Filipinos Celebrate Marriage Equality Supreme Court Decision and Continue the Fight Towards Genuine Victory

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2015
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

GABRIELA USA joins LGBTQ rights defenders and advocates in celebrating the announcement of the Supreme Court decision to uphold marriage equality, ruling that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to legally marry in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. This landmark victory would not have been possible without the decades long struggle of LGBTQ people, advocates, and supporters. While the Supreme Court decision is a major step forward in LGBTQ rights, we are a long way from genuine equality and justice.

Recently, trans Latina woman and transgender rights advocate Jennicet Gutiérrez made national headlines for interrupting President Barack Obama during the White House Pride reception. Obama’s swift silencing of Gutiérrez’s cries to release all transgender immigrants from detention and to stop all deportations highlights the glaring contradiction that while the Obama administration celebrates “LGBTQ rights” it continues to implement the systematic incarceration, detention, and violence against transgender immigrant people of color. Seventy five trans people are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) daily, 90% being trans women and 10% being trans men (Source: Approximation based on ICE estimates and demographic analysis from the Williams Institute at UCLA). Obama’s silencing of Gutiérrez highlights the historic silencing and erasure of trans women of color, their lives, their issues, and their struggles.

In early March of this year, GABRIELA Los Angeles marched together with Gutiérrez and FAMILIA: Trans Queer Liberation Movement (TQLM) in front of the Metropolitan Detention Center to demand the release of Nicoll Polanco, a 24-year old Guatemalan transgender woman being detained by ICE in an all-male facility Florence, AZ. Polanco has suffered nearly a decade of transphobic hate crimes in Guatemala and the U.S., including sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination. We applaud Gutiérrez and FAMILIA for their continuous activism for trans immigrants like Nicoll who have been denied their freedom, dignity, and human rights. We affirm the urgency and truth behind Gutiérrez words crying out for justice from Obama who has deported over 2 million immigrants since 2008 and continues to detain immigrants in deplorable and inhumane conditions in for-profit facilities.

GABRIELA USA continues to stand with the LGBTQ community in the struggle for democratic rights. While the achievement of marriage equality is a historic victory, the fight against transphobia, hate crimes, bullying, and systemic violence must fiercely continue. We especially recognize and will continue to join the necessary struggle alongside our trans communities for basic human rights including housing, jobs, health care, genuine safety within our community and most especially liberation from state repression and violence.

During this Pride month, GABRIELA USA lifts up and celebrates the lives of all trans women who have been unjustly murdered, including the life of Jennifer Laude, a trans Filipina woman beaten and strangled by U.S. Marine Private First Class Joseph Pemberton. The trial for Laude’s murder is still ongoing in the Philippines.

We call on our communities and supporters to join us in Trans Day of Actions all across the country in celebration of trans power, trans resistance, and trans lives! We recognize and salute the Trans women of color, including Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, who fought back against police and led the Stonewall Riots in 1969. We will continue to fight for Trans Justice and for Trans Liberation!

Filipino-American Women Celebrate, Remains Vigilant

For Immediate Release
April 28, 2015
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com
#SaveMayJaneVeloso Movement Successful In Delaying Execution!

San Francisco, CA — Filipinos worldwide celebrate over a much anticipated announcement of a last minute reprieve from execution for Mary Jane Veloso, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who captured international attention and was set to be executed by firing squad in Indonesia today. The news comes after several days of mass protests, vigils, petition campaigns, and an international movement in support of Veloso, widely believed to be a victim of human and drug trafficking who has been wrongfully convicted. Veloso’s story has resonated with millions of Filipinos, especially with migrants and other OFWs who deeply understood the sacrifices Veloso made for the livelihood of her family and two young sons.

