Following 14,000-gallon gas spill, Pacific representatives name for UN investigation

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This story is printed as a part of the International Indigenous Affairs Desk, an Indigenous-led collaboration between Grist, Indian Nation At present, and Excessive Nation Information.

The International Indigenous Youth Caucus on Thursday demanded that the United Nations ship investigators to Hawaii to probe the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, a sequence of World Warfare II-era reserve tanks which have leaked at least 14,000 gallons of fuel-laced water into Honolulu’s groundwater aquifer. The Caucus additionally urged the U.N. to re-inscribe Hawaii on the record of non-self governing territories – a transfer that may classify Hawaii as a colonized territory alongside Guam, the Falkland Islands, Western Sahara and 14 others. 

“We’re imagined to have entry to water for our ceremony, for clear ingesting water,” mentioned Makanalani Malia Gomes, a Pacific consultant of the Caucus. “After we guarantee Indigenous peoples rights, we make sure the rights of all folks of Hawaii, it’s a human proper.”

The remarks come as Native Hawaiians demand the U.S. Navy take motion at Pink Hill after the invention of the gas leak last November pressured the closure of water wells which serve practically half-a-million residents on the island. Coupled with ongoing drought, Hawaii’s Board of Water has requested residents to reduce water use by 10 percent

In December 2021, the Hawaii Division of Well being ordered the U.S. Navy to empty the power, however the Navy filed authorized appeals to combat the order. Final month, Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin announced that the power can be closed, however thus far, no timeline for the closure has been provided. Earlier this month, the Navy dropped its lawsuit towards the Division of Well being. 

The Navy was unable to supply a timeline or remark at publication.

Geoffrey Roth, Standing Rock Sioux descendant and a member of the Everlasting Discussion board, says UNPFII leaders will consider the Youth Caucus’ request for a remaining report back to be introduced to the United Nations primary physique for motion. “We work to type the precise suggestions that go into the report,” he mentioned. “I’d like to take a look at it extra and perhaps sit down and discuss to them as properly.”

According to the United Nations, at its founding, practically a 3rd of the world’s inhabitants lived in colonized territories. In 1990, the UN proclaimed the Worldwide Decade of the Eradication of Colonialism. Starting in 2021, the Common meeting declared 2021-2030 the Fourth Worldwide Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. “Inscribe us again on the record in order that we will develop into self-determining,” mentioned Gomes.

In January 1893, U.S. troops invaded the Kingdom of Hawaii, deposing Queen Lili’uokalani. Previous to invasion, the Kingdom had established diplomatic agreements with the US and maintained practically 100 consulates and legations all over the world. In December 1893, U.S. President Grover Cleveland acknowledged that Marines had illegally invaded the Kingdom, however didn’t withdraw troops. In 1959, each Hawaii and Alaska had been faraway from the UN’s record of non-self governing territories after they had been granted statehood. Whereas UNPFII leaders proceed their dialogue with the Youth Caucus to finalize a report for the U.N.’s primary physique, Gomes provided a clear-eyed imaginative and prescient for his or her desired end result.

“The US’ army must be out of the entire Pacific,” mentioned Gomes. “Hawaii and the whole Pacific ought to be demilitarized instantly.”

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