Sunday, June 15, 2008
Musings: In Search of Truth and Justice
Will the concepts of truth and justice ultimately prevail when it comes to the issue of Hawaii’s self-governance?
That was the foremost question on my mind when I left Nawiliwili Park yesterday evening after watching the orderly workings of the Reinstated Hawaiian Nation’s Legislature — it passed a resolution opposing weapons of mass destruction in Hawaii, among other actions — and listening to several inspiring speakers.
It was on my mind because the two words came up often in the Nation's speeches and deliberations, and it seemed to me that the Reinstated Hawaiian government is grounded in those very same concepts, which America supposedly holds dear.
Those who have been deeply involved with moving the Nation toward international recognition for more than a decade are banking on the belief that truth, justice and the rule of law will ultimately allow them to prevail in their effort to free Hawaii from 115 years of American occupation.
One of those believers is Dan Hempey, a Kauai attorney who has been representing the Nation for the past five or six years.
“People will respond to truth and light,” he told the Nation’s Legislature and other onlookers. “People want to be spiritually pono. People support you but are afraid of what they might lose. Show them the justice of your cause and you will win the most powerful tool of all: public opinion. A sovereign nation that has been stolen must be returned. When you act out of resolve and faith, you can shine the light on injustice.”
Prime Minister Henry Noa concurred.
“They’re not going to give you your country back,” he told those who were assembled. “It all comes down to how we’re going to take our country back, how we’re going to peacefully reclaim what is ours. It is by law that we will achieve our goal. We have achieved all the requirements under international law to be recognized as a sovereign nation.”
So how is the Nation pursuing that process of reclaiming its lands and reasserting its authority to govern them?
First, there’s the ongoing case involving its initial claim to Kaho`olawe. On July 31, 2006, Noa and two other nationals were arrested by the state and charged with entering a restricted area. Nation strategists saw Kahoolawe as a good place to start because it is unoccupied and has special status, which was conferred upon it when the U.S. Navy returned the island to the State of Hawaii, specifically to be held in trust for a sovereign Hawaiian nation.
The idea was to get the matter into court, where the Nation could argue that its nationals can’t possibly be charged with trespassing because they hold claim to the land. It’s taken some 18 months for the motion to dismiss to move through District Court on Maui, with a ruling expected any day. If the Nation loses the motion, the case will go to trial.
Hempey said the process could take six years, if rulings are appealed. But it creates a forum where the legal basis for the Hawaiian Nation, including testimony of experts in international law, is entered into the judicial record.
“Whatever the judge rules, you’re proving a Hawaiian nation is emerging,” Hempey told the crowd.
Meanwhile, Noa said, the Nation is moving forward to further establish its claims to land and jurisdiction. It has erected ahu — stone structures that he said are “spiritual and physical symbols of our action” — on Kahoolawe and at a number of sites on so-called “ceded lands” on Maui. The Nation also planned to build ahu at Nawiliwili park and Salt Pond on Kauai today.
“Like the U.S. staking its flags, its our way of staking our claim,” he said, noting that a similar action is planned for Oahu. “I believe you cannot keep stolen property forever, so I will report to the police department that this is property is stolen, and can you assist us in reclaiming it? That is what’s coming down the pike.”
The Nation also has begun serving county officials on Kauai and Maui with formal notice of human rights violations against Kingdom nationals. This action is base on the premise of United Nations Article 15, which holds that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her nationality.
“Our government has advanced to the point of being able to hold the de facto government accountable for its actions against our nationals,” he said.
The Nation also will be asserting its right to travel by issuing license plates this year, and will be forming its own constabulary.
“We’re reclaiming our nation in a very civilized fashion,” Noa said.
In the meantime, John Gates, a member of the Lakota Nation who has moved to Hawaii to help the Reinstated Hawaiian Nation, warned those assembled against ongoing efforts to dismantle the independence movement. He pointed to the state’s current legal efforts to regain control of the so-called “ceded lands” following a state Supreme Court ruling the state could no longer sell or transfer those lands, and the federal government’s attempts to push through the Akaka Bill, which would give Hawaiians the same status as Native Americans.”
“That’s the farthest thing that you want, that model,” said Gates, noting that on his reservation, there’s 70 to 80 percent unemployment and the infant mortality rate is several times higher than the national average. “We’ve lived with the treaty process that have been broken since 1868 and that’s what’s coming your way.
“Don’t let anyone foist a creation of Congress upon you,” he said. “That is not true sovereignty.”
If you’re interested in the Reinstated Hawaiian Nation and the legal and moral principles behind it, I urge you to read the article I published in Honolulu Weekly.
And if you’re at all concerned about the concepts of truth and justice, I urge you to begin educating yourself about America's overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, its subsequent annexation of the Kingdom and the many ongoing efforts to right that wrong. It’s fine to be concerned about the occupations of Iraq and Tibet. Just don’t forget that Hawaii is occupied, too.