04/27/2015, 00.00
INDONESIA - HONG KONG
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From Jakarta to Hong Kong, activists seek pardon for Filippino on death row

by Mathias Hariyadi
Yesterday afternoon there was a rally in the Indonesian capital to ask president Jokowi to spare the life of a young innocent woman. Human rights groups and feminists have promoted similar demonstrations in Hong Kong. Her defense team files a last desperate appeal. The execution scheduled for tomorrow April 28th.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - From Manila to Jakarta, via Hong Kong, the protests and solidarity is mounting for Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, a 30 year-old Filipino mother on death row in Indonesia.

The mother of two young children was sentenced to death - although presumed innocent, because she was the victim of a scam - for international drug trafficking; according to some sources, the authorities say they are finalizing all the details before proceeding with her execution, scheduled for tomorrow, April 28th.

Meanwhile, the defense team filed a last desperate appeal claiming there is new evidence confirming the woman’s innocence.

Yesterday afternoon, a crowd gathered in the capital, calling on  President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to spare the young woman’s  life who, in recent days, met with relatives in prison in the context of the last visit before her death. Simultaneously, also in Hong Kong a group of Indonesian migrant workers organized a peaceful demonstration to express solidarity with Mary Jane.

Speaking to AsiaNews Indonesian activist Sringatindari, committed to defending the rights of migrants in the governorate and Macao, said that "I have come to the event in Hong Kong to support the campaign, because many Indonesian migrant workers suffer the same 'fate' of Mary Jane : they are victims of cartels of international drug trafficking and exploited as couriers. " For this, the activist adds, "I am firmly opposed to the death penalty."

The rally held yesterday in Hong Kong gathered several groups in defense of human rights and activists fighting for the protection of women, especially those who migrate abroad in search of a job. Currently the 30 year old Filipina domestic worker- as the other nine sentenced to death for drug trafficking - is locked up in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison of Nusakambangan, the so-called Indonesian "Alcatraz". The Indonesian authorities have only suspended the execution of Serge Atlaoui, a French citizen, because of strong diplomatic pressure from Paris on the government in Jakarta.

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, at age 25 moved to Malaysia to work as a domestic worker. A local boss, active in recruiting migrant workers and placing them among various families, entrusted her with an assignment: to carry a suitcase - the contents of which the young Filipino knew nothing- and deliver it to some people who would have met her at the Yogyakarta airport in Indonesia.

On reaching her destination, Mary Jane was checked by border police who discovered, 2.6 kg of heroin in the bag, worth a total of about 500 thousand dollars. That was in April 2010 and since then the woman’s judicial and personal ordeal began. During the trial she was not given adequate assistance, and only recently, thanks to the efforts of the priest, has her drama began circulating within the Catholic community first, and then public opinion.

There are about 10 million overseas Filipino workers, most of whom see migration as the only chance to escape poverty. In the past the government in Manila has warned citizens of the danger of being involved, even unconsciously, in the international drug trade. Worldwide there are at least 125 Filipinos on death row, many of them convicted because of crimes linked to drug trafficking. Last week the Indonesian Supreme Court rejected the request to reopen the case involving the young Mary Jane; Manila has filed a second appeal to the authorities in Jakarta, so far without any concrete results.

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