On Sunday evening, October 11, 2015, BAYAN USA North East Queer Caucus with GABRIELA New York and TransJustice of the Audre Lorde Project led a vigil and march of over 60 activists and community members along Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside, Queens, to honor the life of Jennifer Laude, a Filipina woman, brutally killed one year ago by U.S. Marine Scott Pemberton and to demand immediate justice for her case, while calling for an end to all forms of violence against women and LGBTQIGNC people of color.
NYCHRP’s speech is below, which was read by our member, Renee Daniel:
Good afternoon everyone! I am Renee Daniel and I organize with the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines or NYCHRP. We are a collective of queer, straight, Filipinos, and non-filipinos committed to advancing the vision of national democracy in the Philippines and fighting for liberation of all peoples, from all over the world and all sectors. We are gathered today to show our persistence in calling for justice for our sister Jennifer Laude who was ruthlessly killed by a US servicemen one year ago in the Philippines.
We call for an end to the VFA, Visiting Forces Agreement, and the EDCA, Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, two bilateral policies between the US and the Philippines that station American troops in the Philippines for Filipino security. But instead of reassurance there has been an increase in rape. Instead of safety, call it subordination. Instead of consent, call it captivity. For far too long the US has used the Philippines as its playground, toyed our people as commodities, puppeted our government, and forced us to play neoliberal patriarchal policies that continue to break our brown, poor, and queer bodies. It is because of the VFA that a year has passed with no justice for Jennifer while her murderer gets to sit comfortably on a US ship docked in the Philippine waters.
Increased militarization by the U.S. has shown time and time again the violence of mainstream masculinity and the power and coercion it flaunts. The U.S. collaborates with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in serving and protecting the interests, not of the people, but of big foreign corporations as they continue to violate human rights. Just 40 days ago, we found out about the killings of three leaders in indigenous communities in Mindanao by paramilitary forces. These leaders were mentors in a community of schools that taught about sustainability, indigenous culture, human rights, and positive values of the LLGBTQ – Lumad, Lesbians, Gay, Bi, Trans, queer community. These were people who were invested in the education of children, teaching and imagining a world that was free from discrimination of all peoples. But the military continues to harass, torture, and murder our people. There are over 6,000 US troops stationed in Mindanao–that is 3,000 more US soldiers than Iraq! The Philippine and US military are primarily stationed in areas where foreign businesses like mining corporations are continuing to extract resources from the land. Again, who is the military protecting?
We will continue to see US military expansion and violation of human rights, indigenous peoples rights, women’s rights, and queer/ trans people’s rights all over the Pacific with the passing of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (or TPP) this past week. The new economic deal will continue to make countries like Japan and the US richer on the backs of millions of poor people. The TPP will continue to privatize public goods, such as a push by large pharmaceutical companies to further privatize hospitals and HIV/AIDS medication that will make it inaccessible for working class queers to access basic health services. We do not want a Trans Pacific Partnership between states, we want Trans solidarity across the Pacific!
The US will not get away with the murder of Jennifer Laude and countless others in their pursuit of power. The US cannot get away with impunity in our homelands and expect us Filipinos to massage its broken ego. WE SAY NO! Instead, we are going to break the US empire. Today, on National coming out day, we honor Jennifer Laude by coming out to the streets!
Justice for Jennifer Laude!
No Justice No Peace! Stop the Killings in the Philippines!
Stop Lumad Killings!
Junk VFA! Scrap EDCA!
US Troops Out of the Philippines!
No to TPP!