IN PHOTOS: Mary Jane joins Indonesian women’s day celebrations

Prima Sulistya Wardhani

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IN PHOTOS: Mary Jane joins Indonesian women’s day celebrations
The special activities inside Wirogunan Penitentiary in Yogyakarta were a brief respite for the mother of two on death row

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia – April 21 is Kartini Day in Indonesia – a day that celebrates Indonesian national heroine Raden Ayu Kartini – and there are celebrations everywhere, including inside Wirogunan Penitentiary in Yogyakarta. 

On this morning, dozens of reporters gathered in the prison to see one particular inmate – Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, the 30-year-old Filipino mother of two sentenced to death in 2010 for smuggling 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia. (FAST FACTS: The case of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso)


She arrived at around 9am and sat on a chair near the stage, facing the audience. But it was only when one reporter called out her name that everyone recognized her.

With her hair and make up done, Mary Jane (right) looks very different from the photos of her circulating.  

She looks very different from the photos of her that have been circulating, which were taken during her trial in early March. Back then, she looked stressed and tired. But for the fashion show, prison officials had her hair and make up done, and she put on a kebaya – a traditional Indonesian dress. 

She wears this dress twice a year, during Kartini Day and Mother’s Day, prison warden Zaenal Arifin said. 

Mary Jane moved to the back row to escape the attention from journalists.  

After about half an hour, she moved to the back row, seemingly embarrassed by all the attention she’s getting. “She was uneasy with her friends around, ‘Why am I the only one being photographed’,” Zaenal said, quoting Mary Jane.

Journalists were only allowed to take photos of her, but not to interview her. 

Mary Jane introduces herself in Bahasa Indonesia.

Shortly after, the fashion show began. Mary Jane walked in front of the audience, then went to the podium on a small stage. 

Mary Jane's 'catwalk' for the fashion show.

Nama saya Mary Jane. Saya dari Filipina. Terima kasih,” she said in Bahasa Indonesia, which she has learned to speak over the past 5 years she’s been incarcerated. (My name is Mary Jane. I’m from the Philippines. Thank you.)

A small bow to the audience before going back to her seat.

At the end of the day’s activities, she was named the third place winner in the fashion show. The brief respite from her usual days is over and she returns to waiting for her fate: Whether she will be put to death by a firing squad, or if by some miracle she will be spared. (READ: Aquino to Jokowi: Grant Mary Jane clemency)

For now, the prison still hasn’t received the Supreme Court decision rejecting her request for a case review. Once that decision is received, the Attorney General’s Office will prepare to transfer her to Nusakambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java, where the executions are held, while her lawyers race to file a second case review. Until then, she’ll remain inside Wirogunan Penitentiary. –

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