Aloha to our brothers and sisters working for the elimination of depleted uranium weapons
We send our warm greetings and solidarity from Hawai’i to you as you gather in Costa Rica to discuss strategies for an end to uranium weapons.
As you may know, Hawai’i is a sovereign and peaceful nation that was invaded and occupied by the US more than a century ago to extend the U.S. Empire into the Pacific.
Today, while the struggle to free Hawai’i continues, our islands have become one of the most militarized places on the planet, the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command that polices more than half the planet.
The Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) people have suffered the worst impacts of the American occupation. Destruction of sacred sites and endangered ecosystems and more than 828 military contaminated sites threaten the cultural survival of the first people of this land and all who live within the toxic shadows of military bases, which we now know includes Depleted Uranium.
For years, the military had denied ever using DU in our islands. Then in 2005, Earthjustice lawyers and Malama Makua, plaintiffs in a case to protect Makua valley from military training, found an Army message in documents obtained through discovery. This email was a ‘smoking gun’ that confirmed depleted uranium and chemical weapons were used in Hawai’i.
DMZ-Hawai’I / Aloha ‘Aina, a network of groups opposed to militarization in Hawai’i, held a press conference to release this information. The news sparked new activism on O’ahu and Hawai’I island. After our persistent efforts to get the truth, the Army disclosed that the DU was from a classified nuclear weapon system called the Davey Crockett and that it was likely that more than 2000 DU-containing spotting rounds for this weapon were fired in Hawai’i. They also revealed that not only was Lihu’e/Schofield Impact Area contaminated with DU, but so was Pohakuloa on Hawai’I island and possibly Makua on O’ahu’s west side.
The Army and the State of Hawai’i immediately moved to “manage” the problem rather than address the hazard from a precautionary approach. The Army sponsored an investigation that is deeply flawed, and in our opinion, is meant only to deflect from and dismiss what is potentially a much larger problem.
The residents of Hawai’i island pressed their County Council to pass a moratorium on live fire training in Pohakuloa, but this is non-binding. The Army has refused to abide by the resolution. So the protests continue. We demand the clean up and restoration of all military occupied lands to peaceful and sustainable uses.
The Army also recently released information that DU Davey Crockett spotting rounds were also sent to at least 17 locations besides Hawai’i. These other sites included Frankfurt, Germany, Inchon, South Korea and Okinawa.
So our struggle is closely linked to your struggles for a peaceful, just and sustainable world.
Thank you for your efforts. We wish you great success with your conference.
Abolish foreign military bases! End nuclear and uranium weapons!
In peace and solidarity
Program Director, AFSC Hawai’i
Member of DMZ-Hawai’i / Aloha ‘Aina network