GABRIELA USA Speak Out Against State Violence on International Human Rights Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 10, 2014
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

GABRIELA USA Speak Out Against State Violence on International Human Rights Day

State Violence and Impunity

During International Human Rights Day, GABRIELA USA demands justice for all of those who have had their human rights violated, especially those who lost their lives. Our communities are reeling from the ongoing and intensifying state-sanctioned murders of people of color in the US. The list of names of slaughtered black and brown men, women, trans-women, and children is too long and ever-growing.

We grieve the police killings of unarmed Americans whose crime was the color of their skin. In the wake of the subsequent grand jury decisions not to indict police officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Wilson, in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, respectively, GABRIELA USA members have joined mass protests with statements of indignation to express our horror and anger at the loss of life of these men and the disregard for their lives by the state.

And still, there are countless women and trans people of color who have also been killed with impunity by police that remain nameless with their lives invisible and the pain in their communities unheard. Police have contributed to the disproportionately high murder rate of trans-women and cis-women*. The cases of Tyisha Miller, killed in her car after she became unconscious after having a seizure in 1998 and in 2012, Rekia Boyd was shot by police while holding a cell phone in her car at a park have been silenced. The murders of young mothers and their children such as Tarika Wilson and her infant son killed in 2008 during a police raid at home and Aiyana Jones, seven years old, was shot by a Detroit police raid in 2010 while sleeping in her bed, cannot continue to be silenced.

The Philippines Under U.S. Imperialism
The American forces’ murderous reputation and culture of impunity extends internationally. In the Philippines, U.S. Marine PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton violently killed Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old transgender Filipina. Instead of facing criminal charges under Philippine law, Pemberton is still in U.S. custody and benefits from its protection. Laude’s murder follows the tired pattern of Filipina victims of violence at the hands of U.S. troops illegally stationed in the Philippines. Under the Philippines-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), the Philippines has ultimately given up its rights to its colonial American master and relegated Filipinos, and especially Filipina women, to second-class citizens.
The inaction and failure of the Philippine government to protect its own citizens exposes its true agenda: to serve the economic and military interests of the U.S.
A case in point of this is the frequent and extreme typhoons that have erased whole communities. Due to Philippine government corruption and pandering to multinational corporations, the country suffers from weak infrastructure, landslides due to large-scale mining and logging, poor warning systems, and hoarding of relief funds and goods by the Philippine government. U.S. military “relief” is in fact a ploy to justify sending in more troops, as to this day, many families have not received any relief and instead have relied on people’s volunteer organizations on the ground and foreign humanitarian groups, such as the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. Aquino’s political impotence reveals the nature of his presidency as a puppet for U.S. interests.

The U.S.’ imperialist efforts toward political and economic domination is a key contributor to global human rights violations in all its forms. The global migration phenomenon is a result of unjust economic policies designed and implemented to benefit the U.S. and a handful of the most powerful governments and corporations at the expense of migrant workers. Filipinos, especially women, fall victim to labor and sex trafficking. GABRIELA USA is calling for justice for over 300 teachers who were recently trafficked by Isidro Rodriguez in Washington, D.C. Predatory agents like Rodriguez take advantage of the vulnerability of migrant workers due to weak legal protections in both their home and host countries.
The People’s Demands

The Philippine government, under President Benigno Aquino, is complicit in serving the agenda of the U.S. imperialists to break into the markets of the Asia Pacific at the costs of the basic rights and welfare of its own people. GABRIELA USA exposes the U.S. imperialist agenda motivated by profit and power. We oppose state violence against all people in the U.S. and internationally including cis-women, trans-women, immigrants and migrants, and we recognize the common threads in these narratives.

GABRIELA USA joins the voices of our kababayans in calling for President Aquino to step down or be removed by the people’s will. Aquino must answer for countless criminal acts during his regime, including but not limited to facilitation of human trafficking, negligence in response to natural disasters, and abetting the U.S. in its “War on Terror.” Aquino is murdering and terrorizing Filipinos using military funding from the same government that murders and terrorizes its own black and brown communities with highly militarized police forces. It’s all part of a bigger picture and it needs to stop now.

