In a move long expected by industry analysts, Pride, Inc., the San Francisco headquartered multinational that holds the franchise to the Pride Parade and CelebrationTM, has announced plans to merge with the Exodus Corporation.
"We'll be outsourcing some of our activities to Exodus. They have the expertise needed for us to compete in a global market place," said Pride, Inc. spokesman Divan Buffy. "Our traditional market, the dykes, the trannies, the homos weren't spending enough. We've come to the conclusion that niche gays finish last."
"To be honest, gays have become a drain on our parade," Buffy said.
Buffy and his uterine donor are poised to become the public face of the new entity.
"We're forging straight ahead. We'll have Associates for Safety and Security (ASSes) at the parade and celebration to ensure that our FamilyTM event is not disturbed."
Join us in the late-afternoon or early-evening on July 4th (exact time & place to be announced) to visit multiple picnic / bbq / fireworks venues in the Bay Area. Some of us will be in costume as detainees, while others hand out information and collect pledges for the Declaration of Peace, a pledge to participate in non-violent action if the government fails to "establish a comprehensive plan to end the US war in Iraq" by Sept 21st (see below...). Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to participate!!
by Deni and Chaya
MOCHA COLUMN QUIZ
Who said, “We feel it's time to spend some quality time – apart.” Was it: (a) Elliott Stabler and Olivia Benson, (b) George Bush and Condoleezza Rice, or (c) Barbie and Ken.
Akeelah and the Bee (reviewed by Deni and Chaya)
This latest entry in the spelling bee genre is an “inspirational drama” about a girl (!) from South Central L.A. It had good acting (Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett and terrific newcomer Keke Palmer) and an uplifting multicultural message (I am somebody/Rocky/Stand and Deliver/It takes a village, etc). A little predictable, shallow and saccharin in places but overall enjoyable. We did not have the prospicience to realize that all it would take for Akeelah to counter her difficulties would be a spelling bee! But by elucubrating, we were able to realize this possibility. Or was it the prestidigitation of Hollywood?
DaVinci Code (reviewed by Chaya and Deni)
Poor Leonardo, that’s all we can say. Or poor us for having to sit through 2½ hours of bad movie. Chaya alleges the book was fun (well, up until the last ponderous third). But not even Ian McKellen could save the movie from Tom Hanks (need we say more), Ron Howard’s direction and the “oops we laughed again but it wasn’t supposed to be funny” script. Our final chuckle came with Vern’s summation: “So – the sarcophagus of Mary Magdalene – wife of Jesus and mother of his child -- is buried in the basement of the Louvre?” So profitable the con of movie goers.
BITS AND PIECES
Knock Knock Who’s There? No Knock. No Knock Who? No Knock You. The U.S. Soupreme Court’s recent ruling that it was ok for police departments to NOT knock and wait – even 3 seconds – produced a memorable quote from Justice Antonin Scalia: “Police forces across the U.S. take the constitutional rights of citizens seriously.” According to the majority opinion (new! improved! now with Roberts and Alito), there’s no need to suppress evidence obtained with a warrant because police intrusions on residential privacy are adequately restrained by several factors -- including “the increasing professionalism of police forces.” Go Supremes!
Homeland Security Strikes Again: Thousands of school bus drivers have participated in anti-terrorism training by Homeland Security in the past year to learn how to watch for suspicious activities (we assume “suspicious activities” include underfunding public education, mismanagement and embezzling of school district funds and property, and anti-union behavior on the part of school districts). The goal of the School Bus Watch Program is to have 600,000 “field scouts” in the war on terror. Training includes a history on terrorism worldwide, how the typical terrorist attack is carried out, and tips on how to prevent terrorism in the school bus industry. We feel safer already, but just in case keep your eyes on that peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Maybe the SFPD could provide consultation – after all, they did a great job not too long ago blowing up a suspicious rusty flashlight found in a Starbucks.)
Answer to Mocha Column Quiz: If you said (c) Barbie and Ken, you’re right! (Ok, actually it was their "business manager," Russell Arons, vice president of marketing at Mattel). We have to wonder if, after 43 years as one of the world's most famous couples, there is some truth to the rumor that Ken is gay and finally coming out. And now, a research study has found that some girls like to mutilate and torture Barbie (including decapitation, burning, breaking and microwaving), often because she represents their younger childhood they want to leave behind. Oh dear. We hope Mattel is holding up ok.
WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF
On Wednesday, June 7, Army Lt. Ehren Watada became the first military officer to publicly announce his intention to refuse deployment orders to Iraq. In his own words:
"It is my duty as a commissioned officer of the United States Army to speak out against grave injustices. My moral and legal obligation is to the Constitution and not those who would issue unlawful orders. I stand before you today because it is my job to serve and protect those soldiers, the American people, and innocent Iraqis with no voice.
"It is my conclusion as an officer of the Armed Forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. Although I have tried to resign out of protest, I am forced to participate in a war that is manifestly illegal. As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order."
Sometime near the end of June, Ehren will be given official deployment orders -- which he will refuse -- at which time he will face a court martial, up to two years in federal prison and a dishonorable discharge.
A working group has been formed in the Bay Area to support Ehren and plan rallies and other actions to show the Army and the country that there is no more honorable course of action than resisting an illegal and immoral war.
Courageous soldiers like Ehren will be a crucial link in ending the war in Iraq. It is our responsibility in the antiwar movement to defend these soldiers and in so doing to broaden GI resistance to the war. As Ehren said, " My commander asked me, if everybody like you refused to go to Iraq, what would that leave us with? And I guess he was trying to say we wouldn't have an army anymore, and that would be bad. But I wanted to tell him if that happened the war would stop, because nobody would be there to fight it."
Veterans for Peace hosted an informational and strategy meeting on Saturday, June 17, for organizations and individuals interested in supporting Ehren and other war resisters in the Bay Area.
For more information on Ehren and his case, and to sign a petition of support, go to www.thankyoult.org. To find out about next steps in the Bay Area, call (415) 335-0953.
SPC. Suzanne Swift experienced "constant and pervasive sexual harassment" during her year with a military police unit in Iraq. According to her lawyer, Larry Hildes, she was harassed by "multiple sergeants, one of whom coerced her into a long-term sexual relationship. She complained to command about these Sgts., only one was disciplined, and then only with a reprimand. She finally reached her limit and went AWOL in January."
Swift was home in Eugene, Oregon, and Hildes was trying to negotiate for her to turn herself in, when on June 13, "the police forced their way in and then assaulted Suzanne's mother and took Suzanne to the Lane, County, OR jail." The Army picked her up two days later and shipped her back to Ft. Lewis, WA."
Swift's mother, Sara Rich, is a long-time antiwar activist. She immediately mobilized the Community Alliance of Lane County to hold a rally and vigil outside the jail.