GABRIELA USA joins the international community in rejoicing that an unjust execution of an innocent mother has been avoided. “Today we celebrate the people’s victory in successfully advocating for Mary Jane Veloso’s life, in raising international awareness on a grave injustice faced by a fellow kababayan, and exerting pressure on the Indonesian and Philippine government to protect a victim of human trafficking!” says Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA USA. “It is the collective power of the Filipino people and international supporters that saved Mary Jane’s life, no thanks to President Noynoy Aquino, who allowed her to languish in Indonesia’s death row for five years before lifting a finger of support. This is tantamount to criminal neglect!”

GABRIELA USA has mobilized several actions and forums nation-wide for Veloso, including pickets in front of Indonesian consulates in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington DC, the Philippine consulate in San Francisco, and in front of the United Nations in New York. GABRIELA USA continues to call for Veloso’s supporters to remain vigilant. “The fight is not over,” says Francisco, “The reprieve is only temporary, and Mary Jane is still in prison. We will not rest until she is free, and goes home to her family.”

Veloso’s plight has highlighted the Aquino government’s fumblings and inaction, contributing to Veloso’s prolonged suffering. Veloso’s own family members have testified to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ slow response over the course of five years, the poor legal representation, and lackluster advocacy on behalf of Aquino himself. “Aquino continues to undermine and sabotage the future of the country and of our people, as we have seen with the Pork Barrel scandal, Mamasapano, and now with Mary Jane Veloso. It is clear that he must resign immediately, or prepare to be ousted!” says Francisco.

Continuing the Fight for Filipino Teachers and All Overseas Filipino Workers on the 20th Year Death Anniversary of Flor Contemplacion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2015
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

On March 17, 2015, twenty years after Flor Contemplacion’s death, Filipino migrants and their families will rise up again in a weeklong series of actions from March 16-March 22, to exercise their democratic right to call for system change as more Filipino women overseas migrant workers are abused, exploited and enslaved under President Aquino’s term. Each day, an estimated 6,092 Filipinos leave the country (IBON Foundation, 2015 data), and women OFWs make up more than half the migrant workforce – 55%. Due to widespread landlessness, joblessness and poverty, mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces and grandparents are forced to leave and face dire and uncertain conditions abroad. More than 600 Filipino teachers experienced fraud and abuse by their recruiter, Isidro Rodriguez, of the Renaissance Staffing Support Center since 2003. Some 300 of these teachers were trafficked to the U.S., and forced to work under less than desirable conditions in the Washington D.C. area.

One year ago today, GABRIELA USA exposed the human trafficking scheme lead by Rodriguez, who is currently at large with two existing warrants against him for illegal recruitment and estafa. Recently, he was spotted in Granada, Spain, even when the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation barred him from leaving the country, and he continues to profit from the exploitation of OFWs. GABRIELA and Migrante International are calling for an urgent response from the Philippine Department of Justice other concerned agencies in Spain to arrest and extradite Rodriguez now.

Concurrently, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has been meeting over the past two weeks at the UN Headquarters in New York to discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for action, a global policy intended to improve the conditions of women worldwide. GABRIELA and the International Women’s Alliance (IWA) will lead protest actions outside the UN demanding truth, accountability transparency in the negation process on March 17, 12:30PM.

Please join GABRIELA USA in a week-long series of actions to continue the fight to end the exploitation of overseas workers, stop enforced migration of Filipino people, and continue to seek justice for the trafficked teachers. It is clear there is much to be done to improve the lives of Filipino migrant women here and abroad. President Aquino is faced with losing battle to regain trust in the people, and must resign now.

#Justice4FilipinoTeachers
#RememberFlor@20
#EndForcedMigration
#AquinoResign

Filipino American Women March to Demand BS Aquino Resignation and Stand Together Against State Violence

Press Statement

March 6, 2015

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

GABRIELA USA members and allies across the country in Oakland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Portland, and New York City march together on International Working Women’s Day to protest ongoing state violence from the Philippines to their locales in the US. Filipino American and immigrant women have organized together this past year to protest and assert their rights for safety, dignity and justice. On March 8th, 2015, they again come together to make their demands clear for an end to systematic violence in our communities, in the workplace, and by the state.

