Report on July 15, 2012 Protest at Pohakuloa against RIMPAC Bombing
As expected, our peaceful protest at Pohakuloa on Sunday, July 15, 2012 against RIMPAC bombing and in support of aloha ‘aina encountered pro-military US flag waivers at the main gate area of the base. What appears to be a Waikoloa/Kona based group of about 17 people calling themselves “The Gathering of Eagles” with more than 3 times the number of large American flags than people were set up when we arrived. The Eagles must monitor our www.malu-aina.org website and mobilize when they see a notice of a protest at Pohakuloa.
Our group of about thirty set up along Saddle Rd. opposite the main gate and represented all parts of the island. We had people from Hilo, Kona, Waimea and and even Na’alehu, that included old time Kaho’olawe “Stop the Bombing” activists, and some young Hawaiian activists picking up the torch of “Aloha ‘Aina.” We even had members of the Ka Pele family who some years back led a peace gathering to pule and build an ahu at Pu’u Ka Pele on Pohakuloa in opposition to the bombing. Access to that ahu and pu’u has since been blocked by concrete barricades and chain linked barbed wire fence.
The ‘Red Flag” was up along Saddle Rd. as we approached the base indicating live fire. Pohakuloa and the sacred ‘aina is coming under intense bombing this month as part of the world’s largest military exercise –RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) taking place on land and sea around Hawaii. The every two year RIMPAC is growing larger. This year’s assault involves 22 nations, 42 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel.
In contrast to the Eagles exaggerated American flags and few cliche signs such as “God Bless America” “Support the Troops” and “Freedom isn’t Free”, we erected an Hawaiian flag behind a sign which said “End U.S. Occupation,” reflecting the fact of the independent nation of Hawaii’s 120 years under U.S. occupation. Some of our other signs said: “Aloha ‘Aina: A Call to Action.” “Stop the Bombing” “Stop RIMPAC” “Sacred Mountains Under Siege” “Military Swallowing Hawaii” “Depleted Uranium Radiation Cover-Up” “Don’t Iraq Iran” “Drones Killing civilians equals war crimes” “Money for education not war” “Hawaii dishonored by war games” and “Dear Soldier: Please refuse to kill.” We even made a sign that said “Aloha Walking Eagles.”
Throughout the 2 hour protest, an Eagle on a bull horn hurled hostilities and insults toward us across Saddle Rd. In our pre-protest flyer we urged people to come with the spirit of aloha and treat all people with respect, even those who disagree with us. We urged people to not return insult for insult. Stand firm with aloha. In contrast to the Eagles bullying, we simply repeatedly played the beautiful, gentle, calming song entitled “Pohakuloa” by Gary Haleamau on our solar powered sound system. It’s available on CD and youtube and is about the place — Pohakuloa, the union of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa speaking to our hearts. I urge everyone to listen to that beautiful song and feel the pain of the people and the land under the bombs and ongoing U.S. occupation. I let Gary Haleamau know that we would be playing his song about Pohakuloa at our Pohakuloa peace gathering.
At the conclusion of the 2 hour sign holding, we joined hands in prayer and then gathered nearby at Mauna Kea park for a picnic and sharing. Despite the strong winds moving through the Saddle area that made holding onto signs difficult and blew food off our plates, we expressed thanks to ke akua and one another for coming together. We were aware that such winds that made visible spinning dust devils, could also be spreading the deadly depleted uranium contamination confirmed to be present at Pohakuloa. But that is part of the price of standing up to stop the bombing and calling for restoration of the Hawaiian nation. In that we agree with the Eagles: “Freedom isn’t free.” But we would add, there is no flag big enough to hide the fact that we must put an end to war before war puts an end to humanity and its ignorance that might makes right.
War is not the answer. Aloha is!
PS I’ll post photos when available on our website www.malu-aina.org