According to an article in the Oregon Daily Emerald, "As a testament to Eugene's grassroots anti-war movement, some 75 supporters passed through the protest along Fifth Street.… Supporters brandished pink signs saying, 'We're all Susan's [sic] Mothers,' 'Bring our Troops Home,' and 'No VA Budget Cuts.'"
"Ninety percent of women who serve in the military have been sexually harassed and one-third have been sexually assaulted, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs," reported the Daily Emerald.
Rich wrote on Portland Indymedia, "My fear for my daughter is real. My hope for and belief in my daughter and what she is doing is strong and unshakable. I truly believe she saved her own life with her courage. Hopefully by telling her story and standing strong she can encourage others in the military to stand up, speak out and refuse to participate in this illegal and immoral war."
Hildes asks people to call Lt. Col Switzer, her commander at Ft. Lewis-(253) 967-4921, and ask that she be released. See http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2006/06/341069.shtml for more addresses to send letters and other ways to support Suzanne and Sara.
After an absence in the mainstream media, AIDS has returned to the headlines. If you picked up a newspaper, then you have probably read a “25th anniversary of AIDS” article. To be more precise it has been 25 years since the June 5, 1981 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report had a brief mention that detailed five cases of Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia in gay men in three Los Angeles county hospitals. The 25th anniversary of the government actually doing something about AIDS will not arrive for quite some time.
In marriage terms, this is the silver anniversary. Let’s hope we’re not going for the gold. As time passes, one can see how history is made, denied and rewritten. AIDS is no exception.
Five years ago, Ultra Violet ran a piece on the 20th anniversary as a counter vision to corporate media’s take on AIDS. Five years ago the media was simplistic, reducing things to AIDS before protease inhibitors and AIDS afterwards. Things have gotten a little more ahistorical. A few weeks ago, the SF Chronicle (once a so-called leader in AIDS coverage) ran its 25 year piece. It included the following sentence:
"AIDS Coalition Silicon Valley, along with others
like ACT UP, took bold steps in the early days such as shutting the Golden Gate
Bridge and disrupting staid civic events such as the opening night at the San
No disrespect to the Silicon Valley folks, but the Bridge and Opera actions were conducted by a grassroots direct action bunch called Stop AIDS Now Or Else (SANOE). They (or we might say “we”) received extensive coverage in the Chronicle. The bridge blockade even got a one-year anniversary article. If the media can’t even remember its own history, can we trust it for our own?
This article certainly cannot hope to be a “history” of this pandemic. Just as we needed a counter vision to the Reagan administration of 1981, which did as little as they could possibly do to fight AIDS—it is still necessary to offer a radical vision of a pandemic that has left those 3 L.A. hospitals and is believed to have resulted in almost 43,000 u.s. AIDS cases in 2004 (CDC website) and up to 1,185,000 persons living with HIV in the u.s. at the the end of 2003 (CDC web site).
Despite the great success of both anti-viral and anti-pneumonia drugs which drastically reduced the number of deaths in the gay white male community, radicals should not accept a view of epidemics as microbial phenomena. An epidemic is a series of social conditions that allows a virus, bacteria, prion, or other “germ” to spread unchecked through communities.
Homophobia, racism, sexism and classism (as well as many other injustices) allowed AIDS to gain a foothold and proceed to gain ground around the world.
We support universal access to effective treatment for AIDS and all other diseases. We also support universal access to prevention. Opposing the long term social conditions that spread disease is not at odds with a sense of urgency in treating (and hopefully curing) the sick.
According to the AIDS 25 articles, the LGBT community no longer feels the urgency of AIDS. In this case, the media may be right. With talk of “Gay Marriage” everywhere, AIDS has taken a back seat. The early AIDS movement worked hard to be the “HOT” issue. Unfortunately the next stop after hot is left out in the cold.
A group of gay marketers conducted a survey showing that “finding a cure” was the 7th highest priority after marriage and various legal equality issues. Granted, the not-so-reliable gay marketing folks have produced surveys showing that lesbians are rich and that there are really A LOT of queer republicans – but it is hard to deny that AIDS as an issue seems to take up a lot less space in, say, the BAR, than it did a few years ago.
A 2004 media study by the Henry J Kaiser foundation found that only 3% of all news stories about AIDS from 1981-2002 were about racial minorities in the u.s. From 2001-2004, 51% of all new u.s. AIDS diagnoses were among African Americans.
As the American face of AIDS has changed from white gay man to African American woman, the media have jumped to the wrong conclusions (no surprise there). While male-to-male sex and injection drug use account for a majority of u.s. AIDS cases (thru 2004), the depictions of AIDS in black women reveal obstacles to understanding and fighting the pandemic in the 21st century.
In the last Vice Presidential election debates, neither republican Dick Cheney nor democrat John Edwards knew that “black women between the ages of 25 and 44 were 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their counterparts" [Slate, Oct 27, 2004]. Okay, neither party even knows that these women are dying. The media then jumps into the fray with the assumption that AIDS in Black women is caused by injection drug use, when they are at slightly less risk of IV drug use than white woman. But because ignorance and racism are never enough, homophobia must enter the scene.
Many articles, NPR radio shows, a book and an infamous Oprah episode of Black Men on the DL. The DL (the down low) is slang for “straight” men who secretly have sex with other men. Would a closet by any other name smell so musty? The DL concept which never received a major study, got so much press that some African American health experts no longer give interviews on the subject, not out of homophobia, but because they are just sick of an untested theory getting so much press.
Not all men who have sex with men withhold their sexual histories from their female partners. And, “non disclosers” were less likely to be HIV+ than so-called disclosers. So it appears that the secretive DL types are not HIV’s “bridge” to Black women.
One theory coming from the African American public health community is the role of incarceration. The u.s. has the highest incarceration rate in the world (followed by China and California). One study of North Carolina African American men found that a history of incarceration dramatically increased the number of concurrent sexual partners. Eighty percent of previously incarcerated men had multiple partners as compared to 43 percent of men had not been incarcerated. While people should have as many partners (with condoms) as they desire, the point is that the imprisoning black men is hazardous to Black women’s health.
Phil Wilson of the Black AIDS institute of Los Angeles told Slate magazine, “the prison industry of America is an almost exact replication of the mining industry in South Africa, where you take large groups of men from their families for an extended period of time.” This causes both the men and women to acquire new partners. When the men return to their community of origin, a possibility of infection occurs. The prison industrial complex leaves the community in a perpetual state of imbalance. This can result in heterosexual women sharing (wittingly or unwittingly) their partner with multiple women. Considering that South Africa has one of the world’s worst HIV/AIDS problems, these similarities deserve further attention.
