Letters: Acquisitive prescription, armed revolution & those bigoted and heartless few

My earlier letter to the Maui News regarding the filing of individual land claims at the ICJ, and that fact that only countries may submit cases and be parties before the Court, and only with the consent of all parties involved, elicited this response last week from Carl Holmberg, arguing that:
But even if Hawaii were illegally annexed, an established principle of international law – the doctrine of acquisitive prescription – would render the point moot. This means Hawaii's long acquiescence as a territory and state removes any legal defects in the United States' claim of sovereignty.

I'm planning to submit a response to him, but I would encourage folks to read the Continuity of the Hawaiian Kingdom (PDF) brief by Dr. Matthew Craven in which he examines acquisitive prescription (in section 5.4), citing the Chamizal Arbitration case as precedent that "protesting in any way that might be ‘reasonably required’ should effectively defeat a claim of prescription," and that the protests and lack of acquiescence to annexation at least "raises the question whether a claim of acquisitive prescription may be sustained."

Meanwhile, Paul B. Petersen has a letter today responding to Holmberg, which says:
The June 29 writer who asserts that too much time has passed since the 1898 annexation for any legal argument under international law to hold water must understand that his conclusion leaves sovereignty proponents with only one final choice – armed revolution.

John F. Kennedy, when reflecting on and recognizing his failure in the botched Bay of Pigs invasion said: "Those people who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable."

Based on the premise that Hawaii is occupied, an argument can be made that Hawaiian nationals have a legitimate, legal right to armed resistance (which would not actually be "revolutionary" in nature). However, it is important to note that, despite this right, for both moral and practical reasons no major sovereignty proponents have ever advocated armed resistance, and have instead followed the path of nonviolent resistance in the spirit of Gandhi. Let's hope it stays that way.

Pauahi Bogac also has a letter responding to Holmberg with some historical facts.

I am glad that my letter has stimulated some discussion and debate on this issue! Especially around this time when we Americans reflect on the meaning of freedom and independence. Regardless of whether or not one agrees with my perspective, I hope that everyone agrees that being able to discuss and debate it openly is healthy. Better than armed resistance.

Then there is also this Maui News letter today:
Hawaiians-at-heart understand wrongs done Native Hawaiians

It is amusing to see letters from non-Hawaiians – some kamaaina, but mainly malihini – ranting about Hawaiian sovereignty.

The "facts" are that the Hawaii kingdom was overthrown at gunpoint, and illegally annexed, by powerful aristocrats with the backing of the U.S. government. The subsequent vote for statehood merely formalized what was already taking place – exploitation, speculation and greed by the aristocrats' latter day copycats.

Now we hear from the Johnny-come-lately speculators and those who have moved to our community from the Mainland spouting anti-Hawaiian nonsense just like their forebearers. No, you are not a Hawaiian just because you live here. No, you are not a Hawaiian just because you were born here. If you are not of Hawaiian blood, you are either malihini or kamaaina, but you are not Hawaiian – and you never will be.

You can, however, be Hawaiian-at-heart and that is what is missing from all of you who believe that the Hawaiians should "just get over it." The Native Americans tried to "just get over it" and they were trampled almost to the point of extinction. The African-Americans tried to "just get over it" and they were trampled almost to the point of becoming separate-but-equal second-class citizens.

If the monarchy were still in power, I would be a loyalist. But, since it isn't, I will speak against those bigoted and heartless few who would deny Hawaiians the rights to their land and their right to exist as a people. Auwe!

Bill Harding

I would just point out that the term Hawaiian can also mean Hawaiian kingdom citizen/national, and that the wrong was done to this population, which includes but is broader than just Native Hawaiians.

Posted: Mon - July 3, 2006 at 03:44 PM    
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Published On: Jul 03, 2006 04:38 PM
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