An international group of progressive activists, including American linguist Noam Chomsky and philosopher Cornel West, are calling for the immediate closure of the Navy’s Red Hill fuel facility and “full reparations for its victims.”

The group, Progressives International, issued a statement on Tuesday in response to the Navy’s water contamination crisis which has affected nearly 100,000 people and has sickened an unknown number. Their message comes as the Hawaii Department of Health orders the Navy to drain its World War II-era fuel facility – a demand the Navy has been resisting.

Local activists seeking to shut down Red Hill are gaining allies across the world. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

“At this very moment, the US government is committing a crime of historic proportions against the people of Hawai’i,” the group said. “Yet the US Navy continues to reject calls by residents and the state government to drain the remaining tanks. The health of hundreds of thousands across Oʻahu is now in jeopardy.”

The letter draws parallels between the Red Hill crisis and the military’s impacts on other places in the Pacific.

It cites “the Tomb” on Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands, “a nuclear coffin” installed by the U.S. military that is leaking radioactive waste into the ocean and the thousands of Micronesians who still suffer the impacts of 67 atomic and thermonuclear weapons the U.S. military detonated in the Marshall Islands in the 1940s and 50s.

In the statement, the activists point to the U.S. military’s expansion in the Northern Mariana Islands, where it has been planning to use land currently occupied by the Indigenous Chamorro people for “bombing range sacrifice zones.” And in Guam, the statement’s authors note the U.S. Marine Corps is razing a limestone forest to build a new firing range.

“We stand in solidarity with the Kānaka Maoli and all Indigenous peoples of the Pacific in their struggle for liberation — free from the toxins, bombs, and bases of their oppressors. Right now, our demand is simple: Shut down Red Hill. Drain the tanks. And repair what they have destroyed.”

The letter is signed by left-wing leaders from across the world, including Jeremy Corbyn, the former head of the British Labour Party; Canadian author Naomi Klein; Julian Aguon, a human rights lawyer and University of Hawaii lecturer from Guam; former Ecuadorian presidential candidate Andrés Arauz; Nigerian environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey; Aruna Roy, president of the National Federation of Indian Women; and former Australian senator Scott Ludlam.

Support nonprofit, independent journalism.

During this election season, we hope that our coverage provides you with the information to make informed decisions on issues that you care deeply about.

Whether it’s affordable housing, education or the environment, these issues depend on your vote, and our ability to report on them depends on your support.

Every contribution, however big or small, allows us to continue keeping readers informed through election day and beyond. So, if you found value in our coverage, please take the next step by making a contribution to Civil Beat today.

About the Author