FiRE’d UP WEDNESDAYS @ The Brecht Forum

FiRE’d UP, FiRE’s summer film series is back and this summer we’re collaborating with the Brecht Forum to bring you FiRE’d UP WEDNESDAYS! Every 3rd and 4th Wednesday in July and August at 7:30pm, FiRE and the Brecht will present a different film that features the stories and struggles of Filipinas, migrants, and workers in the Philippines and abroad, in conjunction with NAFCON’s Stop Trafficking Our People Campaign. Discussions featuring guest speakers from Tue AUdre Lorde Project, Bayan USA, Anakbayan USA, the F15, and NAFCON NE will accompany the films. See schedule of films below:

WED JUL 18: Paper Dolls (Heymann, 2006), speakers from FiRE NYC
WED JUL 25: Sister Stella L. (De Leon, 1984), speakers from BAYAN USA
WED AUG 15: * Double Feature* Migrante Documentary & Modern Heroes, Modern Slaves (Boti, 1997), speakers from F 15 and Anakbayan USA
WED AUG 22: The Learning (Diaz, 2011), speakers from NAFCON NE

451 West St (btwn Bank and Bethune) A/C/E/L to 14th St; PATH to Christopher St.
All screenings begin at 7:30pm. $6-$15 donations (no one turned away for lack of funds).*

*Proceeds benefit the awesome work of The Brecht Forum and Filipinas for RIghts and Empowerment.

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FILIPINO WOMEN PROTEST WITH THOUSANDS IN OCCUPY WALL ST. MARCH ALONGSIDE UNIONS AND COMMUNITY GROUPS IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST CAPITALISM AND THE PROTRACTED GLOBAL ECONOMIC DEPRESSION

News Release
October 8, 2011
References:
Irma Salvatierra Bajar, Chairperson, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment-NYC, email: fire.nyc@gmail.com
Raquel Redondiez, Chairperson, GABRIELA-USA, email: gabrielawomen@gmail.com

FILIPINO WOMEN PROTEST WITH THOUSANDS IN OCCUPY WALL ST. MARCH ALONGSIDE UNIONS AND COMMUNITY GROUPS IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST CAPITALISM AND THE PROTRACTED GLOBAL ECONOMIC DEPRESSION


NEW YORK, NY—On Wednesday, Filipino women of grassroots organization Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), under the banner of GABRIELA USA, a member organization of the newly formed International Women’s Alliance (IWA), joined a mass rally and march to Zucotti Park, the site of the 3-week-long Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York City. The rally and march, organized by community organizations and labor unions, drew in thousands of participants and has been the largest demonstration since the launch of Occupy Wall Street. The rally commenced at Foley Square where more than fifteen public sector organizations and unions, including the United Federation of Teachers, United Auto Workers, and Transit Workers’ Union, gathered with other community and labor leaders to protest against income inequalities and poor public education in New York City.

FiRE marched with fellow BAYAN USA Northeast member organizations, Anakbayan New York, Anakbayan New Jersey, and the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, as well as with member organizations of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON). This Filipino contingent joined the “New York Communities Contingent” which included People’s Justice, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, Picture the Homeless, and FIERCE. FiRE members chanted “The banks got bailed out. We got sold out,” carrying signs reading “No to Imperialist Globalization. End U.S. Economic Intervention.”

Malou Logan of GABRIELA Australia, which is also a member organization of the International Women’s Alliance, is visiting New York City and joined the march. Of the march she stated, “I joined the march in New York as an expression of my support, and to represent the voice of the Filipino women of GABRIELA Australia and MIGRANTE Australia. Wall Street is the financial capital of the world, the epitome of corporate greed that sucks all the profits labored by the immigrants and citizens of third world countries. We as immigrants in the U.S. and in Australia are forced to leave the Philippines to look for decent jobs for our families and the women workers bear the brunt of the financial crisis.”

Monica Moorehead, an organizer with the Women’s Fightback Network, and a steering committee member of the International Women’s Alliance says, “The Occupy Wall Street actions amount to a growing mass rebellion against the global capitalist economic crisis which has already devastated the lives of millions of people, especially women, and promises to destroy the future of the youth. This radicalization of youth must continue to open up political space for the workers, who are losing their jobs, their homes, their health care and their pensions, and the most oppressed, who face political repression in the form of police brutality, cutbacks in social services, and the prison industrial complex. The Occupy Wall Street actions must be wholeheartedly supported and continue to flourish throughout the globe until ‘Occupy the World’ becomes a reality, not just a slogan.  This dynamic movement inside the U.S. has been inspired by righteous occupations in Egypt, Tunisia, Greece, Spain and Wisconsin–many of them led by women.”

