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Anti-Militarization Conference Meets
Global group shares tales of turmoil from their homelands
BY VICKI VIOTTI, Advertiser Staff Writer
4 March 2005
A small but diverse cohort from the global war resistance movement coalesced this week at a small camp in Wai`anae, and yesterday participants started their four-day conference on militarization by immersing themselves in the history of conflict between Hawaiians and the armed forces here.
The group of 18 - including survivors of nuclear radiation from the Marshall Islands and Chernobyl, and anti-war activists from Okinawa, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawai`i and the Mainland - began their tour at the main gate at Makua Military Reservation, hearing an overview of the community opposition to live-fire training exercises there.
They traveled to the grounds of `Iolani Palace for a mini-lecture on the monarchy's overthrow and the Hawaiian political renaissance, and ended up at Camp Smith, the headquarters for the military's Pacific Command.
The final act of the day, a gathering at the base's main gate, included a prayer and the placing of symbolically cleansing ti leaves on the wall of the gate.
The conference was an extension of a meeting at Majuro last weekend, a meeting that marked the 51st anniversary of the atomic bomb testing at Bikini. It also is part of an ongoing "Land Is Life" series that over the past decade has convened in Okinawa, Guam and Vieques, Puerto Rico, said organizer Kyle Kajihiro.
William Aila Jr., a Wai`anae resident with family ties to Mäkua and who has been a principal in the opposition to training there, described the Army's "controlled burn" of brush that the wind whipped into a summer wildfire in 2003.
He also related the legends of Makua being the birthplace of the first Hawaiians.
"When Hawaiians say this valley is sacred - those who trace their genealogy here - it's sacred," he said. "To those who have the bones of their family buried here, it's sacred."
At the palace, activist Soli Niheu retold the history of the Hawaiian protest over bombing at Kaho`olawe, and others in the tour recognized episodes here as similar to their own conflicts with the military.