This past year, GABRIELA USA’s main campaign to seek justice for Filipino teachers who are survivors of trafficking sought to intensify the man-hunt for Isidro Rodriguez, a labor trafficker who single-handedly breached contracts of over 300 Filipino teachers, many of which are still seeking justice. GABRIELA members from Washington DC have led the way by confronting Philippine Embassy officials, demanding support for their case and calling for accountability by the Philippine government. Still, the Aquino administration has yet to pay attention to their calls and provide accountability from Rodriguez who remains at large after his release last May 2013, continuing his illegal recruitment schemes and victimizing many more overseas workers. Despite the hundreds of complaints to the Department of Justice in the Philippines and recent sighting of Rodriguez in Spain, little to no action has been done to extradite him.

Furthermore, the murder of Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman, by Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton is a clear consequence of the danger of US military occupation in the Philippines. This international case demonstrates the puppetry of BS Aquino to US imperial powers as Aquino has kept silent and passive in achieving justice for Laude and her family. To add insult to injury, Aquino has continued to submit to US will by signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) last year, allowing the US greater access to military bases in the Philippines.  US militarization has been detrimental to country’s sovereignty, while the women continue to suffer from continued sexual assault and violence from their presence.

These examples of the Philippine state’s negligence to its migrant citizenry as well as the Filipino people in the homeland, move Filipino American women, migrant women and allies to mobilize on International Working Women’s Day and highlight the incompetence of BS Aquino. GABRIELA USA stands with millions of Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad calling for his immediate resignation and move towards the establishment of a transitional council.

In the US, GABRIELA USA members stand against the increasing police brutality and violence against Black people in the US, and other communities of color. In the past year, member organizations have joined the thousands of people who have insisted that Black lives matter. While state violence and repression continues in our communities, we must also march in the streets and stand against anti-trans violence and deaths that have spiked in the last year and often go unheard. GABRIELA USA will take the streets and speak out and fight for women and trans women for safety, justice, self-determination and liberation.

Justice for Trafficked Teachers and All Victims of Human Trafficking!

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!

AQUINO RESIGN!

Join us in commemorating the 105th Anniversary of International Working Women’s Day in the city near you!

Los Angeles, CA

Monday, March 9, 2015

Women Rise Up, Aquino Step Down!

6pm Rally at the Philippine Consulate

3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 550

Los Angeles, CA 90010

LA March 9th Event

 

New York City, NY

Sunday, March 8, 2015

International Working Women’s Day Coalition 10th Anniversary March & Speak Out

End Police Brutality, State Repression and Militarization!

12pm Rally at Herald Square, 34th Street and 6th Ave.

1pm March

2pm Speak out at Solidarity Center, 147 West 24th st.

NYC March 8th Event

 

Oakland, CA

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lake Merritt Amphitheater (12th st. & 1st ave.)

UPHOLD the LEGACY & POWER of WOMEN’S RESISTANCE HERE and ABROAD!

12PM Rally & Speak Out for Justice

12:30PM March to Rise & Resist

1:30PM Celebration for Women’s Strength & Resistance

Oakland, CA March 8th Event

 

Portland, OR

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Portland Waterfront Esplanade

Power Project

Join this community visual project to voice the powerful ways in which we thrive as women and build solidarity among the multiplicity of nations, ethnicities and cultures that create a Portland culture of resistance and fight, in the face of intense attacks on our livelihoods, our bodies, and our communities.

10am-5pm

 

Seattle, WA

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Rainier Valley Cultural Center – 3515 South Alaska St. Seattle, WA 98118

Women Who Rock – Rocking Media Justice Festival | womenwhorockcommunity.org

11 AM International Women’s Day Musical Brigade March

(Meet Rainier Ave. S & S Dawson St. Route heads to the Rainier Valley Cultural Center.)

