Justice for Thae Ohu

Thae Ohu was a young enlisted Marine  who wanted to serve to the best of her ability and make her immigrant family proud. In her times of need she was repeatedly ignored, failed, and criminalized by the very military leaders who were charged with her life.

Thae Ohu is stationed at Marine Detachment Dam Neck. After being sexually assaulted by one of her superiors in Okinawa, Japan in 2015 she sought mental health care and accountability for her rape. For several years Thae was met with an unsupportive, toxic chain of command who shamed her and overt systemic failures at the hands of negligent, prejudiced Marine Corps leaders.

Lacking critical care and justice, Thae reached out to her Congressional Representative Jim Banks, from her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana who never replied to her plea for help. Thae continued to spiral downward until she finally sufferer a psychotic break on April 5, 2020, in which she attacked her then-boyfriend. This incident led to her arrest where she was charged with a simple assault misdemeanor by civilian authorities and her then-boyfriend refused to press charges knowing her actions were the direct result of a failed system and unmet health needs.

Despite this, Thae’s military chain of command abused their authority, and have perpetrated the same cycle of abuse that led her to instability in the first place. Marine Corps leadership have brutally criminalized Thae, leveled-up charges, put her in solitary confinement, and are keeping her in inhumane conditions that actively threaten her health and life. The Commandant of the Marine Corps and other Marine Corps leaders have acted with hostility towards Thae Ohu and her family.

Interestingly Fort Wayne, Indiana is also the hometown of pardoned war criminal, Eddie Gallagher. Congressman Jim Banks did advocate publicly on behalf of Gallagher but has not done the same for Thae Ohu. Importantly, Thae Ohu is the first in her family to earn her American citizenship through her military service. Her father was part of nationwide demonstrations during the summer of 1988 with a student resistance group fighting for democracy in Burma in the face of military dictatorship. He applied for political asylum so his daughters could have a future built on freedom after knowing the struggles of basic human rights being denied. Thae was born at the Thai-Burma border in a refugee camp that the family was placed in until their political asylum was approved. The Marine Corps seeks to charge Thae with alleged attempted murder and a long list of added criminalizations in an abusive attempt to make one stick to her sentence or bait her into a plea deal that further risks her being deported away from her home and her family who all reside in the United States. Representative Jim Banks has previously attempted to pit refugees and veterans against each other and shown glaring incompetence and malpractice around war trauma as a sitting Congressman. Democratic leaders like Rep Elaine Luria who sit on the House Armed Services Committee have also distanced themselves from Thae’s family and case in a way that betrays their elected mandate of oversight and accountability.

We the undersigned believe Thae Ohu’s case is a prime example of the way troops are failed and survivors of military sexual violence are criminalized while their perpetrators are shielded from accountability. The comfort and normalcy of troops' abuse and expendability cannot continue.

We Demand:

1. Most immediately, that President Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin follow through with medically retiring Thae Ohu as was originally planned before her chain of command abused their authority.

2. That Thae Ohu be released into the custody of her family so they can provide her the healthcare she deserves and needs.

3. Congressional leaders issue a full Congressional investigation into Thae’s rape case and the chain of command that so violently failed her and covered up abuse. Congress must hold a hearing publicly questioning Marine Corps leadership in front of the American people.

We demand transparency and accountability now. Not one more.

Add your name to the petition if you agree: Stop scapegoating, criminalizing, and failing survivors of military sexual violence! We demand justice for Thae Ohu and others like her.

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