Christina Rose
Dr. Keanu Sai speaks to students at Central Connecticut State University about the process of restoring Hawai’i’s sovereignty.

Hawaiian Sovereignty Moves Forward in International Courts

Christina Rose

The mission to take back the Hawaiian Kingdom after more than 100 years of United States occupation is a matter of exposing war crimes and seeking compliance through international venues, said Dr. Keanu Sai, political scientist and acting-ambassador for Hawai‘i. “This isn’t a matter of America doing the right thing. America will be forced to comply,” he said.

For more than 100 years, the United States has unlawfully occupied Hawai’i, forcing Americanization upon Hawaiian citizens. These are considered war crimes under international law, the same war crimes Germany was prosecuted for in the trials at Nuremberg in 1945.

In June, the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law will determine whether or not Hawai’i will be listed as an occupied state in the “War Report.”

In a short university tour along the northeast coast, Sai detailed the plan to end the illegal and prolonged American occupation of Hawai’i. His presentation of the Americanization of Hawai’i will be a familiar saga to North American tribes that also endured language and cultural suppression. “Under international law, this crime attempts to denationalize the inhabitants of an occupied state,” Sai said.

Before Americanization, Hawai’i was recognized as a sovereign state by countries around the world, where Hawai’i maintained over 90 embassies and consulates. The increase of Hawai’i’s population from 1890 to 1950, which grew from 89,000 to 499,000 is “what happens when you occupy a country,” Sai said, citing Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, which states an occupier may not transfer parts of its own civilian population into territory it occupies.

Taking back Hawai’i is a multi-faceted process. The education of the people in Hawai’i is an important step and Sai has been spreading the word internationally and at home. The University of Hawai’i is becoming a think tank where graduate students research the past as well as plan the next steps in Hawai’i’s future.


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