Twenty-six women representing eight countries gathered in Puerto Rico last February 19-25, 2012 to evaluate the impact of militarism, military contamination, imperialism and systems of oppression and exploitation based on gender, race, class, nationality and sexual orientation.
International Women’s Network Against Militarism
8th Gathering: “Forging Nets for Demilitarization and Genuine Security”
February 19-25, 2012 – Puerto Rico
The 8th Gathering of the International Women’s Network Against Militarism, that occurred on February 19-25, 2012, united 26 women representing 8 countries gathered in Puerto Rico. Delegates from the Philippines, Guahan (Guam), Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Hawaii, and the United States joined their counterparts in Puerto Rico to evaluate the growing military threat and develop strategies to counter the impact of militarism, military contamination, imperialism and systems of oppression and exploitation based on gender, race, class, nationality and sexual orientation.
First, we express our dissatisfaction and anger at the situation faced by our colleague from the Philippines, Corazón Valdez Fabros, who was denied entry into the U.S. despite the fact that she was issued a valid visa beforehand. No adequate explanation has been given to justify this violation of her freedom of movement.
Ms. Fabros is an internationally known and highly respected advocate, researcher, and expert on conflict resolution, democratization process, human rights and security. She is a regular speaker at international conferences and meetings, particularly in the Asia-Pacific, on peace building, nuclear disarmament, and environmental clean-up of former U.S. bases in the Philippines.
Although Ms. Fabros was issued a multiple entry visa last October, Delta Airlines was instructed by the Immigration and Border Protection to not let her board the flight leaving Manila en route to Puerto Rico on February 17, 2012. We are grateful that a U.S. representative of Puerto Rican descent, Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), is investigating and requesting an explanation.
As a result of the discussion at our meeting we declare the following:
The United States must demilitarize the Asia-Pacific region, clean up military environmental contamination, and compensate affected communities. Further, we advocate the creation of economies of peace rather than perpetual preparation for war.
We, delegates of the 8th Gathering of the International Women’s Network Against Militarism, have visited communities in Puerto Rico and are incensed at what we have learned about the commercial auction of land at the former Roosevelt Roads Navy Base and the exclusion of the people of Ceiba from future use and control of this land. We learned about the lack of cleanup and the ecologically hazardous detonation of unexploded ordnance used by the U.S. Navy on land and water on and surrounding the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. We condemn the recent federal court ruling in Boston that dismissed the lives and health claims of 7,000 Viequenses injured by the Navy presence. Furthermore, we denounce the precarious situation that Viequenses confront. The negligence of the government has caused a maritime crisis that severely affects their health and quality of life.
We oppose the repression and incarceration of people who fight for genuine peace and human rights. By unanimous resolution, we call on President Barak Obama to order the immediate release of Oscar López Rivera who has been unjustly imprisoned for almost 31 years. The U.S. Parole Commission recently denied his application for parole and ordered that he serve an additional 15 years in prison. By that time, he will be 83 years old and will have been incarcerated for 45 years for politically motivated offenses where no one was hurt. We condemn the inequity in his treatment, compared to his co-defendants. He is now the only one of the 1980’s pro-independence prisoners still in prison.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has asserted that the U.S. military plans to remain in the Asia Pacific region as the primary center of its strategic positioning. We denounce the building of any new bases or military installations in the region. This includes the proposed Navy base at Jeju Island in South Korea that will house U.S. Aegis destroyers built at Bath Ironworks in Bangor (Maine), and will serve as a key component of the U.S. military’s ballistic missile defense system. We call for the immediate closure of Futenma Marine Air Corps Station (Okinawa) and adamantly oppose the plan to replace this base with a new heliport facility at Henoko. We denounce the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement and the deployment of U.S. forces to the Philippines, which violates the terms of the Philippines constitution. We are against the plans to move 4,700 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guahan. We object to the construction of a “Ballistic Missile Defense System,” berthing docks for nuclear aircraft carriers at Apra Harbor, and “firing range complex” on ancient Chamorro lands. In Hawai‘i, we oppose the expansion of military bases and activites. In particular, we oppose the use of Stryker Brigade tanks at Schofield Barracks (Lihue, O?ahu) and the proposed basing of 48 aircraft including the Osprey at Kaneohe Marine Corps Airstation (Mokapu, O?ahu), that will bring in 1,000 Marines and 1,000 of their dependents. We also oppose proposed training of these aircraft at Bellows Airforce Station (Waimanalo, O?ahu), Kalaupapa (Moloka?i) and P?hakuloa (Hawai‘i island). In all these locations, overwhelming numbers of local residents have used all available democratic means to dispute this military expansion that would destroy native cultural sites and cause contamination, overpopulation, over consumption of the islands’ limited resources.
Military training has a devastating impact on the environment and people’s health, leading to serious illness and early death. Failure to clean up the hazardous toxics caused by military operations is an environmental justice issue and reflects the racist belief that some people are more valuable than others. It also shows deep disrespect for the earth.
Therefore, we, the participants of the 8th Meeting of the International Women’s Network Against Militarism demand the cleanup of closed and current military bases and land used for military purposes in all our countries. This land must be returned to local community control. We demand full compensation to victims of military contamination, including Guahan downwinders of atomic testing in the Pacific, residents of Vieques and other communities of Puerto Rico, communities in the Philippines around former Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base. We also demand that the United States take full responsibility for the negative social impacts caused by the U.S. military presence in the region, in particular gender-based/sexual violence by US military personnel. Sexual crimes by US military personnel have occurred for many decades in the host communities, and they are often go unpunished. For example, Amerasian children born in the Philippines and abandoned by U.S. military fathers lack the support, care, and human rights that all children deserve.
We recognize that the current economic recession created by capitalism has created rising poverty, massive joblessness, and a lack of decent and affordable education and healthcare in the United States and its possessions and territories. We denounce the use of economic resources to further military activity. We denounce the disproportional recruitment of poor young people and young people of color to sustain senseless wars that only protect the interest of the wealthy. Instead, we call for an economy of peace, an economy that will support our communities in sustainable ways, with an emphasis on providing for basic human needs, health and wellness, solidarity, and respect for the land and all peoples.
February 25, 2012
San Juan, Puerto Rico