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Fil-Am activist recently abducted in the Philippines

May.24.2009

i woke up today and the news below shook me to my core.

four years ago, i became a member of BAYAN-USA after learning about the political situation in the Philippines and the rising political killings occurring under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime. i watched documentaries like The Echo of Bullets (about political killings and abductions), Aklasan (about the Hacienda Luisita farmers massacre), and There’s Blood In Your Coffee (about Nestle workers strike and the succeeding killings), and the pleas for help by those who have been victimized moved me. since then, i’ve done organizing work around similar issues, raising awareness around the corrupt government of the Philippines, learning/educating about the poor conditions that the basic Philippine people are living in, and being critical of how the US has contributed to the deterioration of my home country. BAYAN-USA has been a space where i’ve found a voice to articulate my pain and anger into strength and empowerment. it has been a space where i developed an identity rooted in my concrete experience as a migrant Filipino, and has been the inspiration and influence for my budding identity as an artist.

melissa roxas is me. i am melissa roxas.

i don’t know melissa personally, but i know her process and passion intimately because ours is one and the same. she loved art, and wanted to make art for the people. she was a founding member of Habi-Arts LA, and wanted to promote political and artistic empowerment in others. she wanted to share herself to a cause she believed in, and art was one means that she was able to do so. she is a sister to some, a kasama to many, and a freedom loving fighter through and through.

melissa roxas is me. i am melissa roxas.

and because i know she would do the same, i will keep going. i will continue to do the work we need to do to uncover the truths that they keep trying to hide. i will strive to become even half the artist that melissa is, and this movement will birth a thousand more melissas who will scream, and shout, and fight, and live, and love, until we are all free.

melissa roxas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 24, 2009

Reference: Kuusela Hilo, BAYAN-USA Vice Chair, 818-395-9207, vicechair@bayanusa.org

Rhonda Ramiro, BAYAN-USA Secretary General, 415-377-2599, secgen@bayanusa.org

SURFACE FILIPINO-AMERICAN ACTIVIST MELISSA ROXAS NOW

BAYAN-USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino American organizations and chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan Philippines), is calling on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Department of National Defense, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately surface Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent who was abducted in the Philippines on May 19. BAYAN-USA also urgently calls on our representatives in the U.S. Congress to act quickly to ensure the safe return of Roxas.

Roxas is a well-known Filipino American activist, who served as the first Regional Coordinator of BAYAN-USA in Los Angeles and co-founded the cultural organization Habi Arts. Roxas is an active human rights advocate and was instrumental in organizing a BAYAN-USA contingent that participated in the International Solidarity Mission in 2005, an international fact finding mission that called attention to the escalating human rights violations in the Philippines. Roxas went to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights work, where she became a full time volunteer health worker. She was abducted on May 19, 2009 at approximately 1:30 PM in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac. She was with two other volunteers, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.

Based on reports filed by the human rights group KARAPATAN and the La Paz police, Roxas and her companions were taken by at least 8 armed, hooded men riding two motorcycles and a Besta van without any license plate numbers. There has been no word on the whereabouts and condition of Roxas and her companions since the abduction. The circumstances of Roxas’ abduction typify the abductions and enforced disappearances of over 200 innocent civilians, allegedly last seen in the hands of suspected state security forces.

“We are deeply concerned about the abduction of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. We call for Melissa and her companions to be immediately surfaced unharmed,” said BAYAN-USA Secretary General Rhonda Ramiro. “We condemn the ongoing abductions and human rights violations that have been rampant under the Arroyo administration and victimized thousands of innocent people.”

The search for Roxas and her companions will be spearheaded by the human rights organization KARAPATAN, while BAYAN-USA, its member organizations, and allies will undertake an international campaign to exert pressure on the Arroyo government to surface Roxas. “We appeal to our elected officials, members of the Filipino American community, and all people in the U.S. who believe in human rights to take action to surface Melissa and her companions. Since we were founded in 2005, BAYAN-USA has campaigned ceaselessly for an end to the human rights violations in the Philippines, and we will not stop until we obtain justice for Melissa and all victims of human rights violations under Arroyo.”

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