It is necessary that the prison industrial complex be shut down. Meanwhile, education and condoms must be available for prisoners who choose to have sex inside. Protection and counseling must be available (by choice) for rape survivors in prison.
LGBT activists have been fighting racism in our community and our society at large. One example is the 2005 boycott of Badlands (a gay bar accused of racist practices) and LGBT contingents in pro-immigrant rallies this spring. Queers are also at the forefront of fighting AIDS in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe—and probably everywhere else.
The same right wing fundies that oppose all things queer and feminist here are working overtime to make sure that only abstinence is funded abroad. It is estimated that there were 38.6 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world in 2005. While international funding reached $8.3 billion in the fight against AIDS last year, it is estimated by UNAIDS that by 2008 another $20 billion will be needed. The struggle goes on and the longer it takes to fund prevention the more costly the battle—in lives and dollars.
The virus is still infecting us, queer and straight alike, but this society and its “values” are killing us. To paraphrase the immortal words of SANOE (or was it the Silicon Valley AIDS Coalition?), AIDS Still = Genocide. After 25 years, it is still necessary to Act Up, Fight Back and Fight AIDS!!!
Capturing the Moment: The Photojournalism of Rick Gerharter
A selection of color images dating from 1998 to the
most shot on assignment for the Bay Area Reporter.
GLBT Historical Society, 657 Mission Street #300 in the
Yerba Buena Arts District in San Francisco.
June 14 to December 31, 2006
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 1-5 pm
415-777-5455 or www.glbthistory.org.
Rebecca and I stood, silent and blindfolded, me in a black nylon sheath, she in an orange jumpsuit, while Carwil engaged people rolling their luggage toward the security checkpoint.
"Help us stop torture," he would say.
I could sense nearly everyone pausing, doing a double-take. Some of them would reassure each other, "It's not real." A few asked, "Is it real?" Carwil said that quite a number of people covered their children's eyes ‑ an interesting response to what my educator friends would call a "teachable moment."
It was the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, and while our friends were bar-b-queuing and playing beach volleyball, we dedicated members of Act Against Torture were hanging out at the Oakland airport, in hopes of spreading our message of resistance a little further via people entering our fair city from somewhere else or leaving it for parts unscathed by protest.
We expected to be challenged, maybe even harassed, possibly even detained by security public or private, and had done a fair amount of strategizing about what to do in that event. Who would think that in this paranoid day and age, you can do guerrilla theater in an airport? But in an hour and a half, a virtual parade of uniformed people, some with dogs, some with guns, walked past us without breaking stride. We gave out, or I should say Carwil gave out, over 200 fliers about torture in Guantanamo and Iraq, extraordinary rendition and abuse of immigrant detainees in U.S. prisons.
He also gave some mini-workshops about the right to free speech in airports, to people who wondered if they would be able to do such a thing in Miami or Seattle.
They might be, and then again, they might not.
Thank you, Hari Krishnas
The right to free speech, like every other right, was won with a fight. And the people who waged it were none other than everyone's favorite flower-power tambourine-janglers, the Society for Krishna Consciousness.
A website for would-be religious proselytizers explains that "In 1992, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns and operates the Kennedy, La Guardia, and Newark airports, adopted regulations prohibiting persons or groups from soliciting money or distributing literature within terminals. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness challenged the Port Authority's regulations on the grounds that the regulations deprived the Society's members of their free speech rights under the First Amendment. The trial court ruled in favor of the Society, holding that the airports were public forums and that the regulations were too broad. The Second Circuit of Appeals concluded that the airports were not public forums and that the ban on solicitations was reasonable." But a higher appellate court affirmed the trial court's ruling that the ban on distributing literature violated the First Amendment."
And thus were born the very first "free speech zones" – yes, the origin of those cages they put up outside democratic conventions and republikkan fundraising dinners, is right in everyone's favorite transit hubs. The basis for this ruling, says Carwil, is that airports and train stations and such like are very chaotic places anyway, where people don't have an expectation of quiet enjoyment.
Even so, free speech cannot be allowed to reign unfettered. It can be regulated as to "time, place and manner" and some – perhaps most – airport authorities play that to the hilt. The San Francisco Airport Commission has six pages of regulations governing everything from where you can throw your trash to which part of your chest the badge-which-must-be-worn-at-all-times is to be pinned to. Incidentally it also specifies that you cannot "grab at or pin flowers, candy or any other item on any member of the public at the Airport without his or her prior consent." So much for the plan to win folks over by pinning Nerds on them. The granting of permits for the exercise of our freedom lies with an all-powerful being called The Director. Interestingly, the document says you must apply in writing to The Director but gives no indication of where you find Him. Yes, I'm sure He's a Him.
In vain we searched the internet for the OAK version of this Bible, but none was to be found. On his last jaunt to SoCal on Southwest, Carwil encountered some religious pamphleteers and accosted them (a welcome change for them, I imagine) with some questions about the process. They told him they just show up. Just to be sure, we both tried calling the airport, were referred to someone who referred us to someone else who worked in something called Landside Operations. We both left messages for him but he didn't return our calls. The young woman who responded to my original call mentioned that they were rewriting their permit process "as we speak."
So we figured it wouldn't hurt to try it and as previously stated, it went off without a hitch. I had brought some little computer speakers and a CD player and we were able to broadcast the full hour of "This American Life" dedicated to Guantanamo (if you haven't heard it, you really want to; it's available free at http://audio.wbez.org/tal/310.m3u).
Being in self-imposed sensory deprivation (which is, I am sure, nothing like having it thrust upon you) was a very profound experience for me, and Rebecca said the same. At some point, I slipped into a deep reverie and started thinking about all the other things I could do in the Free Speech Zone, like tell unsuspecting travelers about how the U.S. and Israel are strangling the Palestinian economy. I decided I wanted to quit my job and be a full-time airport fanatic.
Two days later, on Memorial Day itself, Sasha, Sarah, Josie and I went back out to OAK to catch the people returning from their holiday getaways. This time we didn't even discuss what to do if we were interfered with by any security, because why would we be? We confidently went over to the table they considerately provide, under a sign proclaiming boldly, "The people at this table do not work for the airport" and Josie and I set up the literature while Sarah and Sasha changed into prisoner garb.
No sooner had they returned, I hadn't even finished tying their hands and feet together, than a security guard was asking Josie, "Who gave you permission to be here?"
I explained that we had called for the permit, but not been able to reach anyone. He called a woman from Landside Operations who seemed to take an instant dislike to us, unless she just dislikes everyone. She gave me her name as "Patricia." She said, "You have to leave, you don't have authorization."
I asked who was in charge, and she said she was. But I had overheard her talking about a manager, so I suggested that I'd like to talk to that person. Before too long a big man with a soft voice showed up, so I went into my rap again. He was nicer and mellower than his colleague, but no more yielding on the issue of the permit.
