The Thirty Meter Telescope facility planned atop Mauna Kea might be staring at a protest that could snowball into an international issue. 10 days ago, when construction had begun for the facility, a small group of activists had started a protest against it with the intention to block the development of the facility at Mauna Kea.
The main grouse of the activists is that the $1.3 Billion project may have been approved without first properly obtaining the land approvals. They also contend that the native Hawaiian groups were not consulted before the decision to construct the telescope was taken. This is a serious matter for the native Hawaiians as they consider the mountain sacred. It is but a curious incident that science and spirituality have clashed against each other in a very peculiar way.
Scientists hope to see 13 billion light years away, in order to understand the truth of the initial original creation. On the other hand, the Hawaiian natives consider the mountain site sacred as it is considered as the cradle of their creation. Yet, this site is crucial for scientists as it is an ideal location that can ensure undisturbed transmission/reception of signals because of its remote and sheltered position.
However, after arrests were made yesterday, when at least 30 protesters were arrested for blocking the road to the project site, this protest has acquired national colors. Organizers claimed that as many as 300 people had come in for the protest. The protest is also attracting native Hawaiian leaders who had hitherto stayed away.
It must be made clear here, however, that the opposition is not against the telescope itself or the scientific endeavor that propels it, but it is rather against the choice of the site for construction of the project. Because of the sacred character of the mountains, all the highest points in the range are considered homes of different deities followed by the Hawaiians.
“It is the burial grounds of some of our most sacred and revered ancestors,” said Kealoha Pisciotta, a project opponent. “It is a place where we go for sanctuary and release from the world around us, and it is also the home of our god.”
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