GABRIELA USA calls on you to join us in support of our campaigns against economic, state, military, and gender violence here in the U.S., in the Philippines, and internationally. We demand justice for victims of police violence, human trafficking, man-made environmental disasters, and economic inequality. We demand justice for all victims of human rights violations!

Ultimately, we are fighting for the dignity and respect for all life and the genuine liberation and freedom of all oppressed people.

End Police Brutality! Black Lives Matter!
End Violence Against Women! End Transmisogyny Now! Justice for Jennifer Laude!
U.S. Out of the Philippines! Junk the Visiting Forces Agreement! Junk the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement!
Justice for Victims of Typhoons! End Large-Scale Mining and Logging Now!
Justice for Trafficked Teachers and All Victims of Human Trafficking!
Oust Aquino Now!

#InternationalHumanRightsDay #IHRD #InternationalSolidarity #BlackLivesMatter #ICantBreathe #JunkVFA #JunkEDCA #Justice4JenniferLaude #EndTransmisogynyNow #TeachThemALesson #NAFCONUSA #USTroopsOut #OustAquino #SulongGABRIELA #GABRIELAUSA

Show your support in calling for the transfer of Pemberton to Philippine custody, an end to VFA and EDCA, and an end to anti-LGBTQ violence by signing GABRIELA USA’s Jennifer Laude petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/justice-for-filipina-trans-woman-jennifer-laude.

* Cisgender (often abbreviated to simply cis) describe related types of gender identity where individuals’ experiences of their own gender match the sex they were assigned at birth.
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GABRIELA USA Commemorates the Anniversary of Typhoon Pablo During 18 Days of Action for IDEVAW

December 4, 2014

Reference: Rhondalei Gabuat, Secretary General, GABRIELA Seattle, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

IDEVAW_FB_BannerToday, December 4, marks the 2nd year anniversary of Typhoon Pablo, the strongest tropical storm to hit the southern island of Mindanao claiming hundreds of lives, and destroying the homes of thousands with little help from the Philippine government.  Survivors of Pablo continue to demand justice for the lack of relief aid provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Last year, another tropical storm, Typhoon Haiyan, hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippines where over 10,000 lives were lost and 4 million people were displaced.  After one year, people living in the areas hardest like Tacloban, are still struggling to recover and reclaim their lives.  Meanwhile, Super Typhoon Hagupit is gathering strength in the Western Pacific and threatening to deal another significant blow the Philippines.

As climate change and the warming of air and sea temperatures give more power to tropical cyclones, countries like the Philippines suffer the blow.  Extreme poverty, lack of infrastructure and exploitation worsen the impact, especially to women and children.  Government neglect has been an ongoing outcry of the Filipino people during times of calamity.  As each natural disaster pummels through the country, there is an increased military presence, not just by the AFP but of the deployment of more than 5,000 US soldiers in the country.  Women and children become vulnerable during these volatile times and become victim to increased human trafficking and violence.

Several members of the PNW region visited areas impacted by Typhoon Pablo and Haiyan to aid in ongoing relief work, and while the rebuilding continues, one thing remains intact, continued neglect and unpreparedness by the Philippine government.  Reflections by those who saw first-hand the impacts of these “unnatural” disasters were shared.

IDEVAW Pablo Anniv collage

“On my last two trips to the Philippines, the Manobo have taken me into their homes, their schools, fed me and my children, taught me their way of life, rebuilt their lives from one unnatural disaster to another. A community with very little resources has taught me so much about resilience, hardship and sacrifice. Once again, greed and corruption drive the Lumad off their ancestral domain because of harassment, intimidation, and forced use of violence. I’m tired of hearing the NPA rebels being scapegoated as terrorists living amongst the Lumad when the real terrorists lurk around in uniform, whose duty it is to defend the rights and land of their own people, and instead get away with hundreds of thousands of unwarranted human rights violations so we can just give away our nation’s natural resources to foreign investment. When they themselves reach a tipping point and lay their lives on the line to defend these lands, I raise my fist. Dugang kadasig!” ~Donna Denina – Gabriela USA, Philippine Exposurist 2013

