Re-Posting: Open Letter to the State of Hawaiʻi: End RIMPAC

Due to the broken link to our article, we are re-posting the full article here:

Women’s Voices Women Speak, Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice, World Can’t Wait-Hawaiʻi, Veterans for Peace-Hawai`i, Hawai`i Okinawa Alliance and community allies call on the Hawaiʻi State Government to end the Rim of the Pacific exercises, known as RIMPAC, occurring this July to August 2018.  Instead of the practice of war and more militarism, we call for practicing peace and intergenerational healing in Hawaiʻi, Moana Nui (Oceania), and across the Earth. We envision a future of genuine security where our efforts focus on sovereignties, cultural resurgence, health, food, education, sacred places, housing, sustainability and respect and dignity for all peoples.

RIMPAC is the largest naval exercise in the world, and it takes place in Hawaiian waters. It is part of the U.S Navy’s effort to coordinate military exercises and weapons training with military forces of other nations to control the Pacific and Indian Oceans. RIMPAC was established in 1971 with militaries from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the U.S. Since then, Chile, Colombia, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Peru, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Ecuador, India, Mexico, the Philippines and Russia joined. RIMPAC 2018 will feature 26 nations, including Israel, Brazil, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

RIMPAC increases Hawaiʻi’s dependence on a militarized economy, spending our tax dollars for weapons, assault vehicles, artilleries and technologies to use for domestic and international violence. Tourism colludes with militarism via RIMPAC, as Hawaiʻi hosts an influx of visitors, some of whom contribute to local sex industries supported by sex trafficking. Hawaiʻi can be used for R&R and host for military exercises because it is considered the 50th State of the U.S., an illegal status since the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the 1898 illegal annexation that took place without a treaty and that was opposed by thousands of Kanaka Maoli who signed petitions against it. The military occupation of Hawaiʻi leads to abuses such as, but not limited to:

The U.S. Navy’s fuel storage tank in Red Hill, sits 100 feet over a water aquifer of Honolulu, threatening fresh drinking water of the most populated parts of Oʻahu.

Pōhakuloa, on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, four times larger than Kahoʻolawe, is controlled by the U.S. Army for weapons and military training, affecting the environment and surrounding community with aerosolized Depleted Uranium.

Disinterred and disturbed Kanaka Maoli burial and cultural sites in Mākua Valley (U.S. Army), Mōkapu (Kaneʻohe Marine Corp Base Hawaii), Puʻuloa (Pearl Harbor), and Nohili (Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands) for U.S. military training purposes.

Threats to public information privacy through the Hawaii Cryptologic Center, which houses NSA intelligence, surveillance, and cyberwarfare efforts.

The negative effects of militarism and RIMPAC extend to places to which many in Hawaiʻi can trace their ancestries. For centuries, western empires have colonized Pacific Islands, transforming them into military outposts that subjected the native people to war, rape, repression of sovereignty, environmental contamination, and displacement. Today, the newest iteration of this ongoing history is the Pacific Pivot / Indo-Pacific Rebalance, in which the U.S. leverages its power over its colonial possessions for military weapons testing through a “transit corridor” that projects from the Southern California Range Complex (SCRC) in San Diego, cutting across the Pacific through the Hawaiian Island Range Complex (HIRC), which includes the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and the military installations on the main island chain. Another transit coordinator connects the HIRC to the Mariana Island Training & Testing Area (MITT), including Guåhan (Guam), the southern chain of the Mariana Islands, and parts of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument as land, sea and air zones for U.S. Military training purposes. In between are marine national monuments that can be used for military purposes for “national security.” This military infrastructure across the Pacific links with bases in the Korean peninsula (Jeju Island), Japan (Okinawa), and the Philippines.