I kept insisting that we were there for an hour and a half on Saturday and had no problem and made no problem. The security guard said that was impossible.
"But what's the problem?" I asked. "We are not bothering anyone, just trying to give out literature."
"The problem is that you don't have authorization," the woman snapped. "I told you that six times. Why do I have to keep telling you the same thing?"
I asked if they couldn't give us the authorization right then. They all shook their heads. "There's a procedure and you didn't follow it, so you have to go."
I suggested they give us half an hour, and then we would leave. They refused. At that point, I vowed to myself that we would be there for at least 35 minutes.
They called the police, but unfortunately for them, these police were not very interested in making a scene. The sergeant I talked to for a long time ended up telling me that the Port of Oakland, which owns the airport, charges them rent to be there protecting their facility, so maybe that's why they weren't so worked up about our violation of the mysterious permit process.
Sergeant X came to tell me we had to leave. I objected, but it's a free speech area, and if you can't get permission to use it, what kind of free speech is that? I threw around my newly acquired knowledge of Society for Krishna Consciousness v. Lee, thinking that I sounded very official. He wasn't impressed.
"You aren't an attorney and neither am I, so frankly, neither of us knows the first thing about what we are talking about," he said.
"How do you know I'm not an attorney?" I asked. He didn't seem to think that was even worth dignifying with an answer, but hey -- why is it so obvious I'm not an attorney? I think I look just as respectable my friends who are attorneys.
Naturally, all the commotion made people pay a lot more attention to us. Some of them seemed a little hesitant to walk past, thinking, I guess, that with cops and prisoners and everything, it might be some kind of crime scene. Patricia said into a radio, "They have to leave, they're frightening people."
I managed to keep them arguing for more than the half hour I had originally asked for, but when the Sergeant started talking about handcuffs and Santa Rita, we thought it was a good time to start packing up. By that time, Josie had given out all the fliers we had left. Darrell and Patricia, the Landside Ops people, escorted us out of the building. Sasha had changed out of her jumpsuit, and she became a guard, leading Sarah, who was still blindfolded. People would turn around and stare, and I would give them little information cards. At one point they all flew out of my hands, and I had to stop and gather them up. Our escorts were very unhappy about how much time we were taking leaving. I heard Darrell complain into his radio, "They already got more than thirty minutes."
Sergeant X didn't like our chances of getting a permit, even if we did manage to get through to the person who grants them. "I have to tell you, when you finally get through to someone, I think you're going to hit the same wall," he said.
He knew what he was talking about.
I called Landside Ops several more times and only got a voicemail. Then I got a message telling me the voicemail was full. I called the number Sgt. X had given me for him at the police station, and only got a voicemail there too, telling me that if it was an emergency, I could call 911, otherwise, leave a message. I left one, but my friendly sergeant didn't call back.
Finally I found an email form on the OAK website for questions that aren't answered in their FAQs. I filled it out, "How do I get a permit for your free speech area." I got an email back the very next day, from a woman named Joanne, saying, "I didn't know we had a free speech area, but if you give me more information, I'll try to find out for you." I called Landside Ops again and actually reached someone, who told me the guy I needed to talk to was Ralph Hill. He was supposed to be back from vacation that day, she said, but he hadn't shown up. She expected him later. I left him another voicemail, and another the next day. I emailed Joanne back, telling her that Ralph was the guy in charge, just in case anyone else ever asked. She responded by saying she had found that out too, and here's his email. He never returned my calls, but did respond to my email, saying "Send me your address and I'll send you an application."
I sent him my address. I didn't get the application. After a week, I emailed again. His assistant responded that she had sent the application the day before. Unfortunately, that was the day before I moved. So I am still waiting for the application. I have a sneaking suspicion, that they were busy rewriting it. I'm curious to see how they manage to specify that we can't do what we want, without getting themselves in trouble with the Hari Krishnas. They obviously cannot say, "You can't wear orange clothing and act weird."
Want to participate in future Act Against Torture outreach and actions? www.ActAgainstTorture.org
It will come as no news to UV’s faithful readers that the World Pride Jerusalem (WPJ) event is finally happening this August in Jerusalem. WPJ was put off for a year due to the settler riots and other unrest that was anticipated in conjunction with israel’s pull out from Gaza. But it is apparently going forward this year, despite the extreme crisis in Palestinian communities caused at least in part by the withholding of customs revenues by israel and economic aid by the u.s. and europe.
In 2003, InterPride, an international group of coordinators of Pride events voted to hold the second World Pride event in Jerusalem in 2005. (The first was in Rome in 2000.) The proposal for WPJ had originally been made in 2002, but was turned down, because of “security concerns.” After substantial arm-twisting, Jerusalem Open House’s (JOH) proposal was accepted in 2003. San Francisco Pride has officially remained neutral on WPJ. Current SF Pride Board President Joey Cain, speaking as an individual, said that he opposed holding the event in Jerusalem. “A World Pride event should unite people, not be divisive,” he said recently.
QUIT! (with LAGAI in tow) was the first queer group to openly oppose holding the “love without borders” event in a city divided not only by a border, but by a 25 to 30 foot concrete wall, complete with armed watch posts, and checkpoints. We made up rainbow bumper stickers “No Pride in Occupation – Boycott World Pride Israel” in time for the demonstrations at the republican national convention in September 2004. That fall we talked with various groups and people in Israel/Palestine and u.s. In January 2005, we started a website and put out an open letter to LGBTIQ groups calling for a boycott on travel to WPJ. Our initial endorsers were other radical queers we know and love, like Queers for Peace and Justice, and Queers for Palestine, as well as other Palestine solidarity groups like the Middle East Children’s Alliance, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee – San Francisco, and Jews for a Free Palestine. All endorsers signed on to a statement supporting “the rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and other queer-identified (LGBTIQ) people to love and live in freedom, and to demonstrate publicly to demand their/our rights.”
So now here we are, two full years after blue star pr handed out 10,000 DVDs at SF Pride in 2004 promoting WPJ, and this is the last UV we will put out before the event. We’re certainly ready to be doing something else!.
We started the campaign not because we thought we could put a stop to WPJ, but because we were appalled that a bunch of mostly u.s. and european queers would be crossing an international picket line to party in land that had been wrenched from the indigenous people there, and which is still in dispute. We thought the campaign for a boycott would create some discussion in queer communities about what’s going on in Jerusalem, the occupied territories, and israel. We hoped it would create more awareness in queer communities of the international boycott and divestment campaign, and it would make queer participation in that campaign more visible. We wanted to combat the oft-repeated lie that israel is the “only democracy in the middle east,” and is a “haven” for queers in the area. We started the campaign because we really and truly believe that the liberation of queers can only be accomplished with the liberation of Palestine, as the liberation of Palestine can only be accomplished with the liberation of queers.
