Sunday, June 7, 2009

Personal Reflections on the 7th International Women’s Network Against Militarism Meeting, San Francisco 2007

September 10-September 15, 2007
by Ellen-Rae Cachola
September 18, 2007

Note: This is the writers' personal notes written during the Sept. 10-15 IWNAM gathering in San Francisco. The entries reflect conversations, words and observations from women who shared spaces together during the gathering.

Communication is telling stories about community. The meeting is communication.
The hegemony of English language allows for communication across culture.
The structural differences between nations in the network that makes coming together more difficult than others. We were making connections with people’s stories allows for deeper understanding of own lands.

Building relationships across different cultures and nations was an act of resistance.
Our goal was to redefine what National Security means. We plan to go to UN through Commission on the status of Women – Armed Conflict and Women. We plan to use the
Internet and Website to carry our stories, access to campaigns and reports. We plan to educate through a Freedom School and educational kit on militarism, educate youth for counter-recruitment work.

Introduction: Pieces of words from Community Conversations

Okinawa sees that they are forced by Japan's national government to be dependent on bases. Bases are like a disease, killing inside and outside.

In Japan, bases are invisible. It creates a wound in Okinawa.
Japan is different from Okinawa so women have divided into each country. What is the responsibility of Japanese citizens (where do I belong?).

Puerto Rico/Vieques/Northern Mariana Isles, Hawaii
The colonization of language and land. Lose power. Restricted, lose where we come from. Volcano to regenerate female, to be fertile.

Internalized violence. Powerlessness, denial, complicity. Wound carried. Cultural amnesia of history. Violence for “progress”. Interpersonal, domestic, community nation are affected.

Seeking self-determination. Non-violent relations with family, community, with land. Shift priorities to what are human needs.

South Korea
Treated like criminals at customs even though they had visas. U.S. is a problem. No discrimination based on race. Want respect as human beings.

9/11/07 "Hidden in Plain Sight." Bus Procession that exposed military's impact in the Bay Area

Treasure island was used by the Navy.

Presidio is “jail” in Spanish.
Buffalo soldiers were African Americans who were drafted in the war.
Eradication of Native peoples in Bay Area by Europeans.
1846 – taken by the U.S.

Developed in 10 years as a shopping center. It used to be industrial with factories, dancehalls, bars, race track, a place of entertainment before the bridge was created.

The Ohlone people lived in villages in that area since 800 BC-1600.
Their shellmounds were sacred sites for burial and eating shells. They were 5 football fields wide. It was destroyed by development.

Corine is a Chumash – part of Indian People Organizing for Change. Their action is to dialogue and act together. Jonelle is a Shoshone. They face development issues, preservation of their sacred site and to get respect.

The development of Bay Street Mall, Emeryville culturally appropriates Ohlone culture by naming roads “Ohlone Way” and “Shellmound Way.” It maintains the profit making purpose of shopping malls. There were historical stone markers erected by the river. The Ohlone were displaced from their lands and placed into missions in San Jose and Oroyson. In 1848, Mexican War ended and California ceded to the U.S. In 1850, California became the 31st state. Alameda. 1911, Ohlone lived in villages in the East Bay. They were abandoned. There were 2,000 to 50,000 acres of Indian land in California. The way that the history is represented in those stone markers was trivial facts, rather than acknowledging that the history being presented continues to do violence against the same people.

The University is another site of violence. What knowledge is being taught to divide us from each other? Sometimes youth activists are driven away from home in pursuit of knowledge.

North Richmond
Kaiser Permanente was built to care for war ship builders. It took 4 days and 18 hours to build a warship. Women were employed too, such as Rosie the Riveter for industrial workforce during World War II. The ports were used to deploy to the Asia-Pacific. Military and Corporations, or the Military Industrial Complex. Poor economy because military causes dependency, abandons community.

