04/13/2015, 00.00
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Indonesia, Catholics pray for Filipino on death row

by Mathias Hariyadi
A national prayer campaign for 30 year-old Mary Jane, sentenced to death (though innocent) for drug trafficking. The initiative was launched to coincide with the feast of Divine Mercy. Her family targeted with threats. Her mother: "I fear for my grandchildren’s lives".

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Indonesian Catholics have launched a national prayer campaign for the release of the 30 year-old Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, a single mother of two young children, who was sentenced to death - although presumed innocent as she was the victim of a scam - for international drug trafficking .

The initiative began last weekend, to coincide with the celebrations for the feast of Divine Mercy. Meanwhile, the young woman’s family is being targeted with threats at home and is seeking the help of the Filipino episcopate, after "some suspicious figures" visited their village and asked about them.

The initiative in support of Mary Jane was launched by the vicar general of Semarang Fr. Sukendar Wignyosumarto; the priest has asked for prayers for her release from death row where she is waiting to be executed together with nine other people  convicted for drug trafficking. The woman is locked up in a maximum security prison in  Nusakambangan, in central Java, waiting to appear before the firing squad.

Already on March 31, thanks to the Archbishop of Semarang Mgr. Johannes Pujasumarta, a prayer chain was launched for the 30 year-old Filipino, whose dramatic personal story had long remained unknown. The special prayer for Mary Jane was composed by Fr. Kieser SJ, a lecturer in moral theology as well the woman’s spiritual father in these dark days.

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, a simple woman and mother of two children, 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.

Meanwhile, the girl's family had received threats and is being stalked by unknown persons and fear for their lives. Family members have launched an appeal to the leaders of the Filipino bishops' conference, asking for help after some "unknown persons" visited the village and asked about Mary Jane’s relatives. The "repeated" visits to the village of "suspects" began when the girl's story began circulating in the international media. "We are scared. We cannot even sleep. And I fear for the lives of my grandchildren, "said Celia Veloso, Mary Jane’s mother.

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 announced that it will forward a second appeal to the authorities in Jakarta.

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See also
Duterte: No problem if Jakarta decides to execute Mary Jane Veloso
12/09/2016 12:48
Filipino bishop calls Mary Jane an iconic figure for migrants, urges authorities to stop workers from leaving
For Filipino bishop, Mary Jane Veloso is innocent; those who took advantage of her should be punished
From Jakarta to Hong Kong, activists seek pardon for Filippino on death row
For Fr Tom, abducted in Yemen, Holy Thursday prayer and adoration for the martyrs
21/03/2016 14:57


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