Indigenous Hawaiian activists have been blockading the entrance to the Mauna Kea summit for the past five months in order to stop the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). The proposed construction of the TMT observatory at the site considered sacred by Native Hawaiians, has been heavily opposed by the Indigenous population and environmentalists alike.
On December 19, Hawaiian governor David Ige issued an ultimatum to the protesters participating in the blockade, demanding that they leave the site by December 26. He justified the declaration citing that the TMT International Observatory (TMT-IO) had announced that they will not go ahead with the construction of the telescope at Mauna Kea. Protesters however are wary and commented that they have not received firm confirmation that the TMT project is officially cancelled, and as such, it is likely that TMT-IO will be back.
The same day, Ige asked the police to stand down at the protest site over concerns about the rising costs of maintaining a large police presence. According to the governor, the State of Hawaii has already spent USD 15 million to “cope” with the protests. The government maintains a battalion of police personnel in riot gear and other paraphernalia to ‘deal’ with the protesters, who have been blockading the access road to the summit of Mauna Kea, since mid-July.
Protesters alleged that the governor’s directive to the police was not made in earnest, but to help clear the protesters, particularly as the governor is yet to set a timetable for the withdrawal of the police, and has not offered them any assurances over the possibility of violent eviction. They have also criticized the contradictions and lack of clarity in statements by authorities.
TMT or Thirty Meters Telescope is a large astronomical observatory project that was proposed at the summit of Mauna Kea, a mountain considered sacred by Native Hawaiians. The indigenous inhabitants of the island state have opposed the telescope as they claim it will lead to consistent desecration of their sacred site. 12 observatories are already present on the Mauna Kea summit.
Indigenous protesters held a press conference held following David Ige’s announcement:
Lā 160: Unclear when TMT will be back, we remain vigilant
Gepostet von Pu'uhonua o Pu'uhuluhulu Maunakea am Donnerstag, 19. Dezember 2019