Don – the tour bus driver
According to Don, in North Richmond, there are drugs and high poverty. Its not safe. Church. The community is predominantly African Americans. But he migrated out. Back in the 1990s, they used Point Malate for whaling and extracting the oil.

When we arrived at North Richmond to meet our guide, the community was on lock down because of a shooting that occurred ½ hour ago.

As I passed the N. Richmond neighborhood in our big shiny bus, the windows were barred or boarded up. Don mentioned the junkyard we passed as being there ever since he was young. The nursery that was across the street from the junkyard was cut down due to land being more valuable to development.

We arrived at the fenceline community, or the edge of polluting industries of refineries. Richmond is connected to Chevron. There are health issues such as breast cancer and asthma in the community. Mercury flows into the ocean. The EPA says that policy around the refinery is adequate, even though studies show that the air and water is toxic. Refinery made to look like part of the environment as the oil tanks are painted reddish brown. Aileen mentions that in the Philippines, oil tanks are painted as murals to be like decorations. Chevron pays no taxes to communities. Yes federal taxes, but they also received tax breaks and subsidies. The Green Party woman mayor received no money from Chevron or other corporations for her campaign.

Chevron dominates politics in Richmond. The dependency divided the community, pressuring people. Immigrant communities from Laos, Latin America, and Southeast Asia eat the fish because they are no signs to not do so. The security alerts not adequate in telling people to evacuate because not in their languages. Schools closed if there are accidents.

Dolly’s reflection from being at Chevron refinery:
Dolly is a Filipina activist, part of Metro Subic.
Her granddaughter has down syndrome and heart problems. No operation because no money. Toxics not cleaned. Employees not told of toxic issues. $70 billion investment from Hanjin, a Korean construction company, to build a toxic 2 x 300 coal fire terminal to burn more toxicity in the area. The U.S. waives responsibility to company. The Mutual Defense Act to provision clean up as Philippine government is lenient with the U.S.

Okinawan reflection at the Chevron Refinery
20% of Okinawa is occupied by U.S. military. Environmental destruction is everyday in the news. There are 16,000 bombshells in the water. Government says there is no problem with the quality of the water. 1961-1962, dioxin, agent orange, was found in Okinawa (which they learned from Guam). Depleted Uranium, Noise pollution, health, hearing problems, low birth weight, cancers, no scientific report. Children lose 1 year of study hours when living close to the base because of noise pollution. Emergency training because of fighter plane crash. Uneasy environment. Executive orders for company to communicate with local community, but that still has not occurred.

Bayview/Hunter’s Point
In 1973, Shipyards closed and people needed jobs. This area is a site of environmental and economic racism. Military recruitment is common because not much in investment by federal government and corporations. Military recruitment is decreasing because they are not filling their quota. African Americans are not believing in the war, and are not joining the military in large numbers. However, they are facing economic challenges. There are community organizations, churches and environmental organizations. Community groups say that the city did not take back land from the Navy because the Navy did not clean up. They are facing redevelopment.

There was a moment in the bus when we were waiting to meet Maria from Greenaction. Someone suggested that we all sing a song. Every country sang a song except the U.S. I thought, "Where do we belong? Are we passive? We were active in strategizing events and planning..." Some of the women who represented from U.S. consider themselves part of the diaspora, their own cultural backgrounds coming from the other countries in the network, or other places in the world. What is our perspectives as displaced peoples in occupied lands? Do we bridge histories? It has been a privilege to have been mobile to travel to different lands. To think to know just because we have been there. Responsibility, to define it myself. Translating the songs. Other lands surface? Making connections makes deeper understanding of own lands.

Words of Marie Harrison, community organizer of Bayview/Hunter’s Point
Bayview is 3.5 miles, while San Francisco is 49 square miles. There is heavy industry in Bay view, like Power plants. There are also public housing across street of fossil fuel tanks to operate the plant. In the 1950s, there was an explosion at the Indian baseline shore. Asthma, cancer are among the health issues. African American women under 50 have a common rate of breast cancer leading to radical breast removals, babies born with cancer, high mortality rates among infants. The criminals are those who are poisoning their communities.

