End attacks on women: Troops out of Okinawa!
WORD statement of solidarity
On Oct. 16, two U.S. sailors raped a woman in Okinawa. WORD condemns this act of violence and demands justice for the victim and all victims of rape by the U.S. military.
This was not the first time that U.S. forces—tens of thousands of whom are stationed in Okinawa—have committed violent acts against the population there. In August of this year, a U.S. marine was arrested for assaulting and molesting a local woman. In February of 2008, U.S. Servicemen raped a Filipino woman living in Okinawa.
In 1995, a twelve year old was gang raped by U.S. servicemen. In that case, the U.S. military initially refused to turn the suspects over to local authorities. Tens of thousands took the streets in protest, demanding that the U.S. military leave the island.
The sailors in the most recent case were arrested immediately by local authorities. The Navy is said to be cooperating with local authorities and launching its own investigation. But acts of rape carried out by U.S. servicemen have previously gone unpunished or left to internal U.S. military discipline which amounts to little or no consequences.
The two sailors responsible for this attack must be fully prosecuted and held accountable.
Residents of Okinawa are understandably outraged. The island’s legislature has passed a protest resolution demanding proper punishment and victim compensation, as well as demanding that the U.S. military educate and train its personnel to prevent further crimes against Okinawa residents. Women in Okinawa have issued a call demanding an end to the violent attacks and are calling for the removal of U.S. troops and bases—the source of this violence.
There is an ongoing struggle by the people of Okinawa for the full withdrawal of the troops and closure of the base that have occupied the island for 67 years. Just this September, tens of thousands of people rallied against the deployment of the Osprey and the presence of the U.S. military.
The reality is that U.S. military bases around the world trample women’s human rights. The U.S. military is not “liberating” women in other countries. Raping and killing women is not “spreading democracy.”
The United States has over 800 bases in 130 countries. The aggression and greed that drive U.S. foreign policy lead to the dehumanization of all “enemies” of the United States. Populations that live in proximity to military bases know too well the misconduct, especially rape, that goes unchecked--from the Philippines, to Korea, to Japan. The fact that U.S. troops who commit such egregious crimes are generally not accountable to their victims or their victim's government reveals the colonial-type relationship of dominance the U.S. military holds over these countries.
The movement in Okinawa is calling for an end to the violence against women perpetrated by the U.S. military and the removal of the U.S. military. WORD stands with the people of Okinawa in demanding an end to the attacks on women on Okinawa, for full accountability for U.S. servicemen and for closure of all bases now!