A lot has happened in the past two years. Individuals and groups have signed on to the call (to see a list, go to www.boycottworldpride.org). We’ve been getting over 300 hits a day on our website. Dalit Baum, who has been visiting the Bay Area from israel, and is a co-founder of the LGBTIQ radical Israeli anti-occupation group Black Laundry, has been doing a lot of speaking about WPJ, justice for Palestine, and the myth that Israel is queer-friendly. Some groups didn’t endorse the boycott, but took positions opposing WPJ. One was a New York City coalition, No Pride in Occupation, which steadfastly refused to even communicate with QUIT!, and did a lot of sotto voce QUIT!-bashing. Still, when WPJ was postponed in 2005, they held a press conference demanding that InterPride move World Pride.
Last fall, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) organized a forum on WPJ at the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force’s “Creating Change” conference in San Francisco. Mindy from QUIT! was one of the invited speakers. Interestingly enough, by the time of the conference, all of the speakers, except a woman from Jerusalem Open House who was brought to the conference to promote WPJ, raised serious problems with holding the event in Jerusalem, and many endorsed the boycott. Few in the audience supported WPJ, although Julie Dorf, a founder of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), said she doesn’t support the boycott of israel because it doesn’t “have legs.” At that event a couple of people announced that JVP and Global Exchange were going to have a “reality tour” to WPJ, which would involve meeting with Palestinian queers and seeing the wall. The two groups, on further reflection, decided against the plan.
When we met with the coordinator of JOH’s Palestinian
Program in early 2005, we asked her if JOH would be demanding that israel
open the checkpoints in order to allow queers from the occupied territories and
neighboring countries to attend. JOH has never done that. This spring, IGLHRC
made a public statement that they will not be attending WPJ. “IGLHRC
recognizes that many LGBTI people in the region who wish to attend World Pride
2006, named “Love without Borders,” will be unable to do so due to travel
restrictions and conditions that limit mobility and participation. IGLHRC
condemns the homophobic statements made by Christian, Muslim and Jewish
religious leaders in connection with World Pride 2006. A basic tenet of human
rights is to embrace human rights for all regardless of sexual orientation,
gender identity or expression and/or religion. While IGLHRC will not be
participating in World Pride 2006, we support the work of LGBTI and human rights
organizations which embrace the indivisibility of human rights and we will
continue to work with national and international partners to advance the global
cause for the full enjoyment of human rights by all. IGLHRC encourages all human
rights organizations and individuals who choose to participate in World Pride
2006 to engage in active discussion about the denial of human rights of all
people in the region as well as LGBTI communities in Israel and the Occupied
Territories.” IGLHRC also gave its annual Celebration of Courage Award to
Rauda Morcos, co-founder of the Palestinian lesbian organization ASWAT (see
article this page).
This Monday (June 21) there will be a radio show on WBAI
(Pacifica Radio in New York City) where Rauda and Palestinian queer activist
Farris Wahbeh are interviewed about WPJ. A group of queers in Toronto is
planning a festive boycott-world-pride presence at their Pride parade later this
QUIT! has two more things planned before WPJ – an Estee Slaughter giveaway at SF Pride of 5000 Realityfold Sleep Masks (“Make the Occupation Disappear”), and Debasement, a dance party to benefit ASWAT and the Lebanese queer group Helem, on July 14. Debasement is being organized by QUIT! and the Queeruption Benefit Collective.
Even though we didn’t use butcher paper or do a power analysis to plan the world pride boycott, we consider our work to have been far more successful than we would have thought. (Maybe if we would have used the butcher paper, we would have been less surprised.) We were amazed that IGLHRC, for example, chose not to attend WPJ, and mentioned in its reasoning, the movement restrictions that would prevent queers in the area from attending. The boycott has gotten a lot of coverage in queer and alternative media, and it is now widely recognized that queers are not united behind WPJ.
We know that there are already plans to lock-down the Palestinian communities for the “security” of people attending World Pride, and we think that InterPride and JOH should condemn any repression of Palestinians in their name. Despite the organizers’ attempts to put out a party-like atmosphere, Jerusalem, and the west bank in general, is no party right now. We know that right-wing Israeli’s attacked Jerusalem Pride last year, and several people were injured. We know that Israel’s secret police, the Mossad, has a history of conducting terrorist violence and making it look like it was done by Arabs. We also know that groups of Palestinians are in armed conflict with each other right now, brought on by the general political and economic crisis there. We know that there is great suffering in Palestine right now. We know it only takes a small group of people bent on violence to cause a lot of damage.
Like other queers, we are hoping that no harm will come to people attending WPJ. We also hope that any queers who ignore the growing consensus and ross the picket line, will NOT wear their Realityfolds the whole time they are there. We hope they will look around and see the suffering and oppression that is in plain sight, and leave with a better understanding of what “Love Without Borders” would really look like.
This year, the International Lesbian and Gay Human
Rights Commission (IGLHRC) gave the Felipa de Souza Award to Rauda Morcos from
ASWAT, a Palestinian lesbian group, at their Celebration of Courage award dinner
in New York and San Francisco in May.
Rauda and another member of Aswat spoke in Berkeley on
May 31 about their work. Speaking as a lesbian and feminist, Rauda first
explained that she had been unaware that the hall she had been invited to speak
at was a church. She said that she did not usually do her politics in religious
places, neither mosques, nor churches, nor synagogues, but that she had decided
to go ahead with this program out of respect for Women in Black.
When asked about ASWAT’s position on World Pride,
which is scheduled to be held in August 2006 in Jerusalem, Rauda said the
I would like to start with the International Women In Black conference, and I think it was very challenging time for ASWAT, to start from that last year. So in the West Bank there was supposed to be a workshop that I and Lepa from Belgrade were supposed to cofacilitate about, of course, lesbianism. And the conference was in the east side of Jerusalem. Now of course, when I got the phone call from – I don’t even remember from whom - do you want to facilitate the workshop with Lepa, I said of course, it’s my pleasure, it’s my honor, and then I realized that the conference was in East Jerusalem. I was definitely shocked, the first workshop for lesbianism in East Jerusalem - the shock didn’t really last long because I started hearing a lot of problems about this workshop. This specific workshop was a very problematic one. The organizers from the Jewish side were saying that the Palestinian women didn’t want to have the workshop in East Jerusalem so the organizers from the East Jerusalem side, the Palestinian women, were saying that they didn’t know about it and that it was forced on them. So in between these two voices, I had to find a response. I don’t want to say who was right and who was wrong, who was lying, who was not lying. I think both of them were wrong because they were fighting. But I had to think because anything I would say, I would open my mouth, it would be the decision for the whole conference as if I was the representative for the whole conference, and if I open my mouth and speak, that would be ASWAT’s position. The same with World Pride.
