For Immediate Release Geneva, Switzerland | 22 March 2021
A team of Indigenous Chamorro, Hawaiians, and Okinawans recently gave a joint presentation at the United Nations Human Rights Council 46th session in Geneva, Switzerland calling for a reduction in the United States military presence in their islands.
The presentation was sponsored by the International Committee For the Indigenous Americans (Incomindios), a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the UN Economic and Security Council, and co-sponsored by the Koani Foundation and the Peace For Okinawa Coalition.
The presentation was done virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. All of the presenters are Indigenous to the Pacific.
The U.S. military is increasing its presence in Guam, Hawaii, the Northern Marianas, and Okinawa, including the building of a large new base at Henoko, Okinawa, and the creation of the Mariana Islands Training and Testing area (MITT). The presenters oppose the increase.
“The Indigenous peoples of these islands have come together to jointly call for the demilitarization of our islands,” said event moderator Robert Kajiwara, a Native Okinawan and president of the Peace For Okinawa Coalition.
“We, the people of the Peace For Okinawa Coalition strongly demand an immediate reversion of the stolen Ryukyu Islands back to the inhabitants,” said Hoshin Nakamura, a Native Ryukyuan (Okinawan) and professor emeritus of Okinawa University.
Representative Sheila Babauta, a Chammoro and a member of Congress for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, explained the harmful impact that the MITT will have on the environment. “The area expands to over 984,000 square nautical miles, larger than the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico combined,” said Babauta.
“The military presence makes us a principal target for attack from any enemy of the United States,” said H.E. Leon Siu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hawaiian Kingdom. “We're pushing for demilitarization as a matter of survival. We are in imminent danger of being destroyed.”
“As an heir of Kamehameha I and III, I continue my diplomatic protest to the unlawful U.S. military occupation of our islands that is causing daily harm to our people,” said Routh Bolomet, a direct descendant of the royal line of Kamehameha, the original rulers of the Hawaiian Kingdom.