1:00PM Rocking Medial Justice Festival

Seattle, WA Event

 

Washington, DC

Saturday, March 21

Building A Collective Struggle for Womyn’s Liberation

4:00 – 8:00 pm at Washington Peace Center (1525 Newton St NW, Washington, DC 20010)

Washington, DC Event

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GABRIELA USA Demands Immediate Resignation from BS Aquino

For Immediate Release

February 25, 2015

Contact: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

AquinoResign3

 February 25, 2015 marks 29 years since the People Power Revolution or the EDSA Revolution ousted the 20-year long dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. The administration was rife with graft and corruption, teeming with human rights violations including murders, enforced disappearances, torture, and wrongful imprisonment of activists and anyone with a dissenting opinion. Today, the son of Marcos’ rival, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino III, is president of the Philippines. Benigno Simeon Aquino III has followed the footsteps of his father’s adversary.

On January 25, 2015, an extremely violent encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, the southern part of the Philippines, killed 44 Special Action Forces, a mobile unit of the Philippine National Police, and members of the Moro Liberation Front (MILF), as well as civilians. Under BS Aquino’s watch this incident has exposed his administration’s subservience to US imperialist aggression, militarization and dominance as the clash that claimed the lives at the end of January has been linked to secret US military training, including the use of US drones, which undermines Philippine sovereignty. Additionally, Aquino has avoided any accountability as the widows and family members of the fallen have gone public with the trauma of the incident and seeking out justice.  When families of the killed SAF members confronted Aquino with questions, he responded with sarcasm.  Given this high profile incident, Aquino has demonstrated once again his incompetence and persistent neglect for the overall well-being of the country.

Furthermore, BS Aquino has been lackluster in the trial for the murder of Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman who was found dead on October 11, 2014 in Olongapo City. Aquino has done next to nothing to hold Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US military personnel who allegedly took Laude’s life, accountable for his crime. He would not so much as attend the wake of the slain transgender woman, claiming “I don’t attend wakes of people I don’t know”.  Although this case of trans-violence has gained international attention, this case comes after the Philippines and the US strengthened its ties with the recent Enhanced Defense Coordination Agreement (EDCA), which allows greater US access to Philippine military camps.

The Filipino people have had enough, and the clamor for BS Aquino’s resignation has increased as his arrogant lack of accountability and neglect of the Filipino people has time and time again proven his incompetency.  Aquino is part of a long history of inept leaders continuing the plunder of the country’s resources, and failed attempts to create any real meaningful change.  From the lessons of EDSA 1 and EDSA 2, we must push forward with an overhaul in the system, but in the interim, a body known as the Transition Council can be formed in the short term.  This interim body could run the state of affairs, which is representative of various groups that would have the genuine interest of the people in mind, until a more permanent government can be formed.  Let us reignite the power of the people once again to call BS Aquino’s resignation and continue the fight for genuine freedom and democracy in the Philippines.

GABRIELA USA chapters and affiliated organizations are holding various protest actions and education forums in light of the anniversary of People Power.

AquinoResign

Hold the US-Aquino regime accountable for the bloody incident in Mamasapano!

Aquino Resign! Oust the US-Aquino regime!

Establish a transition council! Advance genuine change!

US Out of the Philippines NOW!

#AquinoResign

#USOutofPH

###

 

Filipino Women and Allies Join One Billion Rising for Revolution to Demand Truth and Accountability from BS Aquino and Call for His Resignation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Statement

February 17, 2015

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

Filipino Women and Allies Join One Billion Rising for Revolution to Demand Truth and Accountability from BS Aquino and Call for His Resignation

From February 8-16th, 2015 GABRIELA-USA, along with partner organizations and individuals, in cities across the U.S. including Los Angeles, New York City, San Jose, Seattle, Portland and Washington DC joined the One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign to end all forms of violence against women and children, through flashmob dance, educational discussion, community forums, and cultural sharings in their local Filipino communities. This year’s OBR call “Rise for Revolution” was a global call for women, survivors of violence and their allies to demand justice and celebrate women’s determination to create a new kind of consciousness- one where violence will be resisted until its unthinkable. GABRIELA USA members across the nation also rose to resist state repression and negligence as the BS Aquino administration amplifies its attacks on the Filipino people. In urging for Aquino’s resignation, we recognize and demand the need for systematic change in the Philippines.

