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Hundreds of activists outside of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii have caused the 13 observatories on the mountain to cease operations, according to Nature.
Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii that is highly sacred to Native Hawaiians, and is an integral part of Hawaiian traditions. It also happens to be an ideal site for astronomy.
Years - Delays - Complications - Protests - Hawaii
After four years of delays caused by both legal complications and peaceful protests, the Hawaii supreme court ruled that the TMT construction permit was valid and work on the observatory was scheduled to resume this past week (July 15). But before construction resumed, protesters flocked to the site to peacefully oppose the construction with songs, signs and speakers.
"It is without a doubt one of our most sacred places in all of Hawaii," protest leader Kaho'okahi Kanuha told CNN. "We are taking a stand not only to protect our mauna and aina, our land, who we have a genealogical connection to … We are fighting to protect it because we know if we cannot stop this, there is not very much we can fight for or protect … This is our last stand," he said.
July - Police - Elders - Kupuna - Custody
On July 17, police took 33 Native Hawaiian elders, known as kupuna, into custody and released them shortly thereafter. Despite ongoing opposition, astronomers at existing observatories on the volcano, as well as those awaiting construction of the TMT, hope to come to an agreement that respects the concerns of the protesters.
"I know Mauna Kea is a sanctuary for Hawaiians, so I hope [for] a peaceful settlement for both sides as quickly as possible," Mihoko Konishi, an astronomer at Oita University in Japan who had planned to use the Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea this past week, said, according to a statement....
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