Hawaiians protest construction of telescope on sacred ground
Native Hawaiians are protesting the planned construction of a 30-metre telescope on Mauna Kea. Demonstrations on the site began March 30th when activists formed a roadblock around the Mauna Kea visitors’ centre to stop the $1.4 billion dollar project. Protesters, calling themselves the Protectors of Mauna Kea, believe the site is the "most sacred" land on all of the islands, but the telescope's developer and the University of Hawaii contend the land is owned by the state.
A few days after several protesters were arrested, the governor issued a halt on construction for a period of one week. Those opposing the project say they are not against science, but argue the location of the telescope will desecrate holy land. Across the globe, supporters took to social media to show solidarity for the protesters: The protests have prompted at least one scientist to think more critically about the impact of her work on indigenous lands. Critics of the protests maintain the project is for scientific purposes only.This is not the first time Native Hawaiians have taken action to stop the building of telescopes on Mauna Kea. In 2006, NASA terminated funding on the Outrigger Telescope Project after a judge overruled a permit for several telescopes planned for the site. A change.org petition created to immediately halt both construction and arrests has more than 34,000 supporters.