In the past few weeks, we’ve witnessed the failure of Philippine President Noynoy Aquino to come out and be held accountable for the encounter in Mamasapano where 44 Special Action Forces policemen were killed, along with members of the MILF, civilians and children. This U.S. led operation is proof that the US “war on terror” continues at the expense of Filipino lives. Precious Butiui, Chairperson of GABRIELA Seattle says, “In this third year of participation in OBR, we are demanding truth and accountability for this bloody Mamasapano encounter and demand BS Aquino to stop covering up and to tell the truth and step down from his presidency!”

Just last week, Isidro Rodriguez, an illegal recruiter from the Philippines who has committed several crimes of human trafficking was spotted in Spain. It is evident that the Philippine government has not held traffickers accountable for their crimes, even with a mounting global campaign against Rodriguez.  Pia Rivera of GABRIELA DC says, “Our members who are the Filipino trafficked survivors have been separated from their families, sent to the U.S. with broken promises and still face increasing debt. Rodriguez would not have been able to commit these crimes if it weren’t for the government’s Labor Export Policy which has continued to tear families apart. It is a policy that views the Filipino people as commodities and sources of remittances to uphold the failing economy.” The Aquino administration’s negligence proves that migrants are nothing but cash cows rather than human beings deserving of dignity and respect.

In New York City, Monique Wilson, the global director of One Billion Rising joined GABRIELA New York in their Pinay HERstories: “Migration to Liberation” event that reclaimed the Filipina narrative showing the resilience of Filipino migrant women and the power of community through stories, poetry, song and dance. Candice Sering, Chairperson of GABRIELA New York said, “We are dancing and rising for revolution because the Filipino people deserve to live a dignified life with adequate jobs, livable wages, housing and rights to land ownership.” For GABRIELA members in the US and the Philippines, the government is one of the worst perpetrators of violence against the livelihood of women and the security of their families’ ability to live full lives.

 Lastly, in San Francisco, Pia Cortez, Co-chairperson of GABRIELA stated, “The murder of Jennifer Laude, a trans woman by a U.S marine soldier is an example of unequal relationship between the Philippines and the U.S. Until now, justice for Jennifer has not been served. Her death would not have been possible if Noynoy did not authorize and did not allow U.S. troops in the country through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.” The presence of U.S. military in Philippine soil has put the lives of women and children in danger, and US troops also endangers the lives of transgender people, as we have witnessed with the death of Jennifer Laude, and undoubtedly countless others. Cortez continued, “This is the same climate that we’re also seeing here in the United States, with the recent deaths of trans women of color.” Cortez makes the important global connection of trans-violence but also the need for resistance.

GABRIELA-USA calls on President BS Aquino to resign immediately due to the recent Mamasapano bloodbath and his continued failures, neglecting the Filipino people at home and abroad. We call on our global community to join the movement towards genuine freedom and liberation, and a world where women are free of all forms of violence imposed by a repressive imperialist system. Join us in commemorating International Working Women’s Day on March 8th as we continue to strengthen our collective resistance and power!

Hold the US-Aquino regime accountable for the bloody incident in Mamasapano!

Justice for Filipino Teachers and all victims of human trafficking! End the Labor Export Policy!

Justice for Jennifer Laude and all victims of anti-trans violence!

Aquino Resign!  Oust the US-Aquino regime!

 Check out GABRIELA USA’s One Billion Rising Videos:

GABRIELA New York OBR video with Monique Wilson

GABRIELA Los Angeles OBR video

GABRIELA Seattle OBR video

Breaking News Update! *** ISIDRO RODRIGUEZ SIGHTED IN SPAIN ***

February 12, 2015

WhereInTheWorldisIsidro

Isidro Rodriguez, recruitment agency owner and operator of a large-scale human trafficking scheme, was sighted in Granada, Spain this January by a victim of Rodriguez, who only recently discovered Rodriguez’s status and corrupt history after researching on the Migrante International website.