Chamoru people are demanding a stop to the creation of live fire bases, such as in Litekyan, Guam because they threaten cultural sites and endangered plants and animals. Filipinos are protesting President Rodrigo Duterte’s support for militarization, which extended martial law in Mindanao and increased extrajudicial killings. The villagers of Gangjeong have resisted a naval base for ballistic missile defense systems on Jeju Island since 2007. Okinawans have sparked an island-wide protests against military bases’ disruption of local democracy and economy, and the daily endangerment to public health and safety. While the military bases are promoted to build mutual security in the region, it is really about the spread of U.S. ideology of nationalist ‘security’ in which nations are addicted to arms and resource extractive economies that fuel climate change, displace Indigenous peoples, worsen out-migration, destroy natural resources, abuse workers, and pollute oceans.

We demand that the Hawaiʻi State Government choose to protect Hawaiʻi citizens, our environment, and a peaceful future, rather than supporting military dependence. Section 1 of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution states that “For the benefit of present and future generations, the State and its political subdivisions shall conserve and protect Hawaii's natural beauty and all natural resources, including land, water, air, minerals and energy sources, and shall promote the development and utilization of these resources in a manner consistent with their conservation and in furtherance of the self-sufficiency of the State. All public natural resources are held in trust by the State for the benefit of the people.”  We call on the State of Hawaiʻi to uphold these Constitutional principles by ending RIMPAC.

Take Action: We call all peoples of Hawaiʻi to demand an end to RIMPAC and to publicly question the need for exercises this June-August 2018.

1) Sign the World Can’t Wait-Hawaiʻi petition to Stop RIMPAC.

2) Join us in community efforts working for peace and restoring our environments. Our coalition is organizing a series of community actions to counter the unquestioned acceptance of RIMPAC. Instead, we are building communities that seek genuinely secure futures where our economies are no longer designed to support war, and INSTEAD, where we have adequate food, shelter, education, health care and housing. All are welcome to attend these free community events--

Sunday, June 24, 9:00 am: Irei no Hi Annual Okinawa Peace Memorial --. Jikoen Hongwanji, 1731 N. School St.Kalihi.

Saturday June 30, 10:00 am: Rally, March, and Vigil Against RIMPAC at Pearl Harbor. Learn details at

Saturday, July 14, 4:00 to 6:00 pm: Nā Hua Ea: Words of Genuine Security, Genuine Sovereignty--Poetry, Mele, Community Reports, ʻAwa. Papahana Kuaola in Heʻeia.

3) Contact State Officials below with this message:

“As a community member, I support putting an end to the Rim of the Pacific Exercises in Hawaiʻi that pollute and destroy our lands and waters, and further our dependence on a militarized economy.”

Contact the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi, Military Affairs Department and Hawaii Military Affairs Council (MAC) 808-380-2612

Contact the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs

Chair: Clarence K. Nishihara, 808-586-6970 Vice Chair: Glenn Wakai, 808-586-8585


Rosalyn H. Baker, 808-586-6070

Laura H. Thielen, 808-587-8388

Les Ihara Jr., 808-586-6250

Contact the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment

Chair: Mike Gabbard, 808-586-6830

Vice Chair: Gil Riviere, 808-586-7330


Clarence K. Nishihara, 808-586-6970

Russell E. Ruderman, 808-586-6890

Karl Rhoads, 808-586-6130

Contact the Senate Committee on Water and Land

Chair: Karl Rhoads, 808-586-6130

Vice Chair: Mike Gabbard, 808-586-6830


Lorraine R. Inouye, 808-586-7335

Laura H. Thielen, 808-587-8388

Gil Riviere, 808-586-7330

Contact the House Committee on Veterans, Military, & International Affairs, & Culture and the Arts

Chair: Matthew S. Lo Presti, 808-586-6080

Vice Chair: Beth Fukumoto, 808-586-9460


Romy M. Cachola, 808-586-6010

Isaac W. Choy, 808-586-8475

Ken Ito, 808-586-8470

Takashi Ohno, 808-586-9415

Richard H.K. Onishi, 808-586-6120

James Kunane Tokioka, 808-586-6270

Justin H. Woodson, 808-586-6210

Gene Ward, 808-586-6421

Contact the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, & Hawaiian Affairs

