American human rights activist
held by Philippine government
Photos by John
August 14, 2007
Three American activists in the Philippines have been placed
on a watch list by the Philippine government, and one of them
is banned from returning to her home in Los Angeles.
Dr. Annalisa Enrile, Chair of a women's solidarity group Gabriella
Network (GABNet), was scheduled to return home August 5 but was
prevented by Philippine authorties from boarding her flight.
According to a statement released by GABNet, Enrile had checked
her luggage at Philippines Airlines August 5, but was told by
airline agents she was on a watch list and could not leave the
country. Two other GABNet leaders, Ninotchka Rosca and Judith
Mirkinson, have also been placed on the watch list.
The activists had attended the 10th bi-annual Women's International
Solidarity Affair in Manila, a gathering of women from around
the world to address issues including sex trafficking and international
human rights violations.
Rosca and Mirkinson are scheduled to return home today but members
of GABNet are concerned they too may be prevented from boarding
Protestors held a vigil yesterday outside the Philippine Consulate
in San Francisco. The protestors vowed to step up their action
if the Philippine government prohibits Rosca and Mirkinson from
"We see this harassment as basically a silencing method
to the international community," said GABnet member Gemma
Mirkinson, daughter of Judith Mirkinson.
"The [Philippine] government is saying to the international
community, 'We will not allow anyone to come in here to expose
the human rights violations [and] get out of the country and leak
the information to the rest of the world,'" Mirkinson stated.
According to Mirkinson, the Philippine government is targeting
GABNet activists for their campaign to defend Liaz Largoza-Maza.
Maza is a representative of the Gabriela Women's Party in the
In a letter posted on a website,
Mirkinson testified that she was persecuted by President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo's administration for standing up for human rights.
She has authored bills that protect the rights of women and children
and sponsored measures supporting worker's rights.
Mirkinson said that GABNet led an all-women human rights mission
to the Philippines last year to expose the Philippine armed forces
for alleged state sponsored perpetration of murder and assassination.
She alleges as many as nine hundred activists have been slain
by the Philippine government under Arroyo's administration, and
that ninety of them had been women who worked closely with GABNet.
An Amnesty International report released in May 2007 points to
ninety-six political killings committed by Arroyo's administration.
In July 2007 Arroyo's administration enacted the Human Security
Act sanctioning government surveillance and warrantless wire tapping.