Anti-war organizers on the Pacific coast protest US military exercises

Cancel RIMPAC and Resist NATO coalitions denounce US-led military exercises taking place in Hawai’i

June 27, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo: US Navy

Anti-war activists with the international Cancel RIMPAC Campaign and the Resist NATO Coalition are organizing to protest the RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific Exercise), the largest international maritime warfare exercise, taking place in Hawai’i, which is hosted by the United States Navy‘s Indo-Pacific Command, set to begin on June 27. Organizers are also opposing the upcoming NATO Summit in Washington, DC, which will take place from July 9 to 11. These two groups held a joint press conference to quick off future actions on June 26.

Cancel RIMPAC is holding a week of action culminating in a People’s Summit and mobilizations in San Diego on June 29 and 30. The Resist NATO Coalition will also hold a People’s Summit and mobilization on July 6 and 7 in Washington DC to oppose the NATO Summit.

Dozens of organizations from across the Pacific which gathered in the Protecting Oceania Summit also issued a statement calling for RIMPAC to be cancelled. “We stand together, in order to fulfill our sacred duty to be good ancestors, and firmly oppose the militarization of our islands and oceans…These exercises threaten our sovereignties and our communities, human and other-than-human alike, here in Hawai’i, across Moananuiākea, and throughout the world.”

“We who love and value life oppose these exercises without equivocation and for the sake of every oppressed community in every corner of the earth,” the statement continued. “We stand committed to a free and liberated Oceania and will remain steadfast in our commitment until these exercises cease to exist.”

Eric Tandoc of Malaya San Diego, a US-based diaspora Filipino organization which rejects the governments of Marcos and Duterte, shared that “earlier this year on January 22nd, a major storm hit San Diego causing massive flooding in these very same neighborhoods near the [US military] base. And to this day, there are hundreds of flood victims who have lost everything and still have not been able to return to their homes.” 

Tandoc added, “San Diego is home to a significant Filipino population. And these RIMPAC exercises are rallying the navies of nearly 30 countries to provoke war with China, putting our relatives and loved ones back in the Philippines more at risk of losing their lives and getting caught in the crossfire of a war they do not want.”

Rose Elovitz of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Hawai’i drew connections between the genocide in Palestine and the US occupation of Hawaiian land, describing how “bombs that are tested in the sacred Mākua Valley are the same bombs dropped in Gaza.” 

Elovitz articulated that the RIMPAC exercises “are not games at all—they are an actual war with devastating impacts for Kānaka Oiwi (Native Hawaiians) and all residents of Hawai’i.”

In condemning NATO, Sammy Alqasem of the Palestinian Youth Movement said, “NATO continues to support Israel as the main outpost of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. Member countries use NATO’s strategy of security through wars of counter-‘terrorism’, counterinsurgency, mass surveillance abroad to suppress peoples’ struggles in its home countries like the Palestine Solidarity Movement in the US To resist NATO is to resist Zionism and US imperialism.”