Our payment to her to turn in our homework. The future in our youth, the knowledge needs to be passed on to them. Information is only good if passed on. No public participation if just “hearing.” Emotional outbursts are necessary if children are experiencing bloody noses, asthma attacks on regular basis. PG&E provides no public participation. The public housing houses among the poorest people in San Francisco. Know your rights to stand up for them, for your life, community, family. Spoon feed the politicians. As the plant was being dismantled, they found asbestos, arsenic, led, PCBs (lead, mercury particulates) in building, ground, soil, water. The ground water flowed into the Bay and ocean to Oakland and San Leandro. They are shutting down the plan, but the regulations made decisions without her family in mind. The plant is the number one air and land water pollutant in Hunter’s Point. Putting up cement, grass, bushes are not a cure all for years of pollution. To put up a playground is an insult. The particulates from plant are very hot. The EPA says that fishing is not safe, even though people in the community fish for food. The community battled with EPA to put signs up: if you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, do not eat fish. If you are 0-10 years old, eat ¼ of a ¼ of a fish once a month.” Why not having a sign that says DO NOT EAT FISH? The community continues to battle for signs to be in the different languages of the community, but the sign was put up below waist level, making the safety information inadequate in informing the community.

Parcel B - piece of land in Hunter's Point that is being developed
Black Sand. Next cleanest area for homes. The development projects attempting to push into the water to create Parcel F. They are also planning to clean the water. A natural asbestos rock was flattened for infrastructure. Community complained about dust filled with mercury, lead, chromium, copper and arsenic. Town hall meeteing to upgrade community on whats going on. Expensive homes in Hunters Point not in danger. Company is called Lenner/BVHP developments.

Where they put together the bomb for Hiroshima. Chromium, lead, copper, mercury, arsenic, in soil and bodies. Bottomline is money harms the community.

Parcel E
Underground crude oil wells to make cement. In Parcel E2, flames were shooting from ground, smoking in the air. It took Navy 21 days to have a community meeting about what was having. It was a toxic fire. Plastic was used to hold down dirt, clay and plastic.

In the homes, mold, mildew, but the Housing Authority no clean. Kettlemen’s city, BVHP has 86,000 tons of PCBs. $4/ton versus lives of children

Unemployment rate. Feed your family with company that is killing us slowly. Job doesn’t last long and doesn’t serve our family or community.

How does your community relate to mine?

How am I working to educate self and educate my community?

How have I linked with other communities? What have I done?

Resisting Militarism and Restructuring Notes
US in Korea to surround China. North Korea threat to increase U.S. military presence. North Korea missiles.

1945, U.S. helped S. Korea to build separate military government. No objection to the U.S. by government, although there were demonstrations. China and Japanese build up military. Peace activists connect with China and Japan. If one country builds, the other country builds. Reduce military expenditure in China and Japan.

People in villages adapt to new location after being displaced by bars. Now military wants their land. Supporting between Pyongtaek and Japan. Inspiring. No new bases constructed. Non-violent direction actions (Okinawa learned from Puerto Rico). No hold up fist. Frontline and into government speak out. Media. Need international support. Envrionmental agencies aware of this issue. Use UN bureaucracy to slow things down? Owners want money from government. Farmers who rent house. Development pursued by city of Pyongtaek. They support government policy. In Daechuri, peace activists support farmers. In 2003-2007, protests of farmer and activists. Concessions given to farmers in February. Pyongtaek Peace center. Peace village to expand on site. Free trade agreement between Korea and the U.S. Not just military, but economic alliance to oppress Korea.

UN Issue with South Korea
2012 US is UN command. South Korea relocate of U.S. bses. US no clean up. 2001, revised the SOFA to include environmental issue there, but not clear in details. U.S. no clean up, but Korean government said they’ll do it. Change SOFA for U.S. to clean up bases.