Chair: Kaniela Ing, 808-586-8525

Vice Chair: Lynn DeCoite, 808-586-6790


Richard P. Creagan, 808-586-9605

Cedric Asuega Gates, 808-586-8460

Calvin K. Y. Say, 808-586-6900

Gregg Takayama, 808-586-6340

Cynthia Thielen, 808-586-6480

Contact the House Committee on Water & Land

Chair: Ryan I. Yamane, 808-586-6150

Vice Chair: Chris Todd, 808-586-8480


Ty J.K. Cullen, 808-586-8490

Sam Satoru Kong, 808-586-8455

Chris Lee, 808-586-9450

Nicole E. Lowen, 808-586-8400

Angus L.K. McKelvey, 808-586-6160

Cynthia Thielen, 808-586-6480

Contact the House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection

Chair: Chris Lee, 808-586-9450

Vice Chair: Nicole E. Lowen, 808-586-8400


Ty J.K. Cullen, 808-586-8490

Sam Satoru Kong, 808-586-8455

Angus L.K. McKelvey, 808-586-6160

Chris Todd, 808-586-8480

Ryan I. Yamane, 808-586-6150

Bob McDermott, 808-586-9730

Reflection on Lā Hoʻi Hoʻi Ea 2018, Hawaiian Sovereignty Restoration Day

My name is Ellen.  As an organizer of WVWS, I have come to connect my activism against a world of war and military dependence, into the healing of the oppression in my body.

As an Ilokana (a Filipino ethnic group) living in Hawaiʻi, we learn that the Kanaka Maoli struggles for sovereignty since 1893 is inextricably connected to their resistance to their native lands being used for military training, weapons storage, and settler colonial cultural expansion. 

I have come to confront the taking of Hawaiʻi by the U.S. was to use these islands as a stepping stone to militarily oppress the Filipino people's own desire for Independence and self-determination after the Spanish American War.

But as history has come to unfold, Philippines and Hawaii have been colonized. Our lands and bodies used for corporate exploitation and imperial nation's expansionism.

This history is felt within the body today.

As a woman organizer, I witness my sisters struggling with health and economic sustainability, as we join the hard work of movements refusing to comply with wealth accumulation and instead fight against the hand that abuses our lands and our bodies.  Friends die in poverty, with no money to their names, because they have chosen a life of transforming and modeling radical alternatives to our capitalist captivity. Elders suffer with health issues, but who don't have support to access health care. Or have the willingness to show vulnerability because warriors are necessary to fight the threat of militarism & settler violence/ignorance that relentlessly rolls onto shore.

Ancestral trauma and pain can claim places of our bodies where we have not acknowledged hurt.

For many women, this place of pain has been in our reproductive organs, the place where we practice creativity, to bring new human life to this earth. Where we bring in the next line to our lineages, to extend our survival for another generation. 

Histories of militarism and war has assaulted women, our vaginas, our wombs, as the site where men bring their wounds from battle, and unload their traumas into their women.  Women are treated as ravaged bodies where terrorism of families, whole communities and nations take place. Women are taught to be silent, to not say anything, in order to survive the transition into a new dominant order. What is the sound of our voices when it is going through these experiences, but commanded to be quiet, filled with other narratives more important to be told, or labeled inconvenient?

WVWS participated in LHE 2018 again, like previous years, to connect the histories of militarization in Hawai'i to that of the Philippines, Guahan, Okinawa, Korea, and Black America. We see sovereignty as a world when our lands are used to intervene, stop and heal the systemic dependence on militarism and imperialist development that connects this place to other places in the world, such as those places that we all have ancestral ties to.

We see sovereignty as the recognition and practice of it in our own bodies, relations and communities. How can we stop being addicted to the pain that has been inflicted upon us, and reproduced through us?  How can we look to that which has been in pain, and to listen to what it is saying? How can we restore its dignity and voice?  When we break through the shame, fear, uncertainty of speaking about these things, a message, history, knowledge and experience about how all our nations want peace can be heard. The challenge is how to pay attention and let those lessons lead our creation.

Calling for an end to RIMPAC Exercises in Hawai'i

June 22, 2018.  Women's Voices Women Speak is part of a coalition of organizations, such as Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, World Can't Wait Hawai'i, Hawaii-Okinawa Alliance, asking the State of Hawaiʻi to end the Rim of the Pacific Exercises planned to begin in Hawaiian waters at the end of June to August 2018.  We are asking the settler state of Hawaiʻi to make the decision to protect the peoples of this place.