Irma Bajar, Chairperson of FiRE-GABRIELA USA, stated, “Women in the U.S. and all over the world have been fighting against capitalist exploitation, patriarchy, and multiple intersecting oppressions and discrimination. The enemy is this unfair capitalist system and imperialism. People across various immigrant communities and people of color have been standing in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. because people are fed up with the injustices and unfair systems.” Bajar continues, “As a Filipino American woman, I can connect the reasons why my mother had to leave the Philippines to the Occupy Wall Street struggle because of the economic conditions and joblessness there. Women are forced out of the country and legally trafficked by the Labor Export Policy that benefits imperialist countries like the United States and big corporations like Dole and Nestle.”

The International Women’s Assembly (IWA) successfully held its First General Assembly on July 5 and 6, 2011 in Quezon City, Philippines under the theme, “Advance the Global Anti-imperialist Women’s Movement! Strengthen the International Women’s Alliance!” FiRE-GABRIELA USA urges other anti-imperialist organizations to join us in fighting against capitalism and imperialism from the level of grassroots organizing expanding to global networks. Class consciousness becomes the basis for women to fight for economic equity, political rights, freedom of association, and to oppose colonial and imperialist wars.

One Year Later, Filipinos Still in Crisis Under Aquino– BAYAN-USA

Press Statement
July 25, 2011

Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN-USA, email: chair@bayanusa.org

One Year Later, Filipinos Still in Crisis Under Aquino– BAYAN-USA

Filipino-Americans, under the banner of BAYAN-USA, are taking part in actions across the US and in Manila during the scheduled State of the Nation Address (SONA) in the Philippines to register strong condemnation and disappointment over the failure of the administration of Philippine President Benigno Simeon “P-Noy” Aquino III to facilitate significant changes to improve the lives of the burdened Filipino people after one year in office.

Citing continuing subservience to foreign dictates and a worsened economic situation as measures of the Aquino’s failure to deliver upon promises made during the election and during last year’s SONA, BAYAN-USA and its allies in the US remain adamantly unconvinced that the administration is genuinely for change.

Shameless US Puppetry

At the heart of Aquino’s failure is unrelenting loyalty and puppetry to US foreign policy.

Within his first year, Aquino has willingly allowed the US to use the Philippines as its puppet state to take advantage of the regional territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands and provoke profit-making military aggression in Asia, and particularly against China.

As war and arms production has become the most profitable industry for the US ruling elite, the US government has in turn been able to rely strongly on the compliant Aquino administration to continue with a sugar-coated version of Arroyo’s deadly Operation Plan Bantay Laya by implementing Operation Plan Bayanihan, per the US State Department’s Counter-Insurgency Guide (US COIN). The objective of this counterinsurgency program is the same as it was for Arroyo’s administration and as utilized by repressive regimes worldwide: to suppress dissent and eliminate opposition using a combination of deceptive and increasingly violent tactics. The end result is the protection of imperialist economic and political interests at the expense of human lives.

The Poor Get Poorer Under Aquino

Under the thumb of US foreign dictates, Aquino has further pushed a neoliberal economic framework that has made life more miserable for the majority of the Filipino people. Landlord families, such as Aquino’s, remain in control of the country’s natural resources and push for privatization. Liberalization continues to hike up the prices of basic commodities such as food, gas, and water out of the reach of Filipino families. Contractualization hurts workers by decreasing wages, sowing job insecurity, and busting unions. Under Aquino, there are over 11 million unemployed Filipinos in the country with virtually zero job growth.

Privatization schemes such as the so-called Public-Private Partnership (PPP) not only serve to bulk up the pockets of wealthy and powerful multi-national corporate investors at the expense of ordinary Filipino citizens and workers. They also widen the gap between the few Filipino families that control the majority of the country’s wealth and political power and the burdened majority who must pay from their own pockets for the risks of private investors. It is the impoverished majority who suffer the most from the Philippine state’s abandonment of its public responsibilities.

Filipinos are left with no choice but to seek opportunities abroad, like in the United States. But in these desperate economic times, many Filipino workers fall prey to human trafficking schemes to the US.

Philippine Government: #1 Human Trafficker

The cases of the Sentosa 27 healthworkers, the Florida 15 hotel workers, and hundreds more similar cases of Filipinos duped into coming to the US under the auspices that they would have contract work waiting for them only to have their money taken, passports confiscated, and be left by their recruiters to fend for themselves as undocumented migrants are another clear measure of the Philippine government’s failure to address the country’s economic woes.

In addition, the Aquino government continues Arroyo’s non-accountability to overseas Filipino workers in distress by not providing adequate social services and protection from abuse, maltreatment, and exploitation abroad.

