Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 22, 2004

Peace rally targets war in Iraq, Patriot Act

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

The war in Iraq, the military presence in Hawai'i, the Patriot Act and the treatment of immigrants were among the topics up for debate and perusal yesterday during an anti-war event at Ala Moana Beach Park.

Members of the Peace Boat shared their message of peace at yesterday's rally. The boat, which left Tokyo on Christmas, arrived in Hawai'i yesterday after stops in such places as the Philippines, Singapore, Kenya, Argentina and Tahiti.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

Nearly 1,000 people came and went throughout the day, organizers said, and by about 5 p.m., McCoy Pavilion was packed with more than 500 of them. About 50 passengers of the Peace Boat, a ship of performers and artists that has been making international voyages for peace since 1983, also attended.

Films on U.S. wars in the Middle East and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians wrapped up, as did panel discussions on "The Militarization of Hawaii," "The War in Iraq" and "Attacks on Civil Liberties."

Carolyn Hadfield of the activist group Not In Our Name said the event, which included a concert, was a low-key observation of the first anniversary of the war in Iraq, and meant to attract those who are new to the peace movement as well as those who have been around since earlier conflicts.

"I think some of the confusion is passing," Hadfield said. "At first, I think people thought that maybe we'd get out of Iraq quickly, and maybe we would make things better for the Iraqi people. Now I think they're seeing that is not the case."

More military veterans speaking out against the war seems to be fueling the peace movement, she said, and a booth organizing protesters for the Republican National Convention in New York at the end of August was attracting attention.

Akiko Takakuwa of Hokkaido, Japan, and Joohee Lee of Seoul, South Korea, were among the Peace Boat passengers at yesterday's rally.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

Behind Hadfield, Gwen Abella, a 60-year-old Honolulu resident, stopped to scrawl a message on a banner labeled, "Stop the War-Time Police State."

"I just don't like people invading my freedom," Abella said. "And I like to speak freely."

The message she added to the banner was: "The Patriot Act Stinks."

Nearby, the American Immigration Lawyers Association had posted a sign saying that more than 2,310 immigrants had been detained under the Bush administration, and Tia Roberts of the ACLU handed out pamphlets called, "Know Your Rights: What to do if questioned by the Police, FBI, Customs Agents or Immigration Officers."

Elementary school teacher Catherine Caine said she and her husband, Tom Eisen, brought their 8-year-old son, Aaron Eisen, to expose him to the ideas of the peace movement.

They were examining a banner-in-progress titled: "101 Things to do for Peace." Suggestions added by participants included prayer, impeaching the president, vegetarianism and surfing.

Jeffrey Krepps, a supervisor in a program for autistic children, was adding his suggestion that people stop watching Fox News, which he described as the most blatantly unfair and unbalanced of the corporate-owned media.

While he talked, his companion wrote a suggestion that people stop watching television altogether, a thought that seemed to make Krepps a little nervous.

"She wants to get rid of the whole thing?" he said.

Aaron Eisen, who will celebrate his ninth birthday next month, said he thought he knew something people could do for peace.

"Don't get into small fights," he said. "They grow and grow and grow."

Reach Karen Blakeman at 535-2430 or kblakeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.