-8455 repkong@capitol.hawaii.gov
Chris Lee, 808-586-9450 replee@capitol.hawaii.gov
Nicole E. Lowen, 808-586-8400 replowen@capitol.hawaii.gov
Angus L.K. McKelvey, 808-586-6160 repmckelvey@capitol.hawaii.gov
Cynthia Thielen, 808-586-6480 repthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov

Contact the House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection
Chair: Chris Lee, 808-586-9450 replee@capitol.hawaii.gov
Vice Chair: Nicole E. Lowen, 808-586-8400 replowen@capitol.hawaii.gov
Members:
Ty J.K. Cullen, 808-586-8490 repcullen@capitol.hawaii.gov
Sam Satoru Kong, 808-586-8455 repkong@capitol.hawaii.gov
Angus L.K. McKelvey, 808-586-6160 repmckelvey@capitol.hawaii.gov
Chris Todd, 808-586-8480 reptodd@capitol.hawaii.gov
Ryan I. Yamane, 808-586-6150 repyamane@capitol.hawaii.gov
Bob McDermott, 808-586-9730 repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov

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