President William J. Clinton
The White House
The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) has been recognized since 1977, as a category II Non-governmental Organization (NGO) with consultative status, by the United Nations. The this capacity, the IITC is concerned with the observance of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples throughout the Americas and Pacific Islands, including the United States.
The IITC is profoundly concerned about the arrest of Mr. Pu'uhonua Kanahele, Head of State of the Independent Nation of Hawai`i, who was arrested Wednesday afternoon, August 2, by Federal agents in Honolulu. We are informed that he is being held without bail, and that a bond in the amount of $250,000 is required for his release pending the disposition of the charges.
He apparently has been charged with hindering prosecution and harboring a fugitive, stemming from incidents in early 1994 when Nathan Keliikui Brown, a Hawaiian national and at that time Deputy Head of State of the Hawaii Government, was being sought also by federal authorities.
Our concern stems from the fact that this arrest was delayed for over a year by federal authorities. His arrest at this late date can only be described as selective prosecution, timed to coincide with the growing momentum for Hawaiian Sovereignty. Head of State Kanahele has been in Hawai`i since early 1994, amenable to a peaceful resolution of any complaint the United States might have had with him. Why did it take federal authorities over a year to raise these charges?
We are also concerned that he has not been allowed reasonable bail to secure his release, pending resolution of these charges. Bail or bond, these amounts are only intended to secure the appearance of any defendant or to protect the community from violent criminals. Mr. Kanahele is committed to the Nation of Hawai'i, morally as well as physically, and has been working for Hawaiian self determination in the non-violent tradition of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi. As the United States is well aware, Mr. Kanahele would not leave Hawai'i under any circumstances, including the threat of arrest or imprisonment.
The United States is also aware that a bond of $250,000 is impossible for the historically impoverished Hawai`ian Peoples to meet. We must believe that under these circumstances, Head of State Dennis Kanahele was arrested and is now being held in retaliation for his avowed support and work on behalf of Hawai`ian self determination.
We must remind the United States that the United Nations Charter and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights provide that all Peoples have the right to self determination and the right to freely determine their political status; and that everyone has the right to hold opinions and to freely express them. The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution provides for similar rights of speech, association, and opinion.
The United States government has already apologized for the theft of Hawai`i, and has again recognized, by authorizing the Hawaiian Sovereignty Commission, that even now, Hawai`i may choose for itself self determination. It would be tragic indeed, if by this arrest and prosecution, the United States would again be required to admit of another crime and offer a similar apology. As in the case of the Nation of Hawai`i, justice delayed is justice denied.
The IITC strongly feels that these human rights concerns are well founded and would urge the government of the United States to reconsider its actions in this light. We would urge the United States Government to immediately release Mr. Kanahele, and open a dialogue with the Indigenous Hawaiian Peoples who are the most severely affected by this arrest, with the view of establishing peaceful relations between Peoples, as is the obligation of the United States, under the United Nations Charter.
Mr. Kanahele's immediate release would also be consistent with the U.S. human rights obligations and the fundamental human rights and freedoms of all Indigenous Peoples.
We look forward to your immediate response.
General Counsel, IITC
Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher
U.S. Department of State
Attorney General Janet Reno
U.S. Department of Justice
Human Rights Watch/Americas
International Commission of Jurists
International Service for Human Rights
Nordic Sami Council
Attn: Mr. Jhon B. Henriksen
League International Pour Les Droits, etc.
United Nations Centre for Human Rights
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