Philippine Women’s Network on Peace & Security
Amnesty International-Pilipinas * Buklod Center * KAISA Ka* Metro Subic
People’s Task Force on Bases Clean Up * WEDPRO * WomanHealth-Philippines
Member, International Women’s Network for Genuine Security
STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF CHERRIE ANN GUZMAN-COLEMAN
On October 4, Cherrie Anne Guzman-Coleman died under suspicious circumstances, allegedly by hanging herself. Cherrie was the bride of SSgt. Glenn Edward Coleman of the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron, which is stationed at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. The two met when Cherrie worked for six months in Okinawa as an overseas performing artist, and had only been married for five months when Cherrie died. Coleman claims that Cherrie took her own life after a “slight” domestic disagreement. Cherrie’s friends have said that the couple often quarreled due to Coleman’s jealousy. They had seen Cherrie distraught, in tears and bruised after such incidents. On October 13, the battered body of Cherrie Ann Guzman-Coleman arrived in the Philippines and was claimed by her grieving mother, Ms. Myrna Vergara.
Almost 50,000 US forces and their dependents are stationed in Okinawa’s 42 military installations under Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, current commander of all US forces in Japan. Sexual crimes and violence directed at women, including domestic violence, are the most common forms of human rights violations in the world. Violence against women is particularly pervasive in the context of military bases and prevailing military culture and training. The number and gravity of cases of violence against women have been especially shocking in Okinawa where US bases began its operations in 1945. In the past 62 years, hundreds of victims have been attacked, kidnapped, abused, gang raped or murdered, including a nine month old baby and girls with ages ranging from six to fifteen. Cherrie may well be the latest in a long line of women who have been attacked, kidnapped, abused, raped and even murdered by US servicemen in Okinawa.
Actions taken by Coleman and US military authorities in Okinawa have raised speculations that they have engaged in an attempt to cover-up the real facts regarding Cherrie’s death. The 20 year old Filipina’s death certificate, signed by medical examiner Capt. James Caruso of the US Naval Hospital in Okinawa did not contain cause of death, although an autopsy was supposedly carried out.
The Philippine Women’s Network on Peace and Security Network (PWNPS) calls on the Okinawan authorities, along with the Japanese Government, to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation on the death of Cherrie Ann Guzman-Coleman.
We call on the Philippine Government to assist the family of Cherrie through her mother, Ms. Vergara, to determine the actual cause of her death and seek justice for the untimely death of her daughter.
We call on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to fulfill its responsibility to protect and promote the well-being of all its citizens, including Cherrie Ann and all Filipino women living and working in military facilities all over the world.
Ref: Women’s Education, Development, Productivity & Research Organization (WEDPRO), Inc.
Convener and Secretariat: Philippine Women’s Network on Peace & Security (PWNPS)