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Women globally demand justice for Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude murdered by a United States marine

A Press Statement by the International Women’s Alliance (IWA) on the murder of Jennifer Laude
November 2, 2014

The International Women’s Alliance (IWA) strongly condemns the brutal murder of 26-year old Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude who was allegedly killed by United States Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton on October 11, 2014. Jennifer Laude was last seen with PFC Pemberton and was found dead in a hotel bathroom less than an hour later with her head shoved in a toilet bowl, autopsy later revealing she died of asphyxia.

The women of the organizations in IWA, a global alliance of militant grassroots-based women’s organizations, institutions, alliances, networks and individuals committed to advance national and social liberation and gender equality, mourn the unjust and sudden death of Jennifer and extend our support and sincere condolences to the family, friends, community of Jennifer Laude, who are grappling with grief as they lose a daughter, a loved one, a friend.

As an alliance, IWA places culpability on the Aquino regime for continuing agreements, policies, treaties and laws that trample on the sovereignty of the Philippines, the rights of the Filipino people and condone the unequal relations between the US and the Philippines. Under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation (EDCA) Agreement, the US military servicemen have and continue to regard the Philippines as a playground for “rest and recreation” and the Filipinos as sex slaves and sex objects for consumption. Jennifer Laude’s murder is part of the systemic violence that is deeply rooted in a historical legacy of imperialist occupation and an extension of all systems of exploitation and slavery. We believe that in order to build safety for LGBT people, women, and children we must eliminate the root causes and conditions that contribute to and justify the senseless violence.

We also recognize that transphobia, homophobia and hate crime, as expressed differently in the world, have resulted in many deaths. We acknowledge that Jennifer’s life, along with the lives of other victims of transviolence and hate crimes, matters a great deal. Their deaths have provided impetus for awareness raising on the issues and struggles of trans genders. IWA is also committed to organize against all forms of hate, intolerance and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and Queer people.

The long history of military violence has proven to be devastating to Filipino/a children, women and LGBTQ people as the rate of prostitution and sexual assault increases with the presence of US military, from the Balangiga Massacre that started when two American soldiers tried to molest a girl tending a store in September 1901 to the rape of “Nicole” by Lance Corporal Daniel Smith in November 2005.

In the past weeks, PFC Pemberton has been shielded by the US with the latter swiftly taking custody and protecting the alleged murderer of Laude in a US-controlled facility. Although Pemberton is currently being tried under Philippine laws, he can choose not to appear and was never presented to the family and the Filipino people. Under US protection, PFC Pemberton has arrogantly made demands to reduce charges against him.

The MDT, the VFA and the recently signed, Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) have made all these possible. Philippine sovereignty and the Filipino people remain at the mercy and will of US dictates.

Lastly, IWA supports the call of the Filipino women for the removal of US troops, military facilities and bases from their soil, the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. These facilities and bases are magnets for war and have been used by the US in its intervention and aggression in many parts of the world. We oppose the increasing presence of US troops in the region as the US "rebalances" and "pivots" to Asia and heightens militarization of the Asia-Pacific region. We join the call for justice for Jennifer Laude and justice for the Filipino nation.

JUSTICE FOR JENNIFER LAUDE! HOLD PEMBERTON ACCOUNTABLE!

ASSERT CUSTODY OF PEMBERTON! PRESENT PEMBERTON TO THE FAMILY AND THE FILIPINO PEOPLE!

END VIOLENCE AGAINST ALL LGBT PEOPLE! TRANS-LIVES MATTER!

US TROOPS OUT NOW! RESPECT THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE PHILIPPINES!

END UNEQUAL RELATIONS BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINES AND THE U.S.! TERMINATE THE VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT! STOP NEGOTIATIONS ON ENHANCED DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT!