Greetings of peace!
As part of the JUSTICE FOR HAZEL, NO TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND MIGRANTS CAMPAIGN of MIGRANTE Japan (Interim Coordinating Body or ICB), we are circulating online this support petition to demand Justice for "Hazel" and other victims of rape and sexual violence perpetrated by abusive American soldiers stationed in the various US military bases in Japan and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.
We need to gather the widest and broadest support for "Hazel" from local and international friends and other concerned individuals and groups to add pressure and to block attempts to cover up this heinous crime.
MIGRANTE Japan (ICB) will appreciate it very much if you can help us circulate this support petition among members of your organization, friends, and networks.
Thank you very much!
MIGRANTE Japan ICB
To: Peace-loving Peoples of the World
On February 18, 2008, "Hazel", a 22-year old Filipina, was raped by a US soldier barely 3 days after she arrived in Okinawa, Japan, to work as a cultural dancer. It's been more than 180 days now but so far no formal charge of rape has been filed against the accused, Specialist Sgt. Ronald Edward Hopstock Jr. The US Army Command in Okinawa is now conducting pretrial probe and will decide from now until November 2008 whether to press charges against the accused and conduct military court martial or to dismiss the case. Earlier, the Naha Public Prosecutor's Office had hastily dropped the case of "Hazel" (not her real name) citing "lack of sufficient evidence" as reason even though police and medical reports showed clear indications of sexual and physical abuse on the victim.
We, supporters and defenders of Hazel, the latest victim in a long string of sexual crimes committed by abusive U.S. military soldiers in Japan, are worried about Hazel and what will be the outcome of her case. We are afraid that like in many previous cases of rape and sexual abuse involving American soldiers, the accused may just go unpunished. The slow-paced legal process and the lack of resoluteness on the part of the Japanese prosecutors to pursue the case are clear indications of our worst fear.
We are also frustrated that the Philippine government has done very little effort to support the case of Hazel and to defend her rights. Instead of protecting her and providing all moral, legal and material support she needs, the Arroyo government through the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Okinawa and the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, has shown lack of sensitivity and resolve to safeguard the interest of the victim by not making any concrete legal action to pursue the case after it was dropped by the Japanese prosecutors. It virtually surrendered the case to the U.S. Army, and has persistently issued false statements to cover up for its inaction and neglect of the plight of Hazel and other Filipino migrants in Japan.
While we condemn the American soldier for the crimes he committed, we hold the Philippine government principally responsible for what has happened to Hazel and the ordeal that she has to go through for the rest of her life. Like millions of other migrant Filipinos, Hazel took the risk of leaving the country to work overseas because of poverty and serious unemployment problems in the Philippines. She went through all the legal procedures and paid all her dues to be able to legally work in Japan. But sadly, Hazel fell in the hands of unscrupulous talent promoters and club owners because the Philippine government failed to do its job and was nowhere in sight when Hazel needed assistance and protection.
We dare concerned officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo and the Office of the Honorary Consulate in Okinawa to immediately resign for failing to perform their mandated duties and obligations to its citizens in Japan. If they cannot protect and defend a rape victim like Hazel, then they have no right to hold any position in government.
We also challenge the U.S. and Japanese governments to side with justice and to refrain from making any cover up of the crime. We appeal for the speedy resolution of the case so that justice may be served to Hazel and members of her family who are also victims like her.
We support the call for JUSTICE for Hazel and other victims of rape and sexual violence committed by abusive American soldiers stationed in the various U.S. military bases and facilities throughout Japan and other countries in Asia. We demand that the accused be formally charged in an appropriate and impartial court and be punished commensurate to the crime he committed.
We will be watching the case closely. We will not allow any cover up much less a miscarriage of justice. In the past, we have seen many cases of rape and sexual abuse perpetrated by American soldiers in the Philippines, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere that have gone unpunished. We vow to relentlessly fight to end this impunity.
We also reiterate our demand to the Arroyo government to implement programs that truly guarantee protection to all migrant Filipinos regardless of their legal status; and to STOP treating migrants like commodities or mere source of dollar revenues for the bankrupt Philippine economy.
We commend the courage and conviction shown by Hazel to fight for justice not only for herself but also for other victims of rape and sexual violence committed by American soldiers, to advance the legitimate cause of women and migrants around the world, and to defend Philippine sovereignty and the dignity of the Filipino people.
We strongly believe that true justice for Hazel and other victims can only be achieved through the combined efforts of people struggling for peace and acting in solidarity with one another to resist all forms of abuse and violence against women and migrants.
We, therefore, appeal to all Filipinos and peace-loving peoples of the world to rally behind Hazel and to stand up for the rights and dignity of women and migrants around the world.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008