We were not that much organized then, but I have to find a quick and fast decision, I wrote to the email, to my friends, to ASWAT, to see what should I do? So in ASWAT we decided no, we’re not going to have this workshop. End of discussion. But of course to say we’re not going to have this workshop is not going to give people an answer why. Why don’t we want to have it? And why was because we believe, first of all, it’s not easy for us to be silenced. So we can either take it as we’re being silenced and mourn it, or we can say at least there is a discussion, we’re being asked to wait in a way, but at the same time, it’s very important that we are not enforcing our voices on anybody. So in the end we decided we are not going to have this workshop. It was very difficult for us as lesbians, to be asked to shut up, but at the same time, we understood that it’s our community. The Palestinian community deserves their people to decide for them. So ASWAT is there and we’re creating the public debate. it’s on our time, it’s on our scale, we’re not following the western scale in many ways and I don’t think we should. We have our own scale, it’s the eastern scale, respecting all the traditions and all the political things that pressurize us and including the occupation, including the conservative society, including our background, etc.
So the thing with World Pride, it’s very difficult. So last year when we were asked what’s our position for the World Pride, we said, oh, it’s interesting, an international celebration for the LGBTQI community, but do we really fit into that LGBTQI community? Not really. For many reasons, not because we’re only Palestinian but also because the “international LGBTQI groups” is not very inclusive. Unfortunately, it’s not also political. The international lesbian and gay groups have not taken a stand in any political situation for the last couple years and this is very embarrassing. So for us in ASWAT, we had to decide to do something, to say something. So last year we thought, we will do an alternative parade to the wall. Instead of marching in the streets of Jerusalem and celebrating, we will march to the wall and we will invite many groups to join us.
And last year the World Pride was cancelled, because of the withdrawal from Gaza, and it gave us more time to think. But to be honest with you, it wasn’t really our priority to decide whether to join or not to join. And that’s why a week before I came here, I was like begging, I need to have an answer. Like I need something. because everybody was worried what’s the position of ASWAT, what do we stand for? And you know, it’s very interesting because if I draw to you how ASWAT works, we don’t really give a shit. Really. Literally, I’m sorry for the language, but it’s exactly, we don’t care. World Pride what? World shame? We are in a different world. We are in a different time. And our time is not really what is about World Pride. On the other hand, the rest of the world is worried, what’s ASWAT’s status, you know why? Because they don’t have the guts to have a position themselves. So they want this ASWAT to choose for them.
So anyway, we chose for you guys. and our position was not to participate in any event or any program during the World Pride. Not in the alternative actions and not in the official actions. And I have to, I think it’s very important to explain how we came to this decision. and you know it might sound as it’s very easy but it’s not. Because we have the no, but it’s not easy to get there. So we have to put ASWAT in the focus, ASWAT as the representation of the Palestinian gay women’s group. We are a small group, in a way, but we are the only lesbian/gay group in the region. So anything we decide has a different meaning. So if we decide to boycott, it means we are boycotting our partners in the Jerusalem Open House[JOH], the Palestinian project. And if we boycott, we’re taking the political stand of boycotting and we don’t usually work in boycotting things. This is not our mandate. So we dropped the boycott.
And if we join, how does that look? For the Palestinian gay groups, for the Palestinian gay individuals within the community, with the Arab gay groups around us, how does it look for them if we are joining World Pride? And it didn’t look really good. So we had to find a way out of this trap and it’s a huge trap. Because we didn’t want to lose our partnership with the Palestinian project in the JOH. At the same time we don’t agree with having World Pride in Jerusalem, and not in such a difficult time. And the reasons for that were, of course, we have, since we are working in a feminist group, we have the consensus, and a process, as we are all familiar. So our process was to come to a decision, and in the end, we had the first woman to use the veto. God bless her. ..I feel like such a priest standing here.. she said I can’t live with ASWAT, I can’t imagine, and live with ASWAT being part of any event during the World Pride. As a Palestinian living inside Israel or in the West Bank, I can’t live with this, so we had to compromise...
We have many members of ASWAT coming from the West Bank. So even if we want to participate in the World Pride, they can’t be part of it. Why is that? Because during the international events in Jerusalem and during the World Pride this year, there will be an increasing number of checkpoints. So many Palestnians, even if they want to join, they cannot participate, because of the checkpoints and the closure that will be there. so we now know. So during the World Pride there will be curfew and closure, almost for two weeks, to secure the visitors to the Jerusalem World Pride. And this is one of the reasons and the most important reason. Other reasons were for having an international event, in a place that not all the people can come. So many groups of gays and lesbians that we are in touch with from Arab countries around Israel cannot enter Israel. A group from Lebanon that we are in touch with cannot even join. And from Egypt and from North Africa, from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan and many other places. So we thought that if they want to hold an international gay and lesbian event, it has to be in a country that there is at least peace in the region. And that was the second reason. The third reason was because Jerusalem is the heart, the core of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. And that wasn’t a very smart decision to have it in a place where people are still fighting about. So we see these reasons were enough for us to decide that we don’t want to participate in such an event. and our responsibility as gays, as a lesbian group, as a queer group is to speak these words out, for all the groups around us. And to ask directly that we cannot be free as lesbians or gays if we’re not free as Palestinians. So we are asking all the groups to do these connections and to work on addressing the connection between all kinds of oppressions. We cannot be okay with women and not be okay with native Americans. We cannot be okay with gays and not be okay with Palestinians. So you’re either racist or you’re not. you’re either discriminating or you’re not. We are all these identities and we don’t want to give up one of them. So these were all the reasons.
ASWAT describes its mission as, “to serve as a
Palestinian gay women’s group where we
may express ourselves, discuss gender and sexuality, define our feminism, and
address the conflict experienced by us between our national and gendered
identities. The ASWAT group provides a safe space for any Palestinian woman who
identifies as lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual, transgender or inter-sexual,
where we can break our individual silence through dialogue, self-education,
healing and activism. In addition, we strive to generate social change in order
to meet the needs of one of the most silenced and oppressed communities in
Israel. We work to reach out to Palestinian and Jewish communities in Israel,
and also to collaborate with other like minded institutes, groups and
individuals in order to combat the multilayered discrimination we face and to
promote women rights.”
UV thanks Lisa Detmer of the KPFA Women’s Magazine, for providing us with her recording of this event. An interview with Rauda will be broadcast on KPFA.
“It’s an exciting day today” said our guide, as we were being shuffled into the elevator of the US embassy in Manila. "We just caught a terrorist."
In fact, “we” had just paid half a million dollars for said man, who had been turned in by others.