Close base, open another, still toxins in old one. Japanese government will clean up. Local governments being submissive. Alternative developent ideas to propose to local government. Alliance across different issues to propose to local governments, lobbying instead of depending on U.S. funding/investments. See present situation of environment and contamination. Hard to get support from whole community. The mayor of Ginawa City was criticized by government. He was hard to get elected. System of government works in a way where progressive governments are trumped by more conservative governments. The Prime Minister sued the progressive Mayor and supreme country because he was not in support of National Security. Need to redefine what Security means. Government elected by the people. Used existing laws, like class actions, against noise pollution at Kadena and Fituma Air Stations. The supreme court said it could not stop noise because of National Interest. What is national security? Education to break down this discourse.

In 1992, the bases were ousted. The difference between the SOFA and VFA is that SOFA allows bases while VFA says that military is visiting, although now it seems they are permanently visiting. According to Okinawan delegate Suzuyo Takazato, the green beret go to the Philippines to train soldiers in Mindanao. Guam and Hawaii, as a territory and state, allow for military to be there “legally.” GMA kills those against her. By 2010, she wants to reverse constitution to open up Philippines to the U.S through Charter Change. It was blocked by lobbying and protests.

Organizing youth
By teaching politics issues, VFA, context of US war of aggression, fostering education to action. There are multisectoral organizations of youth, teachers, workers, urban poor, indigenous. Core members of each group to plan together.

The military in urban and rural areas. Need to be inconspicuous because of high surveillance.

Counter-Recruitment from Rinda, Hawaii delegate
African American, Puerto Rican difficult to counter-recruit. Soldiers come from poverty and gangs, lack of opportunities and skills to go for a different future. Need to train youth to get different skills and open up resources for them.

Privatized pool of soldiers hired by the U.S. government, such as Black Hawk. Being recruited from North Africa.

There are now 383,000 soldiers overseas. Google Earth maps 800 bases outside of the U.S. In Italy, they get better treatment when people complain, unlike in Okinawa. Its because of racism.

Globalization movement
Every four years, people mobilize because of globalization issues. Military issues are still seen as isolated, although it is an international community issue. Is it because the media is cut off from making connections with the issue? The restructuring and relocating of military forces, sudden drop in military recruitment reveals that the military is shuffling around. We need to study to project where things are hidden. The comfort women’s issues undermines unity. Create a visual mapping to show how military is being used and tax dollars being used. The antibase movement has an email list, but it is in the English language and there is no website.

Korean event
Intercultural dialogue through meeting each other. Translation, process, building relationships, sharing visions.

Comfort women support. Japanese government apology and compensation, but government not acting despite U.S. law. August 15 is the National liberation day to not repeat injustice against women. Support women to meet demands.

Photographer was imprisoned because his photographs was for peace work. He was imprisoned because of National Security violation and trespassing military premises. He was violated, and didn’t do anything wrong. He fasted. It took 8 trials, judge and public to learn about peace. Effects of peace anti-war movement; had to change society overnight. Dialogues to progress. Leadership development among women to address patriarchy.

Expectations for being here in the U.S.
What’s the ideology behind the military culture? American society as a whole understands root of the problem as actvitist, separate targets. Military industrial complex is the target. Wish is the role of women should educate ordinary citizens as impact of militarism world wide. Continue to fight together.

How is this movement different? What insight can this movement bring to youth movements in diaspora?

Solidarity among different API countries. The gather of solidarity allows for best practices to be implemented in their own countries. Still yet Afghanistan “not strong alliance.” At the brink of the Afghanistan war, made connections with the Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan (RAWA). Hostages in Afghanistan, so they contacted RAWA, organized a press conference, letter writings to government. Statement on Korea hostage, solidarity to know each other.