While some members of WVWS are non-Indigenous settlers in  Hawaiʻi, we have seen and felt the violent effect of militarization in Hawaiian lands and on Kanaka Maoli people. We have felt that violence in our own homelands and our families today. An article by 2 Hawai'i born Filipina organizers spoke out against the Philippine Navy's participation in RIMPAC, reminding our communities of the violence that militarization has done in ancestral lands outside of Hawai'i--why should we continue to join and support current military efforts if it has never benefitted our lands and peoples?

As such, we ask those who work or reside in the settler state of Hawaiʻi to realize their responsibility to decolonize and heal.  This includes making the decision to affirm the truth of Hawaiian Sovereignty by standing up for the protection of Hawaiʻis lands from more military training. The bombing on Pōhakuloa will continue to intensify under RIMPAC. There will be an increase in sex-trafficking as soldiers from around the world will be using our islands for rest and recreation and justifying the commercialization of children's, women's and LGBTQ bodies.

We ask for our society to believe in the Indigenous people's values and knowledge to take care of our lands, instead of siding with capitalist industries and markets that extract or build over our natural environment for more urbanization, commercialization and militarization, which will not solve our problem of houselessness that all of us cannot ignore in the streets.

We envision Hawai'i to be the center of Peace Restoration, instead of war mongering. We believe in all of our capacities to reconnect and find the truth that there are other ways that we can build our communities based on sustainability and clean energy, based on healing our relationships for future generations. 

Journeys of Personal Decolonization at Roots Cafe

In January 2018, WVWS members Kasha Ho and Aiko Yamashiro worked together with Kaʻiulani Odom and the amazing folks at Roots Cafe to organize an Okinawan-themed dinner as part of their Decolonizing Diets dinner series. The theme for the evening was "Finding Our Way Home: Journeys of Personal Decolonization." Events at Roots Cafe are always so special and so transformative. You leave feeling cracked open, but also healed. On this particular evening, we enjoyed Roots’s take on Okinawan dishes like ninjin shirishiri, kandabajuushi, raafute, and yasei namashi, with many cherished recipes shared by family and community members.

[mahalo to Kauila Niheu for the photos in this post]



There was another kind of sustenance on offer too, in the form of presentations from several speakers with ancestral ties to Okinawa, sharing their own personal paths towards decolonization—through language, music, parenthood, and healing. Tina Grandinetti shared the following presentation about the lessons she learned during WVWSʻs trip to Okinawa as part of the International Womenʻs Network Against Militarism gathering in July 2017.


Last summer, I was fortunate enough to be part of the Hawaiʻi delegation to a gathering of the International Women’s Network Against Militarism in Okinawa. It was my first visit I was 4 years old, and it was a strange kind of homecoming. As so many second-generation kids know, visiting the birthplace of your parents is weird… Reuniting with family you haven’t seen in years, navigating language barriers, and being confronted with your own ignorance about your culture is complicated. And to have all of that tied up in the reality of militarism and occupation was even harder.

My mom left Okinawa when she was 18, and while I know shes proud to be Uchinanchu, she’s always kept her life in Okinawa at a distance, never letting me and my sister get too close. I knew there was pain there, but I didn’t really understand why. Before I left for Okinawa, my mother, who was born and raised in Kin town, adjacent to Camp Hansen, told me that she didn’t want me to romanticize Okinawa and its people. She said life there is hard, and you can’t understand any of it in 2 weeks.

But she didn’t have to worry about romanticizing. Because, as beautiful as Okinawa is, it’s hard to romanticize a place that is scarred with barbed wire fences marking off 18 percent of the island as US military property. Where the sounds of waves washing up on a beach are drowned out by military helicopters flying overhead. Where a shrine sits on a quiet rural road marking the site where Rina Shimabukuro was murdered - just one of hundreds of women who have been victims of sexual abuse at the hands of US servicemen. Its hard to romanticize your family’s hometown as you’re catcalled and verbally abused by young American men from the base next door.

