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TW: Transmisogynist murder, rape - Justice for Jennifer: Protests sweep Philippines after US marine murders transgender women
October 19, 2014
Protests continue across the Philippines following news of the murder of Jennifer Laude, a transgender Filipina woman, allegedly at the hands of a U.S. marine in Olongapo City. Coming just months after the U.S. signed a controversial pact to boost its military presence in the Philippines, protesters say the killing is stoking deep-rooted anger over the U.S. military’s treatment of Philippine civilians and prompting renewed calls to boot U.S. troops from the country.
"We are not only hoping to be able to bring justice to our fellow Filipina, but also to force the U.S. and Philippine governments to rethink their strategy in the region," Joms Salvador, Secretary General of GABRIELA—a Philippine alliance of women’s movement organizations—told Common Dreams on Friday over the phone from Manila.
"Here We Go Again"
Jennifer Laude, 26 years old, was killed in a Olongapo City hotel room on October 11, with signs that she may have been beaten and strangled. Philippine police on Wednesdaycharged a U.S. marine, Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, with the murder. Pemberton was one of 3,500 U.S. military service members taking part in a joint military exercise with the Philippines.
U.S. military officials, who have not publicly confirmed or denied Pemberton’s identity, say that a marine under investigation is currently being held by the U.S. military on the USS Peleliu, an amphibious vessel currently in the Subic Bay free port northwest of Manila.
The Philippine government served a subpoena for Pemberton on Friday. However, past atrocities, and relative immunity for U.S. troops in the Philippines, leave many skeptical that the U.S. service member will be held to account.
In the infamous Subic Bay rape case in 2005, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith—who was found guilty in Philippine court of raping a Filipina woman while other Marines watched—was transferred from Philippine to U.S. custody. His conviction was later overturned, and he was never made to serve the life sentence handed to him by a Philippine court.
Bernadette Ellorin, New York-based Chairperson of BAYAN-USA, an alliance of Filipino organizations in the U.S., told Common Dreams that she considers the killing of Laude a “hate crime against a transgender woman.” Ellorin continued, ”There is a long history of the U.S. military committing heinous acts against people in the Philippines and not really being brought to justice because military agreements more or less protect them.”
"Here we go again," said Salvador. "We have another case, and we are still not sure if there will be justice for Jennifer and her family."
Expanding U.S. Military Presence
Meanwhile, the U.S. military presence in the Philippines, enabled by mounting pacts between the U.S. and the Philippines, is growing.
The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines, signed in April, is a 10 year deal that allows the U.S. to drastically increase its military presence in the Philippines. The accord is part of an Obama administration push for a military pivot to the Asia-Pacific region in a bid to hedge against China’s rising power.
The pact is broadly opposed in the Philippines, as it reverses a 1992 decision by the Philippine government, under pressure from the public, to kick the U.S. out of its last permanent base in the country, located in Subic Bay. Social movements in the Philippines have long opposed U.S. power over their country, which includes more than five decades of direct colonial rule and the backing of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
However, the 1992 decision did not actually keep the U.S. military out. The U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement, signed in 1998, allowed the U.S. to establish over 20 “semi permanent" military installations in the country. It also includes language that has been used by the U.S. military to shield service members from Philippine laws, including in the Subic Bay rape case.
Residents say that the U.S. military, and the agreements protecting it, is deeply destructive to local communities. Soldiers commit atrocities with impunity, said Salvador. And the military’s environmental destruction and waste dumping harms ecosystems and public health. This includes a U.S. Navy ship’s damage last year to Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, which the U.S. still has not paid reparations for.
"There are also concerns about the displacement of many communities because the U.S. military is already building facilities in several parts of the country, including Oyster Bay in the Pelawan Islands, which is home to indigenous communities," Salvador continued. "The U.S. military has not been fully been held responsible for the damage it has done."
"Justice for Jennifer"
Salvador says that protests in the country are issuing calls for the U.S. military to leave, and “bringing to the fore” the pressing issue of LGBTQ and women’s rights.
"Every day there have been protests in front of the U.S. embassy in Manila or the department of foreign affairs office in Manila," she said. "Protests are taking place in schools, in communities, and other parts of the country. We are seeing not only women’s and LGBTQ organizations protesting, but also students, workers, and poor people. Even media personalities, legislators, and actors, who before were not vocal about their views, have recently also shared their indignation over Jennifer’s murder."
Demonstrations have taken place across the U.S., including New York, San Francisco, and Lost Angeles. “The response has been overwhelming from our community and the LGBTQ community as well,” said Ellorin. “Transgender people are taking leadership and sticking up for value of Jennifer’s life.”
"We are demanding justice for Jennifer," Ellorin added. "We can’t take the context away: there is a problem with us military presence in the Philippines."
Please help spread the word about this book on social media using the hashtag #QTAOC (for Queer and Trans Artists of Color).
Thanks to @WeilyLang and Kelly ShortAndQueer for sending my photos of themselves with the book! If you post photos of YOURself with the book and tag them #QTAOC, I will be sure to reblog them! <3
Can’t wait to read this!