Since 2003, Rodriguez has victimized at least over 600 Filipino teachers experiencing fraud and abuse, between the Philippines, the United States and now Spain. Despite the placing a hold order against him at the Bureau of Immigrations and placing him on a “watchlist”, Isidro has been  able to freely leave the country with continued impunity.  He remains at large after having been convicted by a Manila regional trial court sentencing him to 11 years in prison for victimizing a Filipino teacher.

He has two existing warrants of arrest against him for illegal recruitment and estafa. Aside from the warrants, he has numerous pending cases of syndicated estafa and large-scale illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons filed in different courts by at least 300 Filipino teachers that he had victimized from 2009-2014. He also has pending complaints against him in US courts by Filipino teachers he has victimized there. Despite the many complaints filed by victims, being placed on a “watchlist” from the BI, Rodriguez continues on with business as usual.

Migrante International is calling for an urgent response from the Philippine Department of Justice and other concerned government agencies in Spain to arrest and extradite Rodriguez now!

Let’s continue to expose the US-Aquino regime in its continued quest to exploit the Filipino people. We have outlined a social media blitz below to prop the issue and call for Isidro’s immediate extradition and PNoy’s resignation as the chief trafficker of the Philippines.  We must expose the US-Aquino regime in its continued quest to exploit the Filipino people.

Action Plan:

As a response, please utilize all social media outlets and prop the image we have supplied with the following hashtags:

#Justice4FilipinoTeachers

#ArrestIsidroRodriguezNow

#PNOYHumanTraffickerinChief

#PNOYResign

 

Filipino Women Supports Black Resistance and Join Direct Action to Blockade Oakland Federal Building

For Immediate Release

January 16, 2015

Reference: Irma Bajar, International Relations Officer, GABRIELA USA, irmabajar@gmail.com

Third World 4 Black Power pic 1

Oakland, CA – More than two hundred protesters made headlines this morning with thirty activists effectively creating a blockade in front of two main entrances to the Oakland Federal Building as an act of solidarity for Black liberation, power and self-determination. In the wake of the increasing police brutality and murders committed against Black people across the country, organizers of the protest successfully blocked both entrances for four hours and twenty-eight minutes; four hours symbolic of the length of time that Michael Brown was left on the street after being gunned down by Ferguson police, and twenty-eight representing the every twenty-eight hours a black person is killed by state violence. Members of GABRIELA USA joined the blockade and protest, connecting the state repression faced by Filipinos in the Philippines to the police brutality faced by Black communities in the U.S.

Third World 4 Black Power pic 2

Irma Bajar, GABRIELA USA’s International Relations Officer was one of the individuals chained to the Federal Building doors alongside other activists representing international movements. “Today’s action was a demonstration of our support for Black Power and Resistance while connecting police violence here in the U.S. to a global structure that is fueled by imperialism. As a part of third world movements for liberation, we are committed to the militant struggle for Black liberation and self-determination,” says Bajar.

Elaine Villasper, GABRIELA USA Vice Chair of Membership addressed the crowd of protesters and explained that BART has operated a fifteen year program where BART officers go to the Philippines to hold trainings and consultations with the Philippine National Police (PNP). “These trainings and consultations are just a guise for sharing tactics of repression, the outcome of which is the murder of innocent people. The murder of Black lives like Oscar Grant is directly connected to the murders of activists in the Philippines. We must make these connections, link arms, and stand in resistance against these attacks against our lives and our communities.”

Third World 4 Black Power pic 3

Today’s action will be followed by a mass protest and march on Monday, January 19 at 12:00PM from Fruitvale BART to the Oakland Coliseum. GABRIELA USA will be joining the Third World Resistance contingent and welcomes all allies and supporters to join us in reclaiming Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy, and march in solidarity with Black communities.

#3rdWorld4BlackPower #MLKShutItDown #BlackPowerMatters

###

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