Still, my mother was right. I couldn’t understand a lot of what I experienced in Okinawa. Though our delegation had the privilege of learning from the powerful women who help lead Okinawa’s anti-base movement, we are still struggling to wrap our heads around the intricacies of power and exploitation, white supremacy and empire, capitalism and racism, that might explain why our people in Okinawa, Hawaiʻi, Korea, Guam and the Philippines continue to suffer under the grip of US imperialism. It’s hard to understand why our islands continue to be exploited and even harder to imagine ways that we can fight against this exploitation and win. Its impossible to understand what it felt like for my grandmother, who survived one of the bloodiest battles in World War II and saw a quarter of her people die at the hands of the Japanese and American armies.

But there are some things that I think I was able to understand- partly because I grew up here in Hawaiʻi, where the US military exploits Kanaka Maoli lands and similarly, meets the sustained resistance of strong, Indigenous people. I understood the elderly men and women on the front lines of Henoko who knew from tragic experience that the militarization of islands like Okinawa and Hawaiʻi do NOT make them safer. And I think after the missile scare last week, we all know that in our gut- that these bases might claim to protect us, but really, turn our islands into both targets and weapons in wars that we want nothing to do with. To me, that was plain and simple, and it felt so empowering to see so many people saying loud and clear that they reject those lies, and that they want real peace and genuine security.

Other things were more complicated though. The hardest thing about this trip for me was coming face to face with the trauma that Okinawans have faced, the trauma that has festered in my own family. I think part of me thought that if I went there it would be like coming full circle, that it would help my mom move past the pain of growing up in the aftermath of the war, in poverty, under US occupation.

It didn’t. My mom decided not to come tonight. It still hurts too much.

So even months after leaving Okinawa, I’m still learning how deep these wounds are. I’m still getting angrier and more confused. And now more than ever, doubting whether digging up the past is helping to heal or hurting even more. But the moment I keep coming back to happened out on the water in Oura Bay, where we joined a fleet of local fishermen and activists on fishing boats and kayaks to protest the expansion of Camp Schwab. There, a ring of orange buoys stretches far out into the pristine bay, marking the construction zone where 21 million cubic meters of sand and soil are being dumped into the sea to create an airfield for use by the US military. Out on the water, we watched the construction crane at work, and heard the blocks of concrete infill crash into reef.

Our captain, Koshin Nakamoto, a local fisherman who has been fighting base expansion for 20 years gave our delegation the opportunity to address the Okinawa Defense Bureau officials who were patrolling the construction site and video taping our every move. Aiko took the mic, and over a loudspeaker, she wove connections between Hawaiʻi, and Okinawa, “Our hearts are so sad to see this construction, because we are island people too… We thank the Okinawan people for protecting this place because we know it’s the same ocean. In Hawaiʻi we say aloha ʻāina, and when we say aloha ʻāina we mean we love the land, and we love the ocean, because we know we are connected and we need it”. Then, she knotted those connections together, firmly, when she called out across the water, “Mina san! [everybody!] Aloha ʻĀina!! Aloha ʻĀina! Aloha ʻĀina!”

As I shouted these words along with Aiko, all of those distances--cultural, geographic, political--between Okinawa and Hawaiʻi collapsed in my mind. Nakamoto-san was fighting for peace on one small patch of ocean that he loved so much. Aiko was fighting for another. But in the end, it’s the same ocean, and it’s the same love. As painful as it was to witness those concrete blocks crashing into the sea, and to fight against that kind of destruction, the struggle felt in some ways, like healing.

A few weeks ago, my mom told me that being Okinawan has a high cost. That if I want to learn what it means to be Uchinanchu, she can’t be the one to teach me.

That was hard to hear.

But I think I’m learning to be okay with it, because she’s already taught me more than she knows, and I have other teachers to step in where she can’t. I think that’s what happens when you live in Hawai’i surrounded by so many aloha ‘āina, so many powerful activists and protectors.

And the thing is, if trauma can be intergenerational, then healing can be too. It might be slow, but it will happen, and that’s the most important thing this trip taught me.

