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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 5, 2006

Three sovereignty groups claim U.S. abuses

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

Three Hawaiian sovereignty groups are calling for the United Nations to demand that the United States respond to allegations of human rights violations against Native Hawaiians that the groups have detailed in a report.

They also took the opportunity to slam the Akaka bill even as supporters of the measure, which seeks to create a federally recognized government entity, rally for it to be heard in the U.S. Senate.

The report was submitted earlier this year to the U.N.'s Human Rights Committee by Mililani Trask, convenor of Na Koa Ikaika O Ka Lahui Hawai'i, Kai'opua Fife of the Koani Foundation and Kekuni Blaisdell, chairman of the Kanaka Maoli Tribunal Komike.

The groups are seeking the removal of the U.S. government from the Hawaiian Islands.

Trask, Fife and Blaisdell appeared at a news conference yesterday in front of 'Iolani Palace, where Queen Liliu'okalani was overthrown in 1893 by businessmen with the backing of U.S. troops.

Trask said the report she drafted was in response to a 2005 submittal to the U.N. by the Bush administration in which it claimed the U.S. was in compliance with its human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a human rights treaty.

The U.S. has been in violation of the treaty by failing to provide Native Hawaiians their right to self-determination and stealing their lands, Trask said. "The United States has failed to provide justice and the right of self-determination to the Native Hawaiian peoples." Trask noted that former President Bill Clinton, in 1993, signed the Apology Bill that acknowledges the U.S. role in the overthrow and subsequent injustices.

"There, in fact, has not been any justice or redress," she said.

The goal of the report is "to shame the United States for its theft of our nation, theft of our government, the taking of our land," Blaisdell said.

The report is one of thousands alleging human rights violations by the U.S. that will be taken up by the Human Rights Committee in Geneva in July, Fife said.

Fife said the Akaka bill would not go far enough in addressing the concerns of Native Hawaiians. The bill is stalled in the U.S. Senate.

"Because the Hawaiian peoples never directly relinquished their claims to their lands, the differences between the USA and Hawai'i can only be settled under international law," Fife said. "The Akaka bill, a domestic law if enacted by the U.S., could not apply."

Said Trask: "I think we all admit that this Akaka bill is nothing more than a failure. It's going nowhere, and frankly, it doesn't address any of the issues in the apology. It doesn't address any of the needs here, whether housing, education or employment. The (Akaka) bill is simply too little, too late. We really need to look for redress somewhere else."

Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com.