“Alleged terrorist,” we replied. “ No, he’s a terrorist. And you know it’s quite exciting because the Filipinos are so reluctant to turn them in. And I can say that cause I’m married to a Filipino.” The meeting went downhill from there.
We were six American women, four lawyers and two human rights workers, in the Philippines for a fact finding mission on the spate of killings and repression that was targeting the progressive movements.
The lawyers represented the National Lawyers Guild, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
We met with women’s organizations and women targeted by the government. We heard testimony from the relatives of victims. We met with legal representatives and discussed the ongoing "rebellion" cases against the progressive members of Congress (the "Batasan 6"). We also met with the government Human Rights Commission and as stated, the US Embassy. The attorneys asked for a meeting with the President, but that request was met with silence.
Our delegation was sponsored by GABRIELA Network and hosted by GABRIELA – the largest women’s alliance in the Philippines and its electoral wing, GABRIELA Women’s Party. Our goals were to focus on the impact of the repression on women in particular, to support Liza Maza, the GWP representative in congress and to show that there are people outside the Philippines who are concerned about the situation.
The attorneys are going to write a report, which will be distributed, along with a DVD in a month or so. But since UltraViolet and Out Of Time have run stories in the past about the Philippines; it seemed a good idea to put out some preliminary findings.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), taking leadership from her good friend, George Bush, wants to crush the left. Using the war on terror as a pretext, she has developed a mutli-faceted strategy that is made up of these components:
--Assassinations and disappearances
--Curtailment of civil liberties.
--Charging congressional representatives and other organizers with rebellion
--Relocating entire communities to "strategic hamlets" surrounded by military forces
--Military occupations and harassment of communities
--Plans for changing the constitution.
The Strategy Is Murder and Assassination
Since 2001 over 680 people have been assassinated in politically motivated killings. Of these, about 250 were organizers for the Party Lists: sectoral political parties elected from the population at large. The progressive party lists are: Bayan Muna (People First) which has three representatives, Anakpawis (Toiling Masses – Labor and Peasants) which has two representatives and GABRIELA Women’s Party whose representative is Liza Maza, the former Secretary General of GABRIELA.
73 of those murdered were women, making the Philippines one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women organizers. More than half of the murdered women were associated with GWP and Gabriela.
The killings have been carried out by a combination of military and paramilitary forces. Lately, the most favored method is drive by shootings by hooded men on motorcycles.
These assassinations have been going on for five years, but in the last six months the rate of murder has increased to the level of one to three a week.
Women killed range from grandmothers to young human rights workers, from peasant leaders to fisherfolk, from women organizing against violence to those working for an end to trafficking and sexual harassment.
The numbers can overwhelm and numb. Although, hard to read, it’s important to put human names and faces to the facts. Here are a few:
On January 17, 2006, Nanay Perla Rodriguez, age 61, and her family had just finished eating supper Nanay Perla, who was carrying her one year old granddaughter, was about to give water to her 95 year old mother, when a man suddenly came inside her house. The man grabbed Perla’s arm and shot her, as she was about to put down her granddaughter. The bullet entered the top of her head and exited at her nape. She slumped to the floor and was dead.
Michelle, her 14-year-old granddaughter was at the back of the house. She heard a gunshot and raced inside to see a stocky man in civiilian clothes wearing a baseball cap slung low on his face walk casually out of their home. Another man joined him and the two jumped on their motorcycle and sped off.
Perla had been a peasant mass leader and member of several peasant organizations. She had been targetted by the military for her activities and accused of being a member of the New People’s Army. Other members of her community had been offered favors if they would kill her themselves.
Perla lives in a village where the military is conducting their Re-engineered Special Operations Team (RSOT). The RSOT is a feature of the military’s counter-insurgency program, where members are supposedly integrated into the “fabric of the society” (for a U.S. equivalent, see the MOCHA column). In reality, this only serves as intelligence gathering and targeting of individuals, families and in some cases whole communities.
On April 3, 2006, Inday Estorba-Cunado, age 30, was accused of being a communist sympathizer and supporter. The mother of two small children, Inday was on the staff of a local Women’s Development Center. She was the local coordinator of the GWP. A member or a military intelligence network shot her at point blank range.
Eden Marcellena, age 31, was the regional leader of the human rights group, Karapatan. She had two small daughters. Eden was shot in April 2003. Elena Mendiola, 52 was a coordinator for Bayan Muna. Two gunmen on a motorcycle wearing black hoods shot her on May 11, 2006.
In its 2005 annual human rights report KARAPATAN recorded 874 cases of human rights violations victimizing 99,011 individuals, 14,302 families in 288 communities for the period of January to November 30 this year, making 2005 possibly the worst year for human rights in the post-Marcos era.
The Philippines is now the most dangerous place on earth for journalists (even more than Iraq!) 42 media people have been killed under the Arroyo government. Even journalists who try to be “balanced” are labelled as communists and threatened. As reporter Marilou Cadelina-Manar put it: “I realized, no matter who you are, if you defend the rights of the oppressed, you will be accused as a rebel, a communist. My question to the Army is, since when have the issues on human rights. ancestral domain and other people's issues, become exclusive to progressive groups and the NPA-CPP-NDF? I told them even the Church defends these issues because these are basic principles and are universal.”
Not one person has been convicted in all these killings. Instead the government insists that the left is killing itself! No one believes these lies inside the country, but they make for popular propaganda outside.
2006 promises to be even more deadly
What is happening in the Philippines is a story only too familitar. It is one of peoples needs versus those of globalizaiton and empire. In essence it’s a fight the peasants, workers and urban poor, which make up 85% of the population and the rich multinationals and the United States (represented by the government This is also a fight for people to retain their own resources. The Philippines is a rich country and yet is dependent on labor export for income. The demand for land is basic in the fight for national democracy.
There has been a thriving revolutionary movement for almost 40 years, led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with its New People’s Army. There has also been a huge legal and public opposition movement. The Philippine and US governments claim that one Muslim group, Abu Sayef (which many believe was started by the CIA), is part of the "Al Qaeda network of terrorism." The CPP and NPA are on the world terrorist list, as is their founder, Jose Maria Sison. Now, the US and Philippine government want to do away with the legal opposition as well. Getting rid of the party lists is one way. Killing and intimidating the mass movement is another.
On June 17, GMA vowed to crush the movement once and for all. She ordered the release of one billion pesos ($20,000,000) to be given to the military in order to eliminate the leftist movement in the next two years. This will be in addition to the 5 billion pesos the military receives annually to upgrade its equipment.
Colonel Palparan who is known as the “butcher,” has also been given free reign to wipe out the insurgency in Central Luzon.
