Wednesday, July 8, 2015
SUIT CHALLENGES STATE RESTRICTIONS ON FAITH PRACTITIONERS ON MAUNA KEA; SEEKS TRO AT HEARING THURSDAY.
(PNN) July 8-- A lawsuit has been flied in US District Court challenging restrictions placed upon faith practitioners who hold Mauna a Wākea (Mauna Kea) to be sacred, according to a press release from Hawai`i Island attorney Lanny Sinkin.
Practitioners consider the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on the Mountain to be a desecration of a sacred site.
A hearing is scheduled on a temporary restraining order (TRO) at 9:00 a.m. Thursday (7/9/15) before Judge Derrick Watson, United States District Court, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu.
The petition for the (TRO) is directed to Governor of Hawai`i David Y. Ige; Suzanne Case, Chairperson, Department of Land and Natural Resources, State of Hawai`i (DLNR); Kekoa Kaluhiwa, First Deputy, Department of Land and Natural Resources, State of Hawai`i; Gregory Moerrs, Chair, Maunakea Management Board; and Donald Straney, Chancellor, University of Hawai`i at Hilo.
The release says that the TRO seeks to prevent the imposition of severe restrictions on the rights of those practicing Hawaiian traditional faith. Those restrictions include allowing faith practitioners to ascend the mountain to their sacred sites only at 1:00 p.m. daily for a limited time, limiting the number of practitioners that can ascend to ten and requiring the presence of a Ranger from the Office of Mauna Kea Management (OMKM) to accompany the practitioners.
The suit alleges that these limitations violate the US Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of rights to religious practice and that differential treatment amounts to religious discrimination against the traditional faith under the US Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection of the law.
Astronomers, water trucks, nitrogen trucks, and others freely access the road to the summit with no restrictions.
The suit was filed Monday, July 6, on behalf of plaintiff Frank Kamehaloha Anuumealani Nobriga, Kahuna of the Temple of Lono according to the filing.
In a statement filed in the case, Nobriga said that “in the eyes of the Temple, the disrespect shown for the traditional faith of the Hawaiian people is a matter of record for more than 100 years and most recently found expression through State of Hawai`i actions that either suppressed the traditional faith, limited traditional faith practice, or relegated traditional faith practitioners to a second class citizenship unprotected by the Constitution and laws of the United States."
According to the release the case also brings to the attention of the court new rules issued by the OMKM and DLNR which, taken all together, are designed to drive the "Protectors" off the Mountain and prevent another blockage from stopping the desecration.
On June 24, 2015, the Protectors of Mauna a Wākea, numbering around 750, prevented the construction workers for the TMT from ascending the Mountain. The Protectors have kept a 24 hour vigil at the 9,000 foot level for more than 100 days.
The new rules include shutting down the Visitor Center at the 9,000 foot level, closing all the bathrooms at that level, cutting off the water at that level, no camping, limiting groups that can access the Mountain to no more than ten people, creating a zone within one mile around the road up the Mountain that essentially excludes anyone not specifically allowed up by the OMKM, and otherwise limits activities in a manner specifically designed to prevent the Protectors from once again being successful.
For more information call Lanny Sinkin at (808) 936-4428.