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11 Years, No Justice: Filipino and Allies in NY-NJ Demand Justice for Hacienda Luisita Peasants and Farmworkers

Reference: Jenab-i Pareja, Felipe Asuncion. Co-Coordinators. BAYAN USA Northeast. jenabi09@gmail.com, fasuncion@gmail.com

New York — On Monday, November 16, 2015, members of BAYAN USA, an alliance of 20 progressive and anti-imperialist grassroots Filipino organizations, delivered “coffins” to the Philippine Consulate in New York City to commemorate the 11th Anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre. For over a decade, no one has been held accountable for the violent atrocities that occurred when Philippine police and military forces opened fire on thousands of striking farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita, one of the largest sugarcane plantations owned and operated by the Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s family, killing seven people and wounding hundreds. The demonstrators broadly demanded justice for the fallen victims of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre and all victims of state and political repression, and an overhaul of the feudal agricultural economy of the Philippines through genuine agrarian reform.

In addition to honoring the martyrs of the massacre, the coffins symbolized the dead promises of good governance that President Aquino made when he stepped into office almost 6 years ago. “Throughout his administration, he and his big landlord family have continued to trample on the people’s basic human rights with deadly violence and neglect and wreaked havoc on peasant communities all over the nation and in Lumad communities in Mindanao,” said Jackelyn Mariano, Chairperson of New York Committee of Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP). During Aquino’s administration alone, there have been nearly 300 extrajudicial killings of unarmed activists and community members, mostly from the peasant sector of the Philippines which makes up 75% of the country’s population. Peasant and indigenous communities are often targeted with military violence for the purpose of silencing dissent against foreign large-scale mining, logging, and agribusiness operations, to which the Aquino administration has granted priority access to land and development.

Mariano added, “We are here to demand justice for the people of Hacienda Luisita who have been denied their land by Aquino and his family the Cojuangcos for over half a century, at the expense of the majority of Filipinos’ rights to a decent livelihood. We are also here to demand justice for the indigenous Lumad people in Mindanao who face similar abuses today, as multinational corporations speculate and steal their land.”

“The Hacienda Luisita Massacre is one example of how globalization, capitalism, and neoliberal economic policy exploit the masses in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Felipe Asuncion, Regional Coordinator of BAYAN USA Northeast.

Such neoliberal policies are continued to be pushed today by the Philippine ruling elite and the US puppet master. On November 18-19 the Philippines will be hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. This is where 21 world leaders and big business magnates decide how to liberalize and globalize policies in the Asia Pacific region of the world.

Asuncion added, “The decisions made by state and business leaders at APEC make significant and violent impacts on the migration of people and resources, turning public services over to private control, and loosening regulations that protect the environment, workers’ rights, and the sovereignty of countries in the global south.”

The rally ended with a solemn moment of silence for all victims of state repression in the Philippines. BAYAN USA Northeast calls upon the New York community to continue the fight against imperialism and to join their anti-APEC demonstration in front of the Philippine Consulate on November 17th at 5:30 PM.

Justice for the Victims of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre!
Redistribute Hacienda Luisita to the Farmers Now!
Genuine Agrarian Reform Now!
Defend Indigenous Rights to Ancestral Land!
Stop Lumad Killings!

On the 11th Anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre- BAYAN USA Joins International Protests Against the APEC Summit in the Philippines

For Immediate Release

November 16, 2016

Contact: Jessica Antonio, Secretary General, BAYAN-USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

On the 11th Anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre- BAYAN USA Joins International Protests Against the APEC Summit in the Philippines

12241413_922722044430281_7020425152562164370_n(Above:  Hacienda Luisita Farmworkers march for genuine land reform on the 11th Anniversary of the infamous Hacienda Luisita massacre)

On November 16, 2004, seven farm workers were killed while hundreds of others were injured and unlawfully arrested after police and military personnel opened fire on thousands of striking sugar workers near the gate of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) mill in Hacienda Luisita – the controversial 6,453-hectare estate controlled for nearly five decades by one of the Philippines’ most powerful landlord families, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan. Philippine President, Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III is a fifth generation scion of the Cojuangcos, and guilty of these murders among more than 290 extra-judicial killings during his term. The fight for genuine agrarian reform continues as part of the National Democratic struggle for the Philippines.