State of Emergency and the Batasan 6
On February 24, 2006, the eve of the 20th anniversary of the People’s Power movement that ousted hated dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, GMA declared a State of Emergency. She claimed that there was a "right-left conspiracy" to topple her government. Civil liberties were suspended, the media was put on notice and one newspaper was shut down. Congressman Crispin Beltran, 73 years old, from Anakpawis was picked up on a warrant from 1985 and taken into custody. The five other progressive congresspeople, Liza Maza, Satur Ocampo, Rafael Mariano, Teodoro Casino and Joel Virador, fearing for their lives, were granted shelter in the Congress and remained there for almost two months, sleeping on the floor to avoid arrest. Collectively they are known as the Batasan 6,
Fifty-one others were placed on a list saying that they too, would be charged with rebellion. They include Jose Maria Sison, long time activists and leaders of the mass organizations such as BAYAN and GABRIELA.
We were sitting in court listening to one of the Batasan 6’s lawyers tell the judge that the naming of individuals was tantamount to putting out a death list. . Five minutes later people’s cell phones started going off: A former Bayan Muna leader on the wanted list had been shot by gun-toting hooded men riding a motorcycle. (There was no comment from either the judge or the prosecution.)
Crispin Beltran remains in custody. The courts just found that there was probable cause in his case.
All these cases serve to tie up the movement and prevent people from doing their work. The cases are also extremely expensive (one transcript page costs $2.00) and funds needed elsewhere have to go to keep people out of jail.
The party lists are an alternative to Gloria and the status quo. Most of the congresspeople in the Philippines (like most of the congresspeople in the US) represent monied interests, the old families and corporations. The party lists actually represent the people who elected them. Liza Maza has succeeded in passing a critical Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and an Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act. She is working to pass many other measures of concern to women, including a law introducing divorce for the first time.
(The targetting of Liza comes at a particular moment. Last year the Philippines exported one million workers (75% women) to over 68 countries. The largest number become domestic workers, the second largest number enter the sex trade. The remittances from these women are fueling the economy. Without them there would be no growth, there would be no money at all! In effect, the Philippine government is pimping its own women.)
"Oplan Bantay Layan"
Oplan Bantay Layan is the government’s game plan. One military official calls it the “end-game strategy,” geared towards crushing all rebel groups and paving the way for national development before GMA's term ends in 2010. The goal is to deliver the final blow to a 37-year insurgency that no president from Ferdinand Marcos to Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada was able to tame.
Oplan Bantay Layan is the fourth counter-insurgency master plan adopted by the government in 25 years.
The courts and battlefields will now extend to the entire countryside. Oplan Bantay Layan, explicitly states that soldiers should see no difference between combatants and non-combatants. This is in direct contradiction to all international law which clearly delineates between the two.
Oplan Bantay Layan also calls for the hamletting and displacement of communities “suspected of being NPA support grounds.” Like Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, this has meant that families and villages have been harassed, displaced and sometimes killed.
We visited former rice farmers from Samar, an island to the south East, who had been repeatedly threatened by the military. When one family member was murdered, the rest fled to an area south of Manila which they found dry and unwelcoming. The families were eking out a living farming eggplant. Their children couldn’t go to school because they couldn’t get their records. The military was again nearby and they were fearful that they would have to move again.
Marie Enriguez, the leader of KARAPATAN told us that they had just managed to secur the safety of 200 other families from Samar. “At first we put them in a convent, but the military followed them. That didn’t even happen under Marcos. Now we have a place for them but we need money for their food.” When I asked how much it would cost, she said “About $5,000 for three months, but I have no idea where we’ll get it. We’re so busy documenting the killings and trying to protect others that we have no time for fundraising, we really need the international community to help us.”
Now, Arroyo wants to change the constitution. This will be the fifth constitutional change since the Philippines became independent in 1946. The proposed Constitution Change (popularly known as the Cha-Cha) would revert to a parliamentary system. This would do away with the party lists and allow Gloria to remain in office past her designated one term. The cha-cha would also open the door to once again having permanent US bases on Philippine soil – something the US has been wanting for over a decade. The people of Okinawa want the US out, and the Philippines is the most strategic land in the area. If that weren’t enough, massive oil fields have been discovered in the south.
Women Keep Organizing.
The people keep organizing. As Rachel Lederman, one of the attorneys on the delegation put it: “Despite these dire circumstances, we could not help but be inspired by the optimism and unity of the Philippine left and by the dedicated Filipino human rights lawyers who persevere despite rampant judicial corruption and despite being shot at and a number of their colleagues killed. We were particularly awed by the large, well-organized, progressive women’s movement led by GABRIELA."
GABRIELA has founded the Mariposa Alliance (using the butterfly as a symbol of freedom) and is calling on women (and men) to support the people of the Philippines. WE hope to make this an international alliance in the coming months. We know that international pressure has an impact in the human rights cases. This is especially true in the Philippines.
There’s a lot more to say, but that will have to come in future articles. There is almost no news in the mainstream press – in fact there’s very little news in the alternative press. So it’s important for people to seek other venues. Here are some suggestions.
For main stream Philippine news: The
For human rights news: http://www.cp-union.org/stop-the-killings-in-phils
For GABRIELA and GWP: http://www.gabrielaphilippines.net
For information about actions and organizing in the US: GABRIELA Network: www.gabnet.org
Money is desperately needed: Please send to GABRIELA Network, 2543 18th St., #17, SF, CA 94110. If you want to (and can) make a large contribution, it can be tax deductible; to find out how, or for other information, contact email@example.com.
It seems that nothing good ever happens. And then millions of people around the country take to the streets and upset the president. Whatever superlative is used, most, largest, or whatever, still doesn’t convey the feeling brought on by demonstrations of immigrants.
Maybe the introduction of bills on immigration in congress was meant to distract public attention from war and other bad things. Maybe it is gratuitous racism. But if so, for the right wing is was a mistake. Because the right wing are so evil and rich, and well, racist, this will not be the end of their attempt to make life more miserable for immigrants.
Newspapers and dt.v. don’t acknowledge the racism which drives much of this discussion. Talking heads mutter about some line between legal and illegal immigrants, and don’t worry that this artificial line was drawn by a u.s. government that doesn’t have a problem with dropping bombs on babies. These fools think two wrongs make The Right.
White california’s associations with immigrants have been consistently nasty. Discriminations against immigrants from China was the law. African-american immigrants are last hired and first fired. The descendants of refugees from the potato famine and the dust bowl call themselves the minutemen and roam the borders like the kkk.
Mainstream queer types, the nice ones who want to get along the with the Right straights have a single issue politics that actually excludes singles. This take ignores human rights of all people. The spouse of a citizen may emigrate to the u.s. So, since queer people are no different from straight people, queer people should be allowed to enter if they are married.