Native Hawaiians took their stand to stop the giant telescope construction in Mauna Kea, which is a sacred place.
“Hundreds of protesters on a Hawaii mountain road erupted in cheers Wednesday after construction crews turned around and retreated from the site for what would be one of the world’s largest telescopes”, NBC News reported.
The billion-dollar project has drawn intense opposition from Native Hawaiians who believe that the 18-story observatory on the Big Island’s Mauna Kea would damage the land they consider as sacred.
The protesters are sleeping in vehicles or on cots under a tent and braving weather that’s chilly for Hawaii standards-about 30 degrees at night. Kahookahi Kanuha, one of those arrested, told The Associated Press earlier in the day, “We’re bracing ourselves mentally, spiritually for the battle ahead”. Scientists say that such a powerful telescope ideally located on Mauna Kea’s summit will allow astronomers to see “forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time,” according to the TMT website.
TMT has the approvals needed to proceed with construction.
Honolulu Hawaii is seeing protesters gathering in multitudes to stop the invasion of their sacred land.
Telescope construction began in March near the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island after seven years of environmental studies, public hearings and court proceedings.
Air and light pollution are minimal, skies are clear some 300 days a year and Hawaii is close to the equator, meaning a wide arc of both the Northern and Southern hemispheres is visible from the ground.
Telescope protester Kuuipo Freitas says she and others plan to remain after turning back construction crews seeking to resume work on the planned site of one of the world’s largest telescopes.
Ulises Consuegra of Kailua-Kona was arrested on the county portion of Mauna Kea Access Road shortly after 11 a.m. for the petty misdemeanor offense of obstructing. On Saturday, June 20, the company officials announced that they will continue on with their telescope project starting Wednesday, June 24.
A state report in 2013 said little consideration was given to how these facilities might affect traditional culture because “the significance wasn’t understood at the time”.
Thirty Meter Telescope global Observatory LLC, a nonprofit, will build and operate the telescope.