Thursday, August 16, 2007

Philippines: Detained Anti-Trafficking Activists Return to US

LOS ANGELES, CA - GABRIELA Network (GABNet) National Chairperson and USC Professor Dr. Annalisa Enrile was greeted by GABNet members, friends, family, lawyers and members of the media as she exited US Customs at the Tom Bradley International Terminal of LAX this evening. She and two other GABNet leaders, Judith Mirkinson and Ninotchka Rosca, all landed in the United States at approximately 8:30 PM local time, with Mirkinson and Rosca arriving in San Francisco.

At Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, the three human rights activists attempted to board flights back home to the US despite the fact that they had been placed on a "watchlist" by Philippine authorities. The women spent over an hour besieged by smug immigration authorities at the Ninoy Aquino Airport, until GABRIELA Women’s Partylist Representative Liza Maza and GABRIELA Attorney Alnie Foja intervened.

In spite of being denied the right to board her first flight on August 5th, US-born Enrile and the two other women were never informed of the reason their names appeared on a watchlist. The only reason they were targeted, the women speculate, is because of their efforts to defend human rights in the Philippines. “I am glad to be back home,” Dr. Enrile states, “but this will not discourage me from going back to the Philippines and exposing the tyrannical policies of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime.” Since President Macapagal Arroyo took office in 2001, there have been approximately 900 murders and disappearances of activists, clergy, labor leaders and their families, 90 of which were GABRIELA members or affiliates. The Philippines is also cited as being the most dangerous country for journalists after Iraq, according to the International Press Institute...


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