“It could have been me”–participants of memorial and protest wear black, shed tears for woman killed by U.S. soldier

“It could have been me”--participants of memorial and protest wear black, shed tears for woman killed by U.S. soldier

Participants listen with rapt attention while wiping away tears as victims of U.S. military crimes and accidents speak of their experiences on June 2 at the Chatan Nirai Center Kanai Hall in Chatan

June 3, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

(Chatan) “It could have been me…” At an emergency memorial and protest held June 2 to remember the murder of a woman by a serviceman in the U.S. Marine Corps in Chatan, Okinawa in April, participants prayed for the victim to rest in peace and confirmed the importance of thinking of the incident not as someone else’s sorrow but as an event directly involving each and every person in Okinawa.

“As a mother [like the victim], my heart aches.” “Please don’t make Okinawans feel sorrow again.” During a relay discussion, women who, like the victim, are mothers of children, and other victims of crimes and accidents involving U.S. military service members and personnel took the stage and spoke of their thoughts and feelings.

Participants wore black hats and shirts and held up cards showing black swallowtail butterflies in honor of the victim. Before being killed, the victim had told the authorities that she was suffering domestic violence. Some of the participants kept wiping tears from their eyes as they lamented her death and thought of her child, who witnessed the scene of the crime.

Akiyoshi Murakami, former representative of the organization Victims of Incidents Caused by U.S. Military Service Members and Personnel, whose eldest son was killed by a U.S. military service member in a traffic accident, emphasized the importance of filing a civil lawsuit in such cases, saying, “It’s important that we firmly demonstrate to U.S. military members that we won’t let them get away with doing such things.”

A student, age 33, from Chatan, expressed misgivings about the relaxation of the Liberty Policy. “It will be difficult to solve these problems as long as the bases are here. U.S. military restrictions on leaving the base appear lax,” he said.

“The victim had a restraining order against the soldier, but wasn’t there any way the crime could have been prevented?” questioned a woman, 31, from Nago. “I think this harm came about because the bases are here. I want to make sure I think about the issue as something directly relating to me,” said a University of the Ryukyus student, age 24, who attended with her mother, age 56.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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