“I connected with Precious and Henry who would be the very first U.S.-based activists to accompany the kasamas to provide over 12,000 aid packs of food, water and other needed supplies to Tacloban and Eastern and Western Samar. Though I was not able to accompany the caravan, I was honored to have helped share their stories and experiences about their efforts via social media and emails. At the same time, I was inspired by BALSA’s grassroots efforts to aid the survivors of Haiyan through volunteer power.” ~Joaquin Uy- Philippine-US Solidarity Organization, Philippine Exposurist 2013

“Relief is only part of the solution as it is temporary.  The actual rehabilitation and rebuilding of the devastated areas is long-term; and after talking with organizers the Philippine government isn’t acting fast enough or doing much, in my opinion.  At the distribution I participated in, a major challenge was that there were more people than there were relief packs, so many were turned away.  It took place in a very public area so I think a lot of the folks who came were passersby or heard about it.  There was a voucher system and those with tickets could receive a pack.  Several people came up to me saying they didn’t have a ticket but obviously wanted a bag of goods.  The lines were extremely long, but the distribution itself was well organized.    

I am grateful I am here and that I got to participate on this trip, witnessing and building with so many volunteers from the various organizations affiliated with Bayan that came together to help those affected by Typhoon Yolanda.” ~Precious Butiu– Gabriela USA, Philippine Exposurist 2013

 

 

A Solidarity Message from One Mother to Another #JusticeforMike

November 25, 2014

Reflections of a GABRIELA member, from one mother to another, in response to the Grand Jury decision of no indictment to charge police officer Darren Wilson for the murder of unarmed 18-year old Mike Brown.
By: Melissa Reyes, GABRIELA San Francisco

I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds
and a dead child dragging his shattered black
face off the edge of my sleep
blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders
is the only liquid for miles
and my stomach
churns at the imagined taste while
my mouth splits into dry lips
without loyalty or reason
thirsting for the wetness of his blood
as it sinks into the whiteness
of the desert where I am lost
without imagery or magic
trying to make power out of hatred and destruction
trying to heal my dying son with kisses…
- Excerpt from “Power” by Audre Lorde

Like the rest of this country, I heard the grand jury’s decision last night. The non-indictment of Darren Wilson. This verdict spoke volumes and for communities everywhere, it reminded us that another young black man’s life has no value in this country. And like so many, I was not surprised. And like so many, a flood of grief still engulfed me. As I stared blankly at the television, my 5-year-old daughter’s curious voice interrupted the silence and my own numbness. Sol asked, “Mama, what happened? Why are you crying?”

I opened my mouth but could not form the words. How do I explain to my 5-year-old daughter that black boys are targeted and killed in this country for being black? How do I explain histories of fascism, racism, imperialism? Instead, I told her that another mother’s son was killed. Her son’s name was Mike Brown. That Darren Wilson, the person who killed him, did not have to apologize, or go on time out, or face the consequences of his actions.

But when I reflected more on what I had told her, it made me dizzy trying to fathom the loss of my own child. From one mother to another, I know that a mother’s anger, grief, and rage is justified. I may not know her pain intimately or even begin to imagine it, but I am in solidarity with her today. I will hold her hand from where I stand in San Francisco, California to demand justice for her son, Michael Brown. And I will hold the hands of countless mothers who also demand justice for their sons murdered in this country, murdered by a government that plays a hand in violence around the world, from Mexico to Palestine to the Philippines to Ferguson, Missouri. A government that has terrorized black communities since its inception.

For a split second, I wanted to apologize to my daughter for bringing her into a messed up, crazy world. More specifically, I wanted to apologize for bringing her into a world where white supremacy still breathes, multiplies, destroys. But a mother’s anger, grief, and rage is always justified and we topple violent state repression and the loss of our children with action. Ms. McSpaddon, I am holding your hand and tonight in the streets, I will chant, scream, cry justice, and continue to organize for your son.