Over 100 Native Hawaiians Protest Telescope Construction on Sacred Volcano

Over a hundred protesters have gathered on the volcano Haleakala in the Hawaiian island of Maui since Tuesday in an effort to stop a solar telescope from being built on the volcano considered to be sacred by some Native Hawaiians.

On early Wednesday, two women and four men from the group were arrested by local authorities following their attempt to block a truck convoy carrying parts for the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope from reaching the summit of the mountain.

Maui police later revealed that one of those arrested was rushed to an emergency room for evaluation before being released back to police custody, reports NBC

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Protesters have long expressed opposition toward the project as they claim the telescope will desecrate the sacred land. Couple Mahealani Ahia and Kahala Johnson said they flew from Honolulu to Maui to join the protesters in protecting Haleakala from the solar telescope.

In a statement, officials of the telescope project said that the four-meter mirror system carried by the convoy has been secured and delivered properly despite the protests.

“The project made concerted efforts to identify and mitigate cultural and environmental impacts associated with the construction of what will be the world’s most powerful solar telescope,” the statement said.

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“Like those who protest our facility, we too respect and value our planet, broader universe, and our shared origins.”

Telescope officials also noted that the construction of the $340-million solar telescope is set to be completed by 2020.

Another telescope being constructed on another Hawaiin mountain, however, has stalled due to protests lead by Native Hawaiian and environmental groups. The $1.4-billion Thirty Meter Telescope which was planned to be constructed on Mauna Kea has also been stopped by a Supreme Court ruling that invalidated its building permit.

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