by Andrew Walden
The so-called “Hawaiian Kingdom Government” made international headlines last week with its takeover of Iolani Palace. But headlines are not the only outside support the Hawaiian Kingdom Government group is receiving. In a February 28, 2008 letter, Honorary Vice-Consul of Italy in Hawaii, Carmen Di Amore-Siah, purports to grant the Hawaii Kingdom Government group recognition by the Government of Italy.
In the letter addressed to Hawaii Kingdom Government and stamped “Italian Consulate” Di Amore-Siah writes:
“This office on behalf of the Italian Government in Hawaii acknowledges that there was a prior treaty that was not between the United States nor the State of Hawaii but between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the Italian government.
“We acknowledge and recognize that the Hawaiian Kingdom exists and is operating at 210 Iolani Avenue in Honolulu, Hawaii 96783. We appreciate your visits to our office and appreciate the relationship that Italy has with the Hawaiian Kingdom and its currently operating government.”
Speaking to Hawaii Free Press, Luca Ferrari, Italian Embassy spokesperson explained:
“If this letter is authentic, she is not acting within the authority of her office. These are personal opinions. To the extent that she is representing them as the opinion of the Italian government, that is certainly the big problem. To write it on official Italian stationary as representing the Italian government is unacceptable.”
Prior to its 1893 overthrow, the Hawaiian Kingdom had relations with numerous foreign countries, including a July 22, 1863 treaty with Italy.
The Hawaii Republic, which resulted from the overthrow of the monarchy, was granted diplomatic recognition by Italian King Umberto I, September 23, 1894.
As for the current policy, Mr. Ferrari explained: “The Italian government does not recognize any Kingdom of Hawaii what so ever. We have no relationship. Our relationship is with the United States. As far as we are concerned, Hawaii is one of 50 states.”
Apparently the Di Amore-Siah letter was triggered by the Hawaiian Kingdom Government group pretending to ‘cancel’ the 1863 treaty that the Hawaiian Kingdom had with the Republic of Italy after the Honorary Consul failed to respond to an earlier Hawaiian Kingdom Government letter. Di-Amore-Siah writes:
“I acknowledge that the former Treaty between the Italian Government and the Hawaiian Kingdom was enacted and valid for over a century. I also understand that this treaty was cancelled in August of 2007, for the Italian Government’s failure to acknowledge your prior correspondence in an affirmative letter of acknowledgement.
“We are grateful that the Hawaiian Kingdom has reconsidered the cancellation of the treaty.”
Contacted by Hawaii Free Press, Di-Amore responded with a short written statement. In it she wrote:
“The Italian Government as well as I, believe that this is not a simple matter it is a ‘complicated matter’ and many of the consulates will disagree on the question of the existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom…. The United States has exercised sovereignty over Hawaii since 1898, and the rest of the world (except, based upon my letter Italy) has accepted this both de facto and de jure. Some in our community do want independence and assert the continuing existence of the Kingdom. Ultimately it depends on what other countries decide.”
Asked if she had been in touch with other officials of the Government of Italy regarding this letter, Di-Amore-Siah responded: “They have it. I gave it to them weeks ago.” The letter indicates that a copy was sent to the Italian Consulate-General in San Francisco. Speaking for the Embassy in Washington DC, Mr. Ferrari says: “This is the first time we have seen this letter.”
Speaking to Hawaii Free Press off the record, a United States’ State Department official with involvement in Italian affairs indicated he would take up the matter with the Italian ambassador. The official said: “I think they have some explaining to do there.”
Explaining her decision, Di Amore-Siah wrote:
“Many advocates have worked to assist Hawaiians in their efforts to recover land and resources, and most recently were successful in obtaining from the Hawaii Supreme Court a permanent injunction preventing the sale or transfer of any of the lands ceded to the United States by the State of Hawaii until the claims of the Native Hawaiians are addressed and resolved, in the case of OHA v. HCDCH, decided Jan. 31, 2008. You might want to read that case, because it gives an excellent overview of this topic.
“They hope that the Akaka Bill can be passed, which would lead to negotiations for the return of land and resources to a reestablished Native Hawaiian governing entity….”
“The basis for my opinion and the acknowledgement letter that I wrote is based upon my knowledge and an article that I assisted in writing in law school and my understanding of international law. The article is authored by — Jon M. Van Dyke, Carmen Di Amore-Siah, and Gerald W. Berkley-Coats, Self-Determination for Nonself-governing Peoples and for Indigenous Peoples: The Cases for Guam and Hawaii.”
Mr. Ferrari has a different understanding of international law. He says: “The honorary consuls have very limited powers. They are never allowed to talk on behalf of the government. We are immediately launching an investigation. The Consul General in San Francisco will be in charge of the investigation.”