--Tina Grandinetti

Huakaʻi to Ulupō

January's false alarm missile attack was a good and terrible opportunity to reflect on what genuine security means to us. In December 2017, Women’s Voices Women Speak got to meet with aloha ‘āina Kaleomanuʻiwa Wong for a huaka’i to Ulupō Heiau. Before going to Ulupō, Kaleo took us to a Maunawili hike entrance at the base of Pali Highway, where signs are posted about unexploded ordnance. We learned that where Windward HPU campus exists today used to be a military training ground, Pali Camp. That the rich waterways of Maunawili was the site of one of the first water diversions on Oʻahu, to Waimānalo plantations owned by a planter named Irwin. That Maunawili was so famous for its poi that Queen Kaʻahumanu would send for it all the way from Waikīkī.

Photo: The IG post that inspired our huaka'i. Mahalo to Kaleo for letting us repost his photo.

Photo: Aunty Terri and Aiko stayed by the road next to this healthy pōpolo berry

Then we drove down to Ulupō and Kaleo shared some moʻolelo about Kailua, and the ʻili ʻāina of Kūkanono. As he talked, the wonders of that ʻāina began to shift and settle around us. The body of Olomana lying above the YMCA, cool water springs below. The stomping grounds of Kākuhihewa and Kualiʻi. A land famous for navigators, with sweet edible mud brought from far across the Pacific as proof of this story. We marveled at the excessive amount of pōhaku (some all the way from ʻEwa, from Kualoa) used to make the heiau. It is amazing this structure is standing, Kaleo shared, there is another heiau close by named Kaanahau, which was taken apart for stone for Kalanianaʻole Highway. Ulupō heiau is right by the road but still here, for some reason. We wound our way down through the work of many hands, cultivating kalo, ʻulu, niu, lāʻau, and other native plants, helping water to flow.

Photos: walking through the work of many hands

Kaleo took us to a portal, overlooking Kawainui Marsh and the gentle curves of Mahinui Ridge. A few decades ago, there were permits approved to drain the marsh and erect a shopping center here, he shared. “We like to take the keiki here and ask them what they see. Think of a swamp: what do you see? ‘Shrek!,’ they yell. ‘Alligators!’ Think of a marsh: what do you see?” Mud, grass, birds, and Kaleo reminded us: a “wildlife sanctuary” where people must be kept out to protect the environment.

“Think of a fishpond: what do you see?” The kids’ answers change, Kaleo’s face lights up too. They say “food!” “Life!” At one time, Kawainui Fishpond was the second largest fishpond on O’ahu. The low estimate is that 250,000 pounds of fish could be harvested from this pond.

Our dream is that one day this will be a fishpond again, Kaleo shared. He continued: so much fish that when they jump, they fall down to the water like pouring rain. In the meantime they grow a little food here, more and more, and bring keiki here, bring the women inmates here, bring the community back. They mālama this place and eat plate lunch. They tell these moʻolelo, to learn to see the moʻo again, beneath the Target and the Whole Foods. They remember from Kahinihini`ulaʻs story, not to overlook even the smallest child. They share food from this ʻāina to reconnect us to these relationships.

We were so moved and reinvigorated by this work of genuine security and peacebuilding, and there are many lessons planted in us that will continue to grow and feed us. Mahalo nui to the kupaianaha lands of Kailua and to Kaleo for showing us how to love and care for each other. For more about the awesome work of this hui please see their blog, at:

"Militarism Isn't Working" Says Dr. Kim Compoc

Check out this Hawaii Public Radio Interview with Dr. Kim Compoc, one of the delegates from Hawaii who attended the International Women's Network Against Militarism gathering in Okinawa in June 2017.

Reflections & Demands from the IWNAM 2017 Okinawa Meeting

Check out this Summit magazine article on the reflections of  Hawaiʻi delegates when they attended the Okinawa gathering of the 9th International Women's Network Against Militarism, June 22-26, 2017.  Read also the political demands of women from the countries of South Korea, Japan, Okinawa, the Philippines, Guahan, Hawaiʻi, U.S. and Puerto Rico. No Base!