Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice traces its genealogy to the Quaker witness for peace and social justice in Hawaiʻi that began with the Hawaii Friends Service Committee. From 1941to 1945, the Hawaii Friends Service Committee assisted persons of Japanese ancestry who were negatively affected by the anti-Japanese backlash during World War II.
The the American Friends Service Committee Hawaiʻi Area Program began in 1968 during the height of the Vietnam War to protest the war and support conscientious objectors to the war. This active and practical expression of the Quaker Peace Testimony in Hawaiʻi took root in the rich soil of Hawaiʻi’s social and cultural environment, with its foundation of Kanaka Maoli cultural values and other diverse and vibrant cultural, spiritual and activist traditions. In 2010, a decision was made that the Hawaiʻi Area Program would evolve into an independent local organization.
On October 1, 2011, the American Friends Service Committee Hawaiʻi Area Program completes its formal transformation into Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice – Na Pua Hoʻāla i ka Pono. Drawing on core values shared by the Religious Society of Friends, Kanaka Maoli and other cultural traditions in Hawai‘i we assert the transformational power of love and nonviolence as we work for justice and peace. We strive to live with integrity and to speak truth to power. We support one another in courageous actions that seek to confront unjust institutions and create a more just, humane, peaceful and sustainable world. We will be a voice for peace, against war, war preparations and war-causing actions. We oppose structural violence implicit in disparities of wealth and income, in discrimination and in other oppressive relationships between people.
We recognize our kuleana (responsibility) to speak to the historical and social context where we live and work. Once an independent, modern and cosmopolitan nation with a thriving native people, Hawaiʻi was invaded and occupied by the United States primarily for military and economic reasons, to expand U.S. power over the Asia-Pacific region. This has resulted in serious negative impacts locally including the loss of political sovereignty, the alienation of Native Hawaiians from their ancestral lands that resulted in their social and cultural devastation, and widespread environmental damage. Furthermore, the militarization of Hawaiʻi has had far-reaching global consequences – endless wars, militarization and the spread of exploitative and ecologically destructive economic forces. Since Hawai‘i is the site of the oldest and largest unified military command in the world that dominates more than half surface of the earth and a majority of the world’s population, what impacts we make in reducing militarization locally can have global impacts. Therefore, Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice – Na Pua Hoʻāla i ka Pono works to foster conditions for true peace by addressing both the local impacts and global consequences of the military presence in Hawaiʻi.
In 1976, the Hawaiʻi Program staff participated in the first boat expedition to protect the sacred Kahoʻolawe Island from U.S. Navy bombardment and has supported the efforts of the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana to stop the bombing. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed an executive order stopping the bombing of Kahoʻolawe. The island has been partially cleaned and transferred to the state of Hawai’i as a cultural reserve in trust until a Hawaiian nation is formed.
The Hawai’i Program has worked with groups such as Malama Makua to organize community support for the cleanup and return of Makua valley from the military. Due to a coordinated legal, political and cultural strategy, the Army has not used Makua for live fire training in more than seven years. The Army has said that it has no plans to continue live fire training in Makua. Regular cultural access have allowed thousands to visit and participate in the healing of the land. The restored Makahiki ceremonies are now in their 11th year.
In 2003, the Hawai’i Program helped to organize community opposition to Marine Corps training in Waikane valley, on lands that had been condemned from the Kamaka family due to unexploded munitions left there by the military. The Marines cancelled these plans and have begun the cleanup of the munitions.
The Hawaiʻi Program conducted a series of educational forums on Hawaiian Sovereignty. One outcome was the publication of the anthology He Alo A He Alo: Voices on Hawaiian Sovereignty and Resistance in Paradise.
The Hawai’i Gay Liberation Program’s work with the Hawaii Safe Schools Coalition resulted in new statewide anti-harassment policies that provided more safety for LGBTQ students to organize their own clubs on campus without fear of harassment or discrimination.
Our Rainbow Revolutionaries youth project organized the first LGBTQ prom in Hawai’i, the first LGBTQ youth leadership retreat and the first Gay Straight Alliance Summit and has helped to develop a number of dynamic young leaders and activists.
The CHOICES project won changes in the Hawai’i Department of Education opt out procedures for the No Child Left Behind military recruitment list, which resulted in an increase in the number of students who requested to withhold their personal information from military recruiters from 1,913 in 2005/06 to 21,836 in 2006/07.
The Hawai’i Program got the Department of Education to prevent public schools from releasing test results and information of students who take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test to military recruiters without their explicit informed prior consent.
New Shoots: Our Program Work