Mauna Kea Protectors: Construction “Stand Down” is Only Temporary Victory

April 8, 2015, 3:13 PM HST · Updated April 8, 4:56 PM
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Photo courtesy Kahele Dukelow from a separate sign-waving demonstration held at UHMC on Thursday, April 2, 2015.

Photo courtesy Kahele Dukelow from a separate sign-waving demonstration held at UHMC on Thursday, April 2, 2015.

By Wendy Osher

Demonstrators at Mauna Kea are applauding the Governor’s decision calling for a week-long pause in construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope or TMT atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi.

The announcement comes following the arrest of 12 demonstrators last week, and rallies held across the state by opponents to the project who are seeking protection of Mauna Kea.

Members of the group Mauna Kea Protectors called the halt a temporary victory, but said more is need to stop desecration of the site until legal appeals can work their way through the courts.

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“We’re grateful for the Governor’s action, but this welcome pause does not mean we’re standing down from our vigil of protection, during which so many people have had an opportunity to experience first-hand and from afar the deepest meanings of aloha and the power of peaceful expressions of protest against injustice and environmental disregard,” said Kealoha Pisciotta in a statement issued by the Mauna Kea Protectors group.

“Until there is a commitment from TMT and its international partners to stop their desecration of Mauna Kea, we will stand strong on the mountain to defend it,” said Pisciotta.

Here on Maui, additional sign-waving demonstrations are planned in opposition to the TMT project, and in support of the Protect Mauna Kea mission.

A sign waving event is planned from 3 to 6 p.m. on the lawn before the Lahaina Post Office in Wahikuli; and from 3 to 6 p.m. below the Haleakalā Highway in Central Maui.  The messages at both demonstrations include, “Alohaʻāina,” “We Are Mauna Kea,” “Kū Kiaʻi Mauna,” and “Na ka Lāhui.”

A petition was also launched online at change.org petitioning the governor to stop construction of the TMT and arrests of Mauna Kea protectors.  The petition had garnered the support of 22,461 individuals as of 3 p.m. today, and was just 2,539 short of reaching its 25,000 goal.

In a statement released following the arrests last week, TMT Project Manager Gary Sanders said, “We regret that police action had to be taken to enable our legal access to the project site. TMT respects the rights of everyone to express their viewpoints. We also respect the laws of the State of Hawaiʻi and the seven-year public process and authority that granted us permits to build the Thirty Meter Telescope in the Mauna Kea Science Reserve’s Astronomy Precinct. Like most people in the community we truly believe that science and culture can coexist on Mauna Kea as it has for the past 50 years along with other public uses.”

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