Radio show raises awareness vs militarization of youth

Beyond the Fence, a weekly program that airs on Public Radio Guam 89.3 FM and Saipan 89.1FM, focused last week on a second International Week of Action Against the Militarization of Youth to call for nonviolent actions to raise awareness of and challenge the ways young people are being militarized, and to give voice to alternatives.

The second International Week of Action Against the Militarization of Youth movement was held between Nov. 14 and 20, with many activists taking action and organizing events across the world including a movement to demilitarize schools in the United States.

According to the Anti-Military Youth website, “the Countering the Militarization of Youth project seeks to identify and challenge the many ways in which young people around the world are encouraged to accept the military and military values as normal, and worthy of their uncritical support. Militarization is a process that goes far beyond overt recruitment. It includes the presence and influence of the armed forces in education, public military events such as parades, and military-themed video games. This website is one in a series of efforts to bring together a network of those already working on countering the militarization of youth in their own settings, and to encourage more people to take action on these issues.”

The weekly radio show Beyond the Fence 89.1FM features interviews and coverage of public events offering analysis and personal perspectives on the local impacts of U.S. militarism in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, and provides accounts of different forms of resistance, decolonization and sovereignty struggles, and the challenges of building community “beyond the fence” where U.S. bases and installations are located.

Last week’s show titled “Na’ Matatnga I Manhoben” or “To Make the Youth Brave” was hosted by anchor host and coordinator Dr. Vivian Dames and featured four Marianas women who shared first-hand accounts of student-led actions to counter the militarization of youth in Guam high schools.

Kisha Borja-Quichocho, a graduate of George Washington High School in 2004, went on to earn a BA in English from Hawaii Pacific University, an MA in Pacific Islands Studies from the University of Hawaii-Manoa, and an MA in Teaching from the University of Guam. In 2010, she returned to GWHS to teach language arts and became faculty adviser to a student club, Na’ Matatnga I Manhoben or To Make the Youth Brave, the first public high school club committed to promoting peace, preserving the Chamorro culture, and countering military recruitment in the school.

She is currently a member of the faculty at the University of Guam, teaching courses in the School of Education and the Division of English and Applied Linguistics and serving as the editor for the Micronesian Area Research Center.

Nichole Quintanilla, a spoken word artist, apprentice weaver, actress, and Guam’s public high school coordinator for the Sinangån-ta Youth Movement, Guam’s official spoken word and poetry organization for youth, also shared her experiences with choosing to stay home or to join the military.

High school teachers Fanai Castro and Shannon Siguenza also talked about their experience advising a group of students from the Academy of Our Lady of Guam, Guam’s only all-girls Catholic high school, that produced a short video message titled “Guahan in Solidarity with Tinian and Pagan” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL5yDV0IZtQ.

The intent of their project was to express solidarity with those resisting the U.S. military plans to use Tinian and Pagan for live fire training.

The episode can be listened to in its entirely at kprg.podbean.com.

Youth resistance in the Marianas and other organizations’ involved in this movement include We Are Guahan, Our Islands Are Sacred, Manhita Marianas, Alternative Zero Coalition, and Please Help Save Tinian & Pagan group.

Sylvia C. Frain of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies stated that, “Despite being part of the same archipelago as Guåhan, the remaining 14 Mariana Islands are politically structured as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which is bound to the Covenant with the U.S. The Department of Defense conducts training and testing within the Mariana Island Range Complex, a 501,873 nautical mile range that is three times the size of California, and one of the largest DOD ranges in the world. In addition to the land the military occupies, it is estimated that at least one in eight Mariana residents are currently serving or have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. This colonial relationship with the U.S. in which the entire Mariana Archipelago are considered U.S. ‘sovereign soil,’ directly allows for the current militarization as well as the planned Pacific Pivot ‘buildup.’ The DOD has proposed relocating thousands of Marines from Okinawa, Japan and the construction of live firing range complexes on sacred land while ‘leasing’ entire islands as bombing targets. Therefore, resistance is happening as an effort to change the current colonial political status, while also resisting the increased militarization by the DOD.”

The release of the Guam buildup Record of Decision in August by the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Army has many continuing to resist and question their rights and sovereignty with the U.S. after the ROD went forward regardless of grass-roots opposition.

The ROD states: “A portion of U.S. Marine Corps forces currently located in Okinawa, Japan will be relocated to Guam. This relocation of Marine Corps forces will meet international agreement and treaty requirements and fulfill U.S. national security policy requirements to provide mutual defense, deter aggression, and dissuade coercion in the Western Pacific Region in response to the evolving security environment in the Pacific region…”

It further noted that, “a significant number of countries have ballistic missile capabilities which can deliver conventional, nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons,” with other countries working to establish these capabilities and missile systems justifying their need for effective strike range of defensive ballistic missile systems that must be located in the proximity of protected assets or the islands to protect the territory of Guam, its citizens, U.S. and allied forces on Guam from the threat of harm from ballistic missile attacks from other countries and enemies of the United States.

For more information on youth resistance in the Marianas, go to: http://antimili-youth.net/articles/2015/11/youth-resistance-mariana-islands-protecting-sacred-sites united-states-military

For more information about counter military recruitment, go to: https://www.warresisters.org, http://www.nnomy.org or www.facebook.com/antimiliyouth.

If you’d like to be a part of the show contact Vivian Dames at 671-734-8930 or email btf.kprg@gmail.com

The show’s studio is located in Mangilao on the campus of the University of Guam, Dean’s Circle #13, next to the Isla Center for the Arts and formally broadcasted out of the Northern Mariana College in the ’90s.

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Daisy Demapan | Reporter

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