This week thousands of people around the globe are staging Anti-APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) protests joining the protests in the Philippines spearheaded by the group People’s Campaign Against APEC and Imperialist Globalization.

“APEC is just another imperialist strategy to exploit the resources of developing countries,” stated Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN USA who is participating in the Anti-APEC actions in the Philippines. “The Philippines among other developing countries have only experienced worsening poverty and political repression as a result of APEC.”

12246995_1057363544274916_1676102865104724303_n(Left Image:  BAYAN USA members joined Filipino workers, fisherfolks, and other BAYAN member organizations calling for justice for the victims of Hacienda Luisita)

The political repression faced eleven years ago is the same political repression activists and community organizers face today. Peasants, who make up more than 75% of the population in the Philippines, still demand genuine agrarian reform- a redistribution of the land. Many died defending their rights to the land at Hacienda Luisita and today they continue to fight against the bureaucracy of land distribution after the Supreme Court’s decision to award the farmers a certain percentage of the Cojuangco land.   According to Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (meaning ‘Peasant Movement in the Philippines’), Aquino has continued a legacy of human rights violations against peasants including 189 cases of trumped up charges, 28 illegal arrests and detentions, over 30 cases of torture, and 7 extrajudicial killings.  Widespread landgrabbing and human rights violations have only intensified under the Aquino regime.

Hacienda Luisita farmers have also expressed solidarity with the plight of the Lumads (indigenous people of the Mindanao region) being brutally attacked and murdered by the Philippine military and paramilitary because they too are fighting and protecting their ancestral land from the encroachment of foreign corporations. Over 500,000 hectares of land in Mindanao is covered by large-scale plantations, a majority of which are run by multinational corporations. The Aquino regime has continued to use the counter-insurgency plan, Oplan Bayanhihan, to carry out its war of terror on peasants and Lumads rising up to resist the militarization of their communities. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has deployed 56% of its troops to the Mindanao region in an effort to protect the economic interests of the wealthy landlords and corporations.  Over 40,000 Lumads have been displaced from their ancestral land, and thousands are carrying out the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao in protest of these incessant attacks.

BAYAN USA joined the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita, Lumads, and hundreds of international activists storming the streets of Manila in protest of the APEC Summit to denounce imperialist globalization and Aquino’s subservience to foreign investors. BAYAN USA will continue to hold President Aquino accountable for sham reforms and brutal violence inflicted on the peasants and indigenous people.  We will continue to support the peasant movement for genuine land reform and justice for all victims of state repression.  We call on the international community to join together in the international struggle against imperialism and the fight for national and social liberation by participating in the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS), which just held its 5th International Assembly.

Justice for the Victims of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre!

Redistribute Hacienda Luisita to the Farmers Now!

Stop Lumad Killings!

Genuine Agrarian Reform Now!

Defend Indigenous Rights to Ancestral Land!

 

For more information on:

Hacienda Luisita:  www.luisitawatch.wordpress.com

Save Our Schools Campaign:  www.saveourschoolsnetwork.wordpress.com

International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS): www.ilps.info

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BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 20 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.

Resistance is Not Terrorism: BAYAN USA Northeast Stands in Solidarity with the Palestinian Struggle for Genuine Liberation

 

Reference:
Jenabi Pareja, Regional Coordinator, BAYAN USA Northeast 510-932-2513, jenabi09@gmail.com

Resistance is Not Terrorism: BAYAN USA Northeast Stands in Solidarity with the Palestinian Struggle for Genuine Liberation

BAYAN USA North East mobilizing in the streets of New York in solidarity with Palestinian protesters

BAYAN USA North East mobilizing in the streets of New York in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

