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.

GABRIELA USA Launches 18 Days of Action on International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 25, 2014
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

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November 25, 2014 marks the thirty-third year since activists proclaimed this day as International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women (IDEVAW), in commemoration of Dominican Republic political activists, the Mirabal sisters. They strongly opposed the fascist dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, and were ordered to be killed on this date in 1960. GABRIELA USA is launching an 18 day campaign starting today and concluding on December 12, International Day Against Human Trafficking, to raise awareness and encourage action on key dates throughout the course of the campaign.

GABRIELA USA condemns the continuous failing of the B.S. Aquino administration that does not protect the rights of its people. In the Philippines, the Aquino regime perpetuates multiple forms of patriarchal violence targeting women, LGBTQ identified people, and children. The actions and–even worse–the inaction of this government are reprehensible, and the women of GABRIELA USA are raising our voices during the next 18 days to expose the systemic violence that perpetuates a culture of violence in our communities.

From the U.S. to the Philippines, state-sponsored violence runs rampant. The U.S. is a global power that has about 1,000 military bases and installments throughout 61 countries globally. Rather than protecting Filipino women and children, B.S. Aquino proves his subservience to the U.S. by continuing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and recently signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). These unequal agreements with the U.S. unnecessarily exposes Filipino women to further forms of violence, as seen in the recent murder of transgender woman Jennifer Laude by prime suspect U.S. Marine PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, who has not yet been fully turned over to the Philippine authorities for proper detention or investigation.

“This case is reminiscent of the Nicole rape case in 2005 where Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was not convicted of his crime. What message is Aquino sending his people? That it’s acceptable for U.S. military personnel to rape, murder, and violate the rights of people of countries they are based in? Aquino is doing nothing to uphold the rights of his citizens against human rights violations committed by foreigners, and we say enough is enough!,” proclaims Tina Shauf, mass campaigns officer of GABRIELA USA.

The violence against Filipino women reaches across the world while Aquino continues neglecting migrant citizens’ rights and welfare. Economic hardship has created an exodus of Filipino workers forced to migrate under vulnerable conditions, a majority of whom are women. An example is the case of Filipino trafficked teachers, a major campaign of GABRIELA USA led by GABRIELA Washington, D.C. teachers who have suffered from exploitation and abuse by labor trafficker, Isidro Rodriguez. The trafficked teachers have felt the injustice of their government that has not advocated for their cause. “Here in D.C. where the Philippine Embassy is, it has taken numerous complaints over the years, and it isn’t until now that we have an organized group of trafficked teachers rallying outside their gates that they have taken notice,” stated Janet Basilan, GABRIELA D.C.’s Vice Chair of Campaigns.

Lastly, government neglect in the Aquino administration has continued to attack its own people through continuing pork barrel schemes allowed by the president himself. As politicians act on their own behalf with impunity, calamity relief and livelihood for Typhoon Haiyan-affected regions are left without recourse. This political violence against the Filipino people is a heavier burden on women as their responsibilities to work and attend to domestic duties are stifled because of politicians’ graft and greed.

The women of GABRIELA USA will not stand for this systemic violence. Instead, we demand accountability, justice, and genuine social change to uphold the rights and welfare of Filipino women globally.

Women Unite to Eliminate Violence Against Women!
Justice for Jennifer Laude and all victims of hate crimes! Trans Lives Matter!
Justice for Filipino Trafficked Teachers!
Justice for Victims of Typhoon Haiyan!
Junk VFA! Scrap EDCA! No to TPPA!
End State-Sponsored Violence!

Please join us to demand justice for Jennifer Laude by taking action and obtaining at least 1,000 signatures in our 18 Days of Action, concluding on December 12! Read, sign, and share our petition, which can be found here: bit.ly/justice4jennifer

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GABRIELA USA Stands in Solidarity with the Trans Community on Trans Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2014

Reference: Terrie Cervas, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

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GABRIELA USA joins in solidarity with the Trans and Gender Non-Conforming community on this Trans Day of Remembrance. We are outraged at the escalating transphobic attacks, murders and the struggles faced by Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people, including low-income, imprisoned, undocumented and trans people of color. We remember, grieve, and demand justice for those who have lost their lives to transphobic violence, including Aniya Parker in L.A., Zoraida Reyes in Orange County, Mia Henderson and Kandy Hall in Baltimore, Islan Nettles and Lateisha Green in New York.

On October 11, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old transgender woman from the Philippines, was brutally beaten and strangled to death in a hotel room in Olongapo City near Subic Bay Naval Base by Private First Class Joseph Pemberton. Jennifer’s death, clearly the result of a violent hate crime, also underscores how U.S. militarization and unequal U.S. led agreements contribute to transphobic, transmisogynistic, and gendered violence. The U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), and now the greatly expanded Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), further perpetuate hate crimes and state violence like that against Jennifer Laude to occur.

Over a month since her death, no criminal charges have been made, and the prime suspect still has not fully been handed over to the Philippine authorities for proper investigation. These events repeat a pattern of protection and immunity granted to a string of U.S. personnel who have committed sexual violence, murder, and other human rights abuses in the Philippines. GABRIELA USA joins the global campaign to support Laude’s family in seeking justice, and to demand an end to unequal military agreements that enable ongoing human rights abuses against the Filipino people and infringes upon the sovereignty of the Philippine nation.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., trans women are four times more likely to experience police harassment and violence than all others reporting police violence. In just one case, a Washington D.C. cop shot into a car of three trans women after one refused his attempt to solicit sex. In 2008, video footage caught Memphis police brutally beating a handcuffed trans woman, Duanna Johnson, in their custody; soon after the exposé, Johnson was fatally shot. The criminalization and detention of trans people of color increases.

We are inspired by freedom fighters like Cece McDonald, a Black trans woman who was harshly punished and imprisoned for defending herself against a transphobic attack, but remains steadfast as an outspoken organizer for trans justice and against state violence. We stand in solidarity with trans people of color who have suffered at the hands of state violence, from police brutality and the prison industrial complex, to U.S. militarization abroad.

We recognize the links between state violence against trans people within the U.S. and U.S. militarization globally, which perpetuate transmisogyny and a culture of violence targeting queer, trans, gender non-conforming, and people of color. We desire a world in which we don’t have to fear hate violence, police intimidation, losing our homes and livelihood, for being trans. We desire a world where we all may thrive, where the human rights of all are upheld, where we are celebrated in all our gender expressions and identities. We pledge to continue to educate our communities about the need to fight for justice and self determination for all trans and gender non-conforming people, while building safe and supportive spaces.

Trans Lives Matter!
End Violence Against Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People!
Healthcare, Housing and Human Rights for Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People Now!
Justice for Jennifer Laude and for All Victims of Transphobia, Militarization, and State Violence!
Junk the VFA and EDCA! US Troops Out!

We request your support in the campaign for Justice for Jennifer Laude, and for an end to the VFA and EDCA. Please help us reach 1,000 signatures, by signing and forwarding our petition: bit.ly/justice4jennifer

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