Saturday afternoon, as rain steadily drenched downtown Fort Wayne, Ahr Yu and 25 fellow Burmese immigrants, mostly from Fort Wayne, stood at the Allen County Courthouse Green, holding signs demanding justice for his daughter, Thae Ohu.
Thae Ohu, a 26-year-old Marine and North Side High School graduate, was sexually assaulted in 2015 by a fellow Marine while serving in Japan, protesters said. Since then, her mental health has deteriorated because she has not received the treatment she needs, her family added.
For Ahr Yu, who fled Burma, now called Myanmar, as a member of the All Burma Student Democratic Front, his daughter's treatment is like a “slap in my face.” Her fight with PTSD led to incarceration at the Navy Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Virginia.
“We criticized the Burmese military injustice system and praised the U.S. military. Now the U.S. Marine Corps is behaving as the Burmese army ... she has been denied her rights. At this time, she is not allowed to talk to her family, so I can't hear her voice. I can't see how she's doing. I am deeply worried for her safety and mental health,” Ahr Yu said.
Thae Ohu's older sister, Pan Phyu, in San Diego serving in the Navy, has posted a GoFundMe, Help Thae Ohu, hoping to raise $60,000 for legal fees and medical treatment.
A WeThePeople petition was also created in July called “Release Marine Corporal & Military Sexual Assault survivor Thae Ohu from Brig; Give her Treatment and Justice She Deserves.” Nearly 6,000 people had signed the petition as of Saturday, with a goal of 100,000 signatures.
In January, the young woman who was once confident and ready to help others through their struggles became despondent and her own struggle has only become worse, her father and sister said.
“I received a call from her on 08JUN20,” Pan Phyu wrote in one GoFundMe post, “'I am cracking.' The Naval Consolidated Brig cannot provide her with the mental health care she clearly needs. She is suffering, and we must continue to do all we can to help her.”
In June, Thae Ohu, an administrative specialist with the Marine Corps Intelligence Schools aboard Dam Neck Naval Base, was incarcerated after a domestic issue with her boyfriend who, according to a July 13 article in the Virginian-Pilot, wants the charges dropped and her to get the help she needs.
The same article said Thae Ohu sought medical retirement this year so she could get treatment for PTSD, “but the Marines were seeking administrative separation ... that would cause her to lose medical benefits.”
Thae Ohu joined the Marines straight out of North Side High School.
The joke was how Thae Ohu, all of 5 feet 2 inches tall and slender, could carry a large gun, her uncle, Kyaw Thet, said at Saturday's demonstration.
At North Side, Thae Ohu participated in The Underserved Teen Victim Initiative training program with the Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime. She said in an article published by The Journal Gazette in August 2010 that she saw dating violence as one of the biggest challenges facing teens, “especially within immigrant and refugee populations.”
Ahr Yu said Pan Phyu also experienced sexual assault in the military, but received better treatment for it. Kyaw Thet said his daughter was also assaulted, was able to fight it off, but did not give details.
On Saturday, Thae Ohu was on a list as part of an online rally for “Vanessa (Gullein) and Victims of Military Sexual Trauma Survivors” sponsored by Our Sisters' Keeper Movement and Invisible Combat to bring awareness to victims of military sexual harassment.
The veteran and current service member-led protest is a national movement by service members (past and present) to bring awareness to sexual harassment/assault in the military,” the Facebook post read.