Fil-Ams protest in New York: ‘I am Mary Jane Veloso’

Lenn Almadin Thornhill

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Fil-Ams protest in New York: ‘I am Mary Jane Veloso’
Filipino activists believe that every action they hold, whether outside the UN or in front of the Indonesian embassy, could lead to a possible solution

NEW YORK CITY – They shouted out her name, echoing across busy Manhattan streets. They stood right across the United Nations building in New York City. “I am a migrant worker, a mother, a daughter, sister, I am Mary Jane Veloso. We are all Mary Jane Veloso,” Anne Beryl Naguit said.

Naguit, 31, the National Vice President of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), joined different representatives and members of New York- and New Jersey- based organizations on Thursday, April 23, afternoon for a global day of action to save Veloso’s life. (READ: Mary Jane told execution date: Tuesday, April 28

33-year-old Veloso, a mother of two, is an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) facing the death penalty in Indonesia, after being convicted of drug trafficking.

Mary Jane received a 72-hour notice on Saturday, April 25, that her execution would take place on Tuesday, April 28. 

“If she dies,” Naguit hesitantly said, then paused, “if we don’t address this, if we don’t do as much as we could, there will more Mary Janes in the future.”

Naguit and other Filipino activists believe that every action they hold, whether outside the UN or in front of the Indonesian embassy, could lead to a possible solution.

What they found, Naguit said, was even the staff and high ranking officials at the Indonesian embassy were not completely aware of Veloso’s case. “Our call is to continue to be present outside the Indonesian embassy, not to antagonize but to explain to them that they are critical in the decision process.” 

Put pressure

BAYAN USA calls on its members, allies, and supporters to escalate their vigilance and actions. Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN USA chair, said that without pressure from the people, the Philippine government does not act.

“The actions taken by the Aquino government for Mary Jane and her family thus far have only been because of pressure coming from the Filipino people and around the world. If not for the international movement to save Mary Jane, the Aquino government’s usual pattern is to turn a blind eye to cases of human trafficking of OFWs, including those trafficked to the United States.”

Veloso was arrested, tried and sentenced to death in 2010. In August 2011, the Philippine government filed an appeal for clemency on Veloso’s behalf. But in 2011, Indonesia had a moratorium on executions.

Human rights

“The death penalty is a violent and inhumane punishment,” said Kalaya’an Mendoza, a human rights activist. Mendoza, who works with Amnesty International, spoke to Rappler about state-sanctioned killing.

“It is the ultimate, irreversible denial of fundamental human rights. I urge the Indonesian authorities to stand for human rights and to stop the execution of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso and all prisoners on death row. State-sanctioned killing is reprehensible and absolutely deplorable.”

In Indonesia, the hashtag #MaryJane trended in support of Veloso.

Veloso is the only woman among the 9 convicted drug smugglers due to be executed. The others are from Nigeria, Brazil, France, and Australia.

On April 25, foreign embassy officials were summoned to the prisons to hear procedural duties of the executions.

Filipino activists in the US meanwhile told Rappler they will continue their action to save Mary Jane Veloso. – 

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