Last Names Do Not a Great Leader Make

Though he was able to capitalize on his last name and the dirty record of his predecessor to win the election, it is clear that none of these things actually translated into making Aquino a great leader or any improvement to the state of the Philippine nation.

Like Obama, Aquino has proven that he is not much different than his predecessor, particularly with his human rights record. In one year of the Aquino presidency, 45 activists have been slain in politically-motivated killings, 5 have been victims of forced disappearance and over 300 political prisoners remain behind bars. The perpetrators of the 1,206 extra-judicial killings, more than 300 forced disappearances, and over 1,000 cases of torture committed under the previous administration of President Gloria Arroyo remain at-large, including those guilty of abducting and torturing renowned Filipina American poet, artist, and BAYAN USA member Melissa Roxas.

As Aquino delivers his formal State of the Nation Address (SONA) to the Philippine Congress today, Filipino-Americans will be amongst those who refused to be deceived and who understand that real change can only come from ordinary people in collective struggle, not from individual politicians with famous last names. ###

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 14 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org

Friday, 5/20: Melissa Roxas Candlelight Vigil in NYC

Candlelight Vigil for Melissa Roxas
Friday, May 20, 2011 from 7:30p – 8:30 p
meet at the Bayanihan Community Center : 40-21 69th St, Woodside, NY 11377
Trains: 69th St (7); 74th St-Roosevelt Ave (7, E, F, V, G, R)
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=109312942490402

We are inviting all friends and supporters of Filipina-American activist, Melissa Roxas, to join us on May 20th and commemorate the 2 years since her abduction. Your support is vital as the Committee for Human Rights (CHR)’s recent Resolution denies Melissa Roxas is a survivor of abduction and torture, despite the first-hand testimony that Roxas herself has provided in writing and in person to the CHR. This a glaring & disappointing CHR failure to carry out its constitutional mandate to protect human rights.

We need your support more than ever to place public pressure on the PNoy and Obama administrations, as well as the UN! Without your help, we run the risk of having Melissa’s case swept under the rug, never holding her AFP captors accountable.

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!

Please sign the Open Community Letter here:
https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFRjUXdXUHcxQWQ1ZUhldm1KVGFqQnc6MQ&ifq

And read Melissa’s Personal Statement regarding the CHR Resolution:
http://justiceformelissa.org/2011/04/chr-resolution-only-serves-to-maintain-and-perpetuate-impunity/

Filipinas in New York City March to Defend Workers Rights on May Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2011

Filipinas in New York City March to Defend Workers Rights on May Day

Reference: Irma Bajar, Chairperson, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment; fire.nyc@gmail.com

New York City – On May 1, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment joined 20,000 people at Union Square with the May 1st Coalition to march for job security, workers rights, and legalization for all. The march ended at Foley Square, where the Coalition was greeted by various unions holding a unified May 1st rally.

Today, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) still suffer from damaging work conditions, exploitation, and government neglect. As a result of unequal U.S. foreign policies, trade agreements, and the cooperation of puppet governments, the working poor in third world countries, and specifically the Philippines are forced to leave and find work elsewhere. The Labor Export Program (LEP) in the Philippines is a government system that currently forces close to 4,000 Filipinos to leave the country everyday, 70% of whom are women. Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment urge all women and their families to join the struggle against forced migration and fight for genuine comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. “We demand an end to the raids and deportation that are separating and hurting our families. We march and stand together with women, immigrants, and workers across all communities to defend the rights of workers, especially the majority of whom fall victim to exploitative situations and are deprived of their basic rights,” said Irma Bajar, Chairperson of FiRE.

The slew of neoliberal policies have resulted in the worst global economic crisis faced since the Great Depression. Workers feel the brunt of this crisis, both citizen and immigrant, and remain vulnerable to exploitation. “It’s definitely a pressing issue in the Filipino community as the majority of our people in the United States are marginalized workers. Migrant workers are caught between the Philippine government’s Labor Export Program and racist legislation like SB1070 and House Bill 87 in the US,” explained Cris Hilo, Secretary General of FiRE.

FiRE sisters march for legalization for all.

The march ending with various unions like SEIU 1199 and TWU 100, and made clear the need for workers and immigrants in the United States to collaborate and unite in these dark times. “Job security is a real issue that the media refuses to cover. Union busting, like in Wisconsin, or even locally like the Woodlawn Cemetery Workers strike, leaves all workers, both citizens and immigrants, open to attack,” said Hanalei Ramos, Vice-Chair of FiRE.

As the on-going economic crisis continues to bring hardship to working families, especially immigrant communities and women, it is vital to organize and fight for their rights as scapegoating and deportations threaten their livelihood,” said Candice Sering, FiRE member.