Hawaii politician stops voting, claiming islands are occupied sovereign country   US news

Hawaii politician stops voting, claiming islands are occupied sovereign country US news


Hawaii politician stops voting, claiming islands are occupied sovereign country US news Jennifer Ruggles, a county councilwoman for two years, says working as a US agent could leave her open to war crimes charges Jennifer Ruggles, a county councilwoman for two years, says working as a US agent could leave her open to war crimes charges A Hawaii politician has refused to attend months of meetings because she believes Hawaii may not actually be a part of the US. Jennifer Ruggles has served two years as the Hawaii county councilwoman for the district of Puna ñ the same part of the Big Island that was devastated by the eruption of the Kilauea volcano earlier this year. On 21 August, Ruggles caused a stir at a routine committee meeting when she announced she was concerned that Hawaii was not a part of the US, but instead an occupied foreign country. ìWhat Iím asking challenges the foundation of everything that we believe to be true in Hawaii,î Ruggles told the Guardian. A lifetime Puna resident and progressive local politician who normally focuses on issues including taxation, infrastructure, and the environment, Ruggles said she came to this conclusion after reading a memo penned by an independent expert at the United Nations and believed the claims of the often-ignored Hawaiian sovereignty movement. She hasnít voted in a council or committee meeting since, and as a result has not been allowed to attend meetings. It has led to an outcry from Hawaii residents who say sheís shirking her responsibilities. The claim that Hawaii is still a part of the Hawaiian Kingdom (not the US) is not new. In fact, itís a sticky political situation that has led to court cases and provided talking points to more than one US president. But public conversations on the topic still have the air of a conspiracy theory, because the idea runs so counter to the day-to-day administrative and governmental operations in Hawaii. As such, the subject tends to be avoided by Hawaii politicians. The tropical island chain, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 2,467 miles from the continental US, became a state in 1959. And for most people, thatís more than enough evidence that itís part of the US. Ruggles told the Guardian that she had heard Hawaiian sovereignty arguments for years, but had never taken the time to research the claims in detail. Then, in June, an email caught her attention. It contained a February 2018 memo on letterhead from the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. It seemed unusual: support for the idea of Hawaiian sovereignty from an internationally respected third party. ì[T]he Hawaiian Islands Ö [make up a] nation state that is under a strange form of occupation by the United States resulting from an illegal military occupation and a fraudulent annexationî Dr Alfred M deZayas, who reported to the UNís human rights council, wrote. He went on to say that international law stated that under these circumstances, Hawaiian Kingdom law should be carried out in Hawaii ñ not US law. After researching the matter, Ruggles concluded that DeZayas was right ñ that Hawaii was never legally annexed by the United States. And once she saw that, she said, she couldnít un-see the ramifications. ìI didnít understand international law [before] … or how foreign annexation actually works,î she said. ìOnce you understand Ö that, then it becomes clear that thereís a big discrepancy.î She became concerned that she would be breaking international law by participating on the city council as an agent of the US government ñ something that could hypothetically leave her open to international war crimes charges. ìI would like to be clear that this action on my part should not be construed as a publicity stunt but rather on the advice of counsel,î she told colleagues. Yet in the context of her local committee meeting, her concerns were dismissed. ìI would urge you to just ignore that [email],î a fellow council member, Aaron Chung, told her. ìIt was uncomfortable. The look on some peopleís faces Ö was horrified,î Ruggles said. ìItís a question that is really challenging the status quo and a lot of people shy away from that. Not a lot of people are up for the consequences, I have been experiencing a lot of retaliation.î The countyís legal adviser, Joseph Kamelamela, has been dismissive of Rugglesí concerns and the memo. ìWhatever they claim Ö has no basis, has no merit,î he said in the meeting. ìIíve taken [that] position and even my predecessors have taken [that] position Ö All we do is file it away because thereís nothing valid.î Kamelamela declined to comment further and said he stood by his comments in the meeting. The office of the Hawaii governor, David Ige, and the US Department of State both declined to comment on the memo and Ruggleís concerns. Yet as far back as 1893, President Grover Cleveland called the deposition of the Hawaiian queen and her government ìan act of war committed Ö without the authority of Congressî. One hundred years later, Bill Clinton signed the so-called ìapology billî, which laid out the events that led to Hawaii statehood. Among those events was the formation of a provisional government ìwithout the consent of the Native Hawaiian people or the lawful Government of Hawaii and in violation of treaties between the two nations and of international lawî. As Keanu Sai, a political science lecturer at the University of Hawaii and member of the Hawaiian Kingdom provisional government puts it, the unilateral annexation of Hawaii by passing a law was tantamount to the US passing a law annexing the UK or any other country. ìYou canít pass a law annexing a foreign country,î he said. In an email, a spokesman for the office of the commissioner for human rights disavowed DeZayasís memo, saying it did not represent the opinion of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights. ìThey are his own views and as such they should not have been sent out using our letterhead,î they wrote. DeZayas, who has now finished his term as the investigator and serves as a law professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and an international lecturer, said he wrote the memo because his job as the independent expert was to promote democracy, equality and ìthe right of self-determination of peoples (as) an effective conflict-prevention strategy.î Hawaii is ìformally part of the US,î DeZayas said, but he feels that itís important for people to understand how it got that way. As for Ruggles, her term ends Monday. While she will no longer be a local representative, she will continue to try to bring attention to what she sees as international law violations in Hawaii. She said she plans to meet with representatives from nonprofits like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Committee of the Red Cross. ìAnd I am going to request that they appoint a special rapporteur,î Ruggles said, ìto start documenting human rights violations happening in Hawaii.î

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