FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 25, 2013
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
On November 25th, GABRIELA-USA commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) by answering the call from our kababayan back home in the Philippines to join Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts. “Super Typhoon Haiyan is not just a Philippine-based issue, but a global one. With rapid climate change due to large-scale carbon emissions and extraction of natural resources for multi-national corporate gain, calamities throughout the world are increasingly becoming deadlier,” says Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA USA.
Instead of genuine aid for the people, we are witnessing increased military presence, not only through the AFP, but also the deployment of 5,000 U.S. soldiers aboard aircraft carriers with missile cruisers, as well as soldiers from the Israeli Army, to protect the interests of multi-national corporations. We have historically seen that with an increase in military presence in communities, we see increased risks of violence, sexual assault, rape, and sex trafficking. The Philippines along with other third world countries are targets for U.S. military occupation to protect the interests of the global 1% instead of looking out for the welfare and livelihood of the people who need it most. Disaster relief should not be an excuse to further militarize the Philippines, at the expense of security of women and children. “Women and children are especially vulnerable to sexual violence and human trafficking during times of calamities and conflict,” continues Francisco.
In Somalia, a deadly tropical cyclone hit the country on November 10, killing 140 and with many more missing due to flooding and wind. The U.S. has been using Somalia as a base of operations for drone programs, and Mogadishu is home to a major CIA field station. The U.S. has interest in the region and teamed with the British to carry out bombing operations against alleged Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda bases in Somalia. “Throughout the world, women and children are suffering the effects of militarization. During times of calamity, women are the ones who are thinking about the safety of their children and their families, and militarization only worsens their situation,” says Irma Bajar, Vice Chair of International Relations of GABRIELA USA. As seemingly “natural” disasters create need for aid, it should not double as an invitation for military occupation. The conditions in Somalia and the Philippines point to links between increased climate change due to neoliberal corporate aggression and imperialist military intervention.
GABRIELA USA criticizes the lack of emergency preparedness by the Philippine government, despite the increasing occurrence of “natural disasters,” but also the lack of accountability and blame-shifting for it’s own deficient infrastructure to handle calamity. Together with our fellow alliances of BAYAN USA and the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), we come together in solidarity with our people in the Eastern Visayas – not just for the immediate relief needed post-catastrophe, but also through the long road of rehabilitation for the numerous communities, towns and lives of those most hard-hit.
GABRIELA USA demands an end to U.S. imperialist military occupation of third world countries throughout the globe. We understand the correlation between global climate change caused by environmental injustice (i.e. the effects of large scale mining, deforestation, etc.), government corruption, and militarization – all of which magnify the destruction of typhoons and earthquakes like we have seen in the Philippines and Somalia.
Women’s activists have marked November 25 as a day to fight violence against women since 1981. On December 17, 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated November 25th as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women by Resolution 54/134. The date came from the brutal assassination in 1960 of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.