BAYAN USA Northeast vehemently condemns Zionist occupation and stands in solidarity with the movement for Palestinian liberation. For over 60 years the Palestinian people have resisted the colonization of their ancestral land just as the Filipino people have been continuing our own resistance since 1896. As oppressed peoples of the world, we must unite against foreign occupation and imperialism.
On October 18, 2015 BAYAN USA Northeast organizations GABRIELA New York, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines and Anakbayan New Jersey, marched alongside 2,000 people in solidarity with the Palestinian people, the targets of settler aggression in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Professor Hatem Bazian, Chairman of American Muslims for Palestine was the keynote speaker in the rally in opposition to the Zionist “Jewish Lives Matter” rally, also held in Times Square. Not only did the Zionist rally appropriate the Black Lives Matter language, but also callously wore Israel Defense Forces t-shirts as they held a moment of silence for murdered Israelis, but not for the disproportionately targeted Palestinians.
“We refuse to accept an unfolding of history that forces Palestinians off their land into small camps so that Zionists can develop the land for their sole interest,” said Jenab-i Pareja, Regional Coordinator of BAYAN USA Northeast,

“Palestinians have the right to return to their homes, the right to have decent lives uninterrupted by genocidal fascist imperialism. We refuse to accept another apartheid, the subordinate treatment of economic, social, political, and civil rights of Palestinians. We support Palestinians’ rights to fight for their liberation by any means necessary, the people have the right to rebel and take up arms against their struggle. From the Philippines to India to Palestine, armed struggle is the only solution.”

Palestine and the Philippines are two of the longest-lasting theatres of U.S.-backed wars of aggression. The Israeli military is the highest beneficiary of military spending outside of the U.S. The U.S. has been funneling $3 billion to Israel annually and $178 million to the Philippines to suppress resistance movements. In the past few weeks, over 30 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded. In particular, five protesters died and more than 100 were wounded in the Day of Rage in Gaza and the West Bank this past week. With the increasing state repression and human rights violations in both countries, there is no other choice but to struggle for liberation of our peoples.
BAYAN USA Northeast calls upon Filipinos throughout the diaspora to stand in solidarity with Palestine. The resistance of Filipinos is inherently tied to the resistance of Palestinians, and vice versa. Liberation in Palestine is a step towards liberation for the Philippines. Our movements are strengthened as our struggles for genuine peace intensify. Settler colonialism and imperialism will succumb to the rising power of the oppressed peoples of the world. Together, we struggle towards victory.

FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE!
NO TO U.S. TAX DOLLARS FOR ISRAEL’S CRIMES!
STOP U.S.-BACKED ZIONIST WARS AGAINST PALESTINE!
FREE, FREE PALESTINE!
DEATH TO US IMPERIALISM & ZIONISM!
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

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Filipino and LGBTQIGNC Community in New York Honor Jennifer Laude One Year Later, Demand Trans Justice Now

For Immediate Release

October 12, 2015

Reference:

Cole Carothers, Chairperson, GABRIELA New York, colejcarothers@gmail.com

Katrina Cortes, Coordinator BAYAN North East Queer Caucus, corteskb@gmail.com

Filipino and LGBTQIGNC Community in New York Honor Jennifer Laude One Year Later, Demand Trans Justice Now

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New York – 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.

BAYAN USA North East Queer Caucus was represented by member organizations GABRIELA New York, Anakbayan New York, Anakbayan New Jersey, and New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, and joined by TransJustice of the Audre Lorde Project, Ayotzinapa NYC, and Miss LGBT Philippines-USA Chelle Lhuillier of TransPinay.

BAYAN USA North East Queer Caucus called for the swift conviction of U.S. Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton and his immediate transfer from U.S. to Philippine custody. Pemberton was last seen with Jennifer Laude in Olongapo City before her broken body was found in a hotel room. In Philippine court, Pemberton denied killing Jennifer, but admitted to strangling her after discovering she “was a man” and said he feared he had been “raped.” Activists and community members at the vigil recognized Jennifer’s murder as a hate crime and expressed outrage at the prosecution’s “trans panic defense” used to justify Pemberton’s transphobic aggression.

