East Hawaii News

Protesters Take a Stand at Astronomy Conference on Oahu

August 6, 2015, 8:45 AM HST
* Updated August 6, 10:05 AM
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Protesters gathered outside of a large astronomy conference on Oahu this week in light of the ongoing Thirty Meter Telescope controversrey.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) will be holding its triennial 2015 General Assembly from Aug. 3–14 in Honolulu, bringing with it 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries.

This is the first time the event is being held in Hawaii and it came at a time when telescopes are being challenged by some Hawaii residents.

The conference started this past Monday, just a few days after residents on Maui and the Big Island were arrested for protesting further development on two Hawaiian mountains.

About 20 people were arrested on Maui while trying to block telescope construction crews from ascending Haleakala, and on Friday several individuals were arrested on Mauna Kea as part of the ongoing TMT protest.

The two mountains are considered sacred in Hawaiian culture.

News outlets showed demonstrators of that ilk on Oahu Monday carrying Hawaiian flags and holding signs that said “Protect Mauna Kea and Haleakala.”

The demonstration caught the attention of IAU representatives.

Piero Benvenuti, IAU deputy general secretary,  made the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

“The International Astronomical Union is honored to be hosting its 2015 General Assembly in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.  The IAU is deeply respectful of the views shared by the protestors at their press conference yesterday. We understand that the issues regarding Maunakea are sensitive and complex, and hope that our participants take advantage of opportunities to informally learn and engage with these issues throughout the conference. It is our hope that by engaging in open dialogue, this will encourage a collaborative, positive vision for the future of Maunakea.”

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