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Students Occupy Univ. of Hawaii Building to Protest Construction of Military Center

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A group of students at the University of Hawaii have been occupying the administration building to protest the construction of a Navy Military Research Center on their campus. We speak with one of the students occupying the building. [includes rush transcript]

Since last Thursday, a group of students at the University of Hawaii have been occupying the administration building to protest the building of a Navy Military Research Center on their campus. This is the same campus where the deadly chemical–Agent Orange–was developed in the Sixties, using classified military research similar to what is being proposed.

  • Ikaika Hussey, Political Science Graduate Student at University of Hawaii.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We are joined on the phone now by Ikaika Hussey, one of the students who is currently occupying at University of Hawaii. Welcome to Democracy Now!

IKAIKA HUSSEY: Thank you very much. Aloha.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what you’re doing right now, as Daniel Ellsberg is listening in?

IKAIKA HUSSEY: Well, right now, actually, we’re all sleeping, except for me. But we’re engaged in a civil disobedience action. We’ve occupied Bachman Hall, which we’ve called Bachman Hall Demilitarized Zone for the last five days. And we will continue to do so until the administration decides to stop the creation of this classified Military Research Center.

AMY GOODMAN: And what exactly would this do, and the history of the Agent Orange on your campus?

IKAIKA HUSSEY: Well, Agent Orange is a real blight on the history of our university and on Hawaii. It led to untold destruction in Southeast Asia. Also, of course, the U.S veterans who have been affected by it. And also even here in Hawaii there are areas which are still defoliated and contaminated by Agent Orange. There are also researchers involved in the creation of Agent Orange who — they were just employees of the State University, they didn’t know what they were being exposed to, and they have since died from exposure to Agent Orange. And so, it’s a real sore point in the history of the University of Hawaii, and it’s something that we keep in mind when the university talks about more military research.

AMY GOODMAN: And the building of the Navy Military Research Center, what would it do on campus?

IKAIKA HUSSEY: It would be tied into the existing large military infrastructure in Hawaii. Hawaii is one of the most militarized places in the United States and it has been since the invasion of Hawaii by U.S. military forces in 1893. Right now the island of Oahu, which is the most urban island, it’s 25% controlled by the military. There’s about 20% of all of Hawaii, all the eight major islands, which is controlled by the military. And what happened with this Military Research Facility is it would tie into the existing military installations and also civilian installations, which would then be able to be used for classified purposes. From all the points in the island chain, it would tie into Star Wars ballistic missile defense work that’s being done here at the Pacific Missile Range Facility. It would tie into underwater kind of work with sea mines and so forth. And most importantly it would make Hawaii a part of the American war machine, which is not something that we want.

AMY GOODMAN: Daniel Ellsberg, as you listen to this political science graduate student at the University of Hawaii, occupying the administration offices, your final comment from your history?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Well, everyone has to sleep regularly, and I’m glad that those students are sleeping where they are, obstructing by their bodies a process that shouldn’t be going on at all. I don’t think we’ll ever be out of Iraq. We will not avoid the war in Iran. We will not change our relations to dictatorial tyrannist governments as in the Sudan without the kinds of opposition that we saw in the Vietnam War against the Vietnam War, consciencious, truthful, nonviolent civil disobedience. And that is more than symbolic. People actually showing that they’re willing to do everything they can, nonviolently and truthfully, to bring these processes to the attention of the fellow voters, but also to stop them, to obstruct them. And that can have a great personal cost as Mordechai Vanunu found, has suffered. And it can be very worthwhile. It can save very many lives. So I want to say my appreciation to the people in Hawaii and hope that they’ll have — inspire much similar activity over here.

AMY GOODMAN: Daniel Ellsberg, I want to thank you for being with us, as well as Ikaika Hussey, speaking to us from the University of Hawaii. And a shout out to our listeners and viewers in Hawaii. Democracy Now! airs in Hawaii on KKCR Community Radio and community TV stations, AKAKU and Olelo.

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