Manila, Philippines: Protest at the U.S. embassy, October 16, 2014:
Justice for Jennifer Laude!
Junk Visiting Forces Agreement!
Fight for National Sovereignty!
US Troops OUT NOW!
Photos: Southern Tagalog Exposure
Furious students burn Mexican government building in protest over police corruption, demand justice for missing students
October 16, 2014
Hundreds of residents in a southern-Mexican city smashed up the state capital building in a furious protest over the continued lack of information about 43 local college students, believed to have been abducted by corrupt police.
The local police are allegedly working with a powerful drug cartel and it’s feared that 10 newly discovered mass graves may contain the bodies of the students taken on September 26. “Up to 20” charred remains were discovered on Saturday.
As an investigation is underway, 26 police officers have so far been arrested, a number of which admitted to working with the Guerreros Unidos – an infamous drug cartel. Arrest warrants have also been issued for the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Albarca, his wife and his security chief, but they have gone into hiding.
The building in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state, was seen from a distance, engulfed in flames.
According to local authorities, the crowds included hundreds of students and teachers from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college, who blockaded the building and used sticks, rocks and Molotov cocktails to attack it.
They initially tried to get into the state congress, but police in riot gear repelled the crowd.
This comes more than two weeks after a serious incident in Iguala, also in Guerrero state, involving the shooting of six students by police during a rally in support of rural teachers’ rights. The law enforcers opened fire on a bus carrying protesters and arrested dozens of students, who have not been seen since.
The situation touches on a problem that’s been plaguing Mexico for a long time – police corruption and rampant organized crime by ruthless cartels.
Monday’s events come after a case of mistaken identity, during which the police shot and wounded German student Kim Fritz Keiser of the Monterey Institute of Technology, according to state authorities.
Keiser was travelling with her other foreign classmates in a van from Acapulco, which passes through Chilpancingo. At the time, the police were involved in another, unrelated confrontation with kidnappers, and erroneously assumed the people in the van had some sort of connection with the kidnapping. The state prosecutor’s office told AP that, as the officers tried to pull the van over, some crackling sound resembling a gunshot was heard from inside the vehicle. The police shot back, wounding the student.
Fearing that it was a case of armed men kidnapping students, the driver of the van refused to stop and drove away from the scene.
The officers involved in the incident have been detained and their weapons are being examined, authorities say.
Warnings have been issued by US authorities in the past to avoid the northwestern part of the state of Guerrero, because of frequent violence occurring in places like Iguala.
JUSTICE FOR JENNIFER LAUDE !
END THE MILITARY EXERCISES AND VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT!
KICK OUT THE U.S. MILITARY OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES !
If you live in NYC, come join us for the action and rally on Wednesday, October 15 at 5 pm in front of the Philippines Embassy.
When: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 5 pm.
Where: 556 Fifth Avenue, New York front of the Philippines Embassy
If you haven’t heard already in Philippine news and now some U.S. news outlets like ABC News & The New York Post, yesterday night a transgender woman name Jennifer Laude was found murdered inside the Celzone Lodge on Magsaysay Drive in Olangapo City, Zambales. She was found, strangled with her head leaning over the toilet by one of the hotel attendants who was also a witness. The attendant, Elias Gallamos, witnessed a white man with blonde hair and a marine cut walking out of the hotel room a few minutes after both he and Jennifer went in. According to Elias the suspect left the door open and Elias went to check the room but saw slippers outside the bathroom so believed someone was inside using the room and he left. Later, they returned to check back in the hotel room and discovered Jennifers body.
Earlier on in the night another witness, the victim’s friend, said they met the suspect at the Ambyanz Disco Bar at 10:55 p.m. Jennifer then invited the suspect to the hotel and asked the witness to leave before the suspect found out they were both transgender.
Both witnesses describe the man as having a “white complexion, with marine-style cut of hair,” standing between 5’8″ and 5’10” and between 25 and 30 years old.
The suspect is now detained in the USS Peleliu assault ship as the investigation continues. However according to the VFA any military servicemen who has committed a crime in the Philippines must be held by U.S. officials not Philippine officials. Basically the U.S. military is hiding behind the VFA (which they created) for the suspect and any other military personel stationed on the islands to gain immunity and escape prosecution from Philippines laws.
Now people, especially the family members and friends of Jennifer, are worried that the U.S. ships can leave at any time and justice won’t be served as the suspect and 3 other suspects of the case will not be turned over to Philippines authorities. Though officials say the ship will not be able to leave the port until the case is solved many worry this will not be the case.
We call for the U.S. to turn over the suspects to Philippine officials for investigation. We call for justice for Jennifer Laude in which its clearly a hate crime and for the numerous rape cases by U.S. military who have escaped prosecution.
Indigenous People’s Day Photo Project 2013
Photo Credit: Andrew Burlingham
South Puget Sound Community College’s Diversity & Equity Center
solidaridad con #Ayotzinapa
Su dolor es nuestro dolor.
Protesters carry a mirrored coffin.
Saturday, October 11th