Guam/Okinawa Report
Spirit – protect, create a space for spirit to live in free form.
Famoksaiyan, Guahan for Peace and Justice: Protect Guam land, language, culture.

Okinawa – presented by Suzuyo Takazato. Look for children for guidance. Okinawa has 150 islands. Main island. 4th women’s conference in Beijing, 1995. Okinawa seen as kestone of the Pacific by the U.S. military. Strategic location.
Okinawa is 0.6% of Japan is territory, but it has 75% of bases.

There was a land battle during World War II, and they lost ¼ of their population. But its not finished because troops didn’t go back. U.S. military continues to occupy, people suffering from tremendous noise pollution due to noise and crashs. In 1969, a crash in an elementary school, and 2004 crash at a university.

Land contaminated because of ammunition everywhere. Coral is land and dugong is endangered.

Crimes against women and people. Fences put up to keep troops and family safe. They don’t need to register as foreigners, they can go wherever they want.

After 9/11, the U.S. government eager to re-organize effective military overseas. On October 2005, they transformed the US military bases by adding new base in Northern Okinawa. 8,000 troops were sent to Guam. Conditions were such that Okinawan people were burdened, no plan to withdraw troops, to relocate to Northern Okinawa, and increase of military men to protect security, but no security for people. What does security mean?

People protest by ding human chain around bases. At Henoko, they sit in platform on sea to stop its development. In 1945 after WWII, villages burned and people relocated to camps. U.S military occupation after Battle of Okinawa and there was sexual violence. Soliders go to camp and raped girl in front of her family. Father took her out of hospital. In Time Nov 1999, Okinawa situated under US occupation was worst in the world. 29 murders, 18 rape cases.

1951 Korea War, Okinawa was used as an outpost. Land exploited with new laws. In 1955, 6 year old girl raped and killed by US soldier,

History and Lessons of the Network
Recollection of 10 years of the Network
Philippines – need to identify a common campaign to participate in.

Korea – Meeting is a seed to produce fruits, not just goals, but personally impacted.

Okinawa – Younger generations connecting with the heart and soul of the movement.

Puerto Rico – we live in a historical moment. Witness of each others struggles. Learn issues and traumas, express in our own cultural way. There is a historical responsibility to make this work.

U.S. – Self-reflection, heart to heart connections. Space for our stories. Women of color leadership to push movement forward.

Do able actions that fits our culture. Fun and empowering. Network, activities, begging of plan.

2002 – actions in our nations during the same day, communicated, to have sense as part of the network that makes sense in their location.

Wesbite to put all of our reports, link all our organization websites and on-line presences. Questions of language translation. Website reports or actions for each of us can support. Political repression for people to speak.

Going to UN – Human Rights Issues. We don’t want US militarism and their partners. Single campaign to encompass every groups issues. Core group to flesh out agenda. To U.S. UN in New York. Put to the media to the U.S. and partnerships with other communities.

Aida – Philippine struggle between colonization and imperialism. Common campaign to map our network to Washing D.C.
Core representatives to meet to discuss concretely.

Kozue – Japanese delegate – Campaign to UN through Commission on the status of Women – Armed Conflict and Women. Long term military presence should be recognized as war crime and indicted. Takazato San – Special Rappoteur hard to let them realize existing military bases connect to concrete violence against women.

Maria – Puerto Rico – Website needs to be live, carries our stories. Militarism as arrangements, with different actors and actresses. Equation includes countries as recipients. African American and Latin Americans need to be part of this network. Education important through freedom school: youth come to learn about militarism and military arrangement. Proposal to have an educational kit on militarism.

Takazato – Some sisters could not come. Protest the visa. Include voices who could not come. They were arrested because involved in these activities. Notified if such incident shappen. United campaigns against such actions.

Debbie – Prevent troops from installations on Guam from Okinawa. Focus on Press Releases.

Hikaro – No bases network in India. Was in Ecuador. Email server. Global military map. Updated with articles, informational hub feminist perspective.