GABRIELA USA demands immediate justice to find Joseph Scott Pemberton guilty as charged on the vicious hate crime and killing of Filipino trans woman, Jennifer Laude, last October 2014 in Olongapo, Philippines. Last Monday August 24, U.S. Marine Corporal Joseph S. Pemberton admitted to choking Jennifer Laude until she stopped moving, but claims she was still alive when he left the hotel room. Autopsy reports show she died from asphyxiation by drowning. Pemberton claimed he acted in self defense as he was surprised to find that Jennifer was a “man” and feared being “raped” by him. This does not excuse the soldier's malicious intent to harm and ultimately take the life of Jennifer Laude. His admission to choking her only exposes Pemberton’s intent to kill Jennifer upon realizing Jennifer’s transgender identity.
The killing of Jennifer Laude continues to shed light on the systemic violence and brutal attacks against transgender persons under an imperialist, patriarchal culture that dismisses the dignity and rights of trans people. Mass organizations under GABRIELA USA remain vigilant in demanding Justice for Jennifer Laude and an end to all hate crimes and state violence against transgender people.
According to Irma Bajar, Solidarity Officer of GABRIELA USA, “There have been 17 reported killings of trans women of color in the U.S.” She goes on to say, “We continue to witness violence against trans people escalate under various forms of state repression including militarism, police brutality, increased detentions, and in the prisons. We must acknowledge that Jennifer Laude’s murder is a product of U.S. militarization in the Philippines and anti-trans violence. It is our duty to educate and organize our communities to love and protect trans women here and abroad who regularly suffer systemic violence and hate crimes due to imperialism which further perpetuates patriarchal systems of oppression.”
Ongoing US military occupation of the Philippines has persistently violated the rights of women, who are exploited for sexual and labor purposes, especially in areas where U.S. military bases are still occupying Philippine lands. Jennifer’s murder further exposes the human rights violations amplified by U.S. militarization in our home country. Under the Justice for Jennifer Laude campaign, GABRIELA USA and BAYAN USA alliance organizations demand that U.S. troops get out of the Philippines. With the so called bilateral policies, such as the EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperative Agreement) and VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement), between the US and the Philippine government, there are no limitations to the number of troops to be deployed to the country nor is the duration of deployment specified. Therefore, unlimited number of troops can be deployed at any time without a particular reason or activity.
“Pemberton joins a long line of US military invaders and occupiers, and his guilt in the death of Jennifer Laude is loud and clear. His excuses are disgraceful, an insult to the life of Jennifer and the many Trans women who have to live in fear from men like Pemberton” states Valerie Francisco, Chairperson GABRIELA USA.
U.S. intervention continues to generate a climate of heinous crimes, injustice, and impunity within Philippine society. As militarization perpetuates continued violence against trans persons and so long as the state continues to protect perpetrators of hate crimes instead of upholding laws to protect the most marginalized and vulnerable in our communities, it is critical that we stand together in fighting for justice for victims and to demand truth and accountability.
News story courtesy of Gabriela USA