Petition update

UPDATE! Almost 700 Astronomers Sign Letter Opposing Criminalisation of Mauna Kea Protectors.

Mauna Kea Education and Awareness

Jul 21, 2019 — 

The global astronomy community have spoken out against the criminalisation of Mauna Kea Protectors.

An open letter, currently circulating among astronomy students, teachers and faculty staff, has received 698 signatures (and rising!) The letter also questions the methods the coalition and Hawaiian government are using to push through the TMT project.

The open letter begins:

“We write to express concern about recent events on the Maunakea summit with regards to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). We call upon the astronomy community to recognize the broader historical context of this conflict, and to denounce the criminalization of the protectors on Maunakea. We urge the TMT collaboration and the government of Hawaiʻi to desist from further arresting or charging protectors, and to remove military and law enforcement personnel from the summit.”

It continues:

“We want to echo the work of Indigenous scholars and communities in pointing out how US-based histories of conquest have been exploitative and destructive to Indigenous ways of knowing (science) and being (cosmology) in the continental US and in the Hawaiian context. These histories progressed in lock-step with the development of western “sciences” of personhood: of who and/or what is human, and therefore who must be subhuman, and thus must be subject to control via mechanisms of policing, incarceration, and military violence. As Hawaiian scientist Aurora Kagawa-Viviani writes, “To me, practices of science in its present form smell a lot like the American Manifest Destiny associated with terrible loss for so many indigenous communities.”[1]

We evoke this history because we recognize that the events surrounding TMT occur within a context of US-based injustice in this particular historical moment, including but not limited to the ongoing disproportionate policing and incarceration of members of Indigenous, Black, and brown communities in the US, and the detention of refugee migrants in concentration camps at the US border. To be explicit: institutions of policing, incarceration and militarization have a long history of being used to harm marginalized, racialized communities in this country.”

And states:

“This letter was written by astrophysics graduate students at TMT partner institutions. We acknowledge the relative privilege that we have even as graduate students at these institutions to openly speak out about our concerns with the process of telescope construction. We want to acknowledge our colleagues who are in similar or more junior career stages, whose career prospects are more closely tied to the construction of the telescope, and who may be unable to fully express their concerns and criticisms about this project. While many members of the astronomy community have openly opposed aspects of telescope construction in the last several days, we ask that the community also collectively considers how certain members have been silenced, and how that also speaks to the complex, interlocking structures of power within academic astronomy.”

Read the full letter here: click here


The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is a key investor in the TMT telescope proposed to be built on the Sacred Site of Mauna Kea in Hawai'i.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Founder's Statement of Intent states:

“Our interest in environmental conservation stems from our personal observations of changes in the natural world and from the dependency of all living species on the planet’s health. During our lifetimes we have observed the transformation of much of what was natural wilderness to highly-developed property. Jungles have become golf courses; beaches, condominium developments; and the oceans have been overfished and become garbage dumps. With these changes, precious ecosystem functions are lost, often forever. Huge areas of the planet are in danger of having their basic structure altered as a consequence of development and exploitation of resources.”

Please call the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and request that they DIVEST IMMEDIATELY from the TMT telescope project. Ask them to stand in integrity with their own Statement of Intent. Ask them to call off the National Guard that David Ige is currently sending to Mauna Kea in their name.


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