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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.

Kelsey Amos

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 [email protected]

Saturday June 30, 10 a.m.: Rally, March, and Vigil Against RIMPAC at Pearl Harbor. Details here. Contact: [email protected]

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 [email protected]

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 [email protected]

Contact the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs
Chair: Clarence K. Nishihara, 808-586-6970 [email protected] Vice Chair: Glenn Wakai, 808-586-8585 [email protected]
Rosalyn H. Baker, 808-586-6070 [email protected]
Laura H. Thielen, 808-587-8388 [email protected]
Les Ihara Jr., 808-586-6250 [email protected]

Contact the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment
Chair: Mike Gabbard, 808-586-6830 [email protected]
Vice Chair: Gil Riviere, 808-586-7330 [email protected]
Clarence K. Nishihara, 808-586-6970 [email protected]
Russell E. Ruderman, 808-586-6890 [email protected]
Karl Rhoads, 808-586-6130 [email protected]

Contact the Senate Committee on Water and Land
Chair: Karl Rhoads, 808-586-6130 [email protected]
Vice Chair: Mike Gabbard, 808-586-6830 [email protected]
Lorraine R. Inouye, 808-586-7335 [email protected]
Laura H. Thielen, 808-587-8388 [email protected]
Gil Riviere, 808-586-7330 [email protected]

Contact the House Committee on Veterans, Military, & International Affairs, & Culture and the Arts
Chair: Matthew S. Lo Presti, 808-586-6080 [email protected]
Vice Chair: Beth Fukumoto, 808-586-9460 [email protected]
Romy M. Cachola, 808-586-6010 [email protected]
Isaac W. Choy, 808-586-8475 [email protected]
Ken Ito, 808-586-8470 [email protected]
Takashi Ohno, 808-586-9415 [email protected]
Richard H.K. Onishi, 808-586-6120 [email protected]
James Kunane Tokioka, 808-586-6270 [email protected]
Justin H. Woodson, 808-586-6210 [email protected]
Gene Ward, 808-586-6421 [email protected]

Contact the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, & Hawaiian Affairs
Chair: Kaniela Ing, 808-586-8525 [email protected]
Vice Chair: Lynn DeCoite, 808-586-6790 [email protected]
Richard P. Creagan, 808-586-9605 [email protected]
Cedric Asuega Gates, 808-586-8460 [email protected]
Calvin K. Y. Say, 808-586-6900 [email protected]
Gregg Takayama, 808-586-6340 [email protected]
Cynthia Thielen, 808-586-6480 [email protected]

Contact the House Committee on Water & Land
Chair: Ryan I. Yamane, 808-586-6150 [email protected]
Vice Chair: Chris Todd, 808-586-8480 [email protected]
Ty J.K. Cullen, 808-586-8490 [email protected]
Sam Satoru Kong, 808-586-8455 [email protected]
Chris Lee, 808-586-9450 [email protected]
Nicole E. Lowen, 808-586-8400 [email protected]
Angus L.K. McKelvey, 808-586-6160 [email protected]
Cynthia Thielen, 808-586-6480 [email protected]

Contact the House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection
Chair: Chris Lee, 808-586-9450 [email protected]
Vice Chair: Nicole E. Lowen, 808-586-8400 [email protected]
Ty J.K. Cullen, 808-586-8490 [email protected]
Sam Satoru Kong, 808-586-8455 [email protected]
Angus L.K. McKelvey, 808-586-6160 [email protected]
Chris Todd, 808-586-8480 [email protected]
Ryan I. Yamane, 808-586-6150 [email protected]
Bob McDermott, 808-586-9730 [email protected]