Local authorities are considering a more traditional form of mediation to persuade protesters gathered at the Mauna Kea visitors center, in Hawaii, to stop a 104-day protest against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the summit of the dormant volcano.
Three attorneys requested from a court that negotiations with protesters should involve hooponopono rather than a lawsuit. Hooponopono is a purely Hawaiian type of mediation based on prayer and discussion used mostly by families when they try to settle differences.
The Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth said that he would back the proposal. He also said that he would discuss with the protester’s attorneys the proper way of embedding the traditional form of mediation into a criminal case against the protesters who want to protect their sacred mountain from desecration.
A couple of months ago, about 30 protesters were taken under custody because they tried to hinder access of telescope workers to the mountain’s summit where the $1.4 billion telescope is slated to be built. Days later Roth dismissed charges on 10 protesters.
He now agrees to use hooponopono on the remaining 21 people arrested because of obstructing. Nevertheless, some of them would rather face a real trial, while hooponopono is not considered to be used on a dozen of protesters that had been arrested last month.
“It may not be pure hooponopono. It may be something culturally based between hooponopono and mediation,”
Roth’s office disclosed yesterday.
The office also announced that they were open to any suggestion as long as the conflict gets solved.
The proponents of the mediation form were asked to return to Roth’s office in a couple of weeks with more details on how they plan to integrate hooponopono in a criminal case. Roth hopes that other participants would take part in the process including the group that tries to build the telescope, the attorney general, the group that manages stewardship of Mauna Kea and many more. Although, Roth is in talks with state officials, the state did not expressed willingness in taking part in hooponopono.
Native Hawaiian culture experts explained that the mediation technique is routinely used in courts in custody disputes. It was also used nine years ago to mediate between several Hawaiian groups and a state-run museum in a artifact-related dispute.
University of Hawaii scholars explained that the process is very much the same like trying to untangle knots. So, both parties need to be willing to admit wrongs and forgive. Additionally, in hooponopono prayer is a key element regardless of the participants’ religion because the mediation technique involves an inherent “sacred element.”
Image Source: The Seattle Times