Although there was a recent victory with the passage of AB 2501, California’s state ban on the use of “trans panic” and “gay panic” defenses in court, transgender and gender non-conforming people are being murdered at a historic rate in the U.S. Sheneeneh Maria Smith of TransJustice commemorated transgender people of color, who were murdered for their gender expression, by reading their names out loud. Chelle Lhuillier of TransPinay called on those at the vigil to remember the 15 transgender people murdered in 2015 alone. “Our fight for justice doesn’t end on the street. We have to continue fighting for our rights, we have to continue demanding justice, and to continue fighting for higher visibility for greater acceptance in society. We have to fight against violence and discrimination, particularly around gender,” stated Lhuillier.

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BAYAN USA North East Queer Caucus also called for the abolition of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which allow U.S. military presence in the Philippines despite a constitutional ban in 1991 on U.S. military bases. Pro-U.S. military treaties like the VFA and EDCA trample on Philippine sovereignty and continue to promote state-sponsored violence against the Filipino people, especially women, LGBTQIGNC people, children, and indigenous peoples. Under the VFA, Pemberton has remained under U.S. custody despite his arrest by Philippine authorities and trial in Philippine court. He was in Olongapo City after participating in military exercises that are part of the VFA.

“Pemberton got away with murder before he ever committed it. The precedents set by the VFA guarantee special treatment of U.S. military in the Philippines,” stated Cole Carothers, Chairperson of GABRIELA New York. “We saw this with Lance Corporal Daniel Smith in his 2009 conviction of rape against a Filipina woman “Nicole.” Despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, and his actual conviction, he won freedom in a smaller appeals court and walks free on U.S. soil. Pemberton enjoys his U.S. paid salary in U.S. custody but should be held to the crimes he confessed to at the hands of the people.”

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Filipinos and non-Filipinos connected militarization in U.S. and the Philippines to the systemic violence disproportionately experienced by the trans and gender non-conforming people of color community. “In 2013, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that 72% of victims of anti-LGBTQ homicides were trans women, and 67% of them were trans women of color.

“We know in the U.S. that trans women of color especially face the violence of militarized police brutality. The U.S. military takes that same hate to the Philippines and other countries, but now with rifles, warships, and policies like the Visiting Forces Agreement that let them get away with hate,” said Gian Parel of BAYAN USA North East Queer Caucus and Anakbayan New Jersey.

Members of the Audre Lorde Project worked collaboratively with BAYAN USA North East Queer Caucus to organize a team of de-escalators to ensure a safe environment for those participating in the action. Nico Fonseca of the Audre Lorde Project said, “I’m here to support BAYAN Queer Caucus and GABRIELA to support trans and gender non-conforming folks to come out to vigils, rallies, and events like this and feel safe. I think it’s really important that while we’re organizing, we understand that our lives are at risk because of the state and intercommunal violence and internalized oppression. It’s often very dangerous for us to mobilize, to take up space in the name of Jennifer Laude, and in the name of our trans siblings who are killed and murdered. I’m grateful to support ALP’s TransJustice members, Sheneeneh Smith who spoke and to support everyone who came through so they feel safe and empowered.”

The march followed with a solemn candle-lighting and a moment of silence for Jennifer and all transgender and gender non-conforming victims of state-sanctioned violence.

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GABRIELA New York is a mass-based women’s organization serving New York City and its surrounding areas. We connect the Filipino diaspora to the women’s struggle in the Philippines. We are women of Philippine descent, including those who are migrants, immigrants and US-born. We recognize Filipino women of mixed heritage and adoptees. GABRIELA New York is a LGBTQI-(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and Intersex) friendly organization that is inclusive of transgender people of Philippine descent.  We are a proud member of GABRIELA-USA, the first overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines. To learn more, please go to www.gabusa.org.  GABRIELA New York is also a member of BAYAN-USA. 

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 20 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.