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Monthly Archives: July 2009

CHA CHA , Gloria….. IBASURA(JUNK)!!

The people do not want to vote for CHA CHA (Charter Change) because they do bot want to see President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo(GMA) to become the prime minister of the Philippines.

GMA has been had a history of scandals from the Garci  tape scandal and NBN/ ZTE corruption. She has lost the people’s trust due to these scandals, moreover, the people  voice their needs and resentment for the GRP. The needs of the people are not met but are silenced by means of abduction and polical killings.

As more contradictions happen the people resist. Students are outraged that Arroyo’s willing to prolong  her reign of power in the government will produce more harm to many Filipinos. The students have the responsibility to unify together to overthrow CHA CHA and the reign of GMA.

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The APIA  spoken word and poetry summit is a gathering of spoken word artists, poets, writers, musicians, thespians, activists, organizers, and artists throughout the world who convene based on the commonality of their Asian American, Asian, and/or Pacific Islander identity.  Since 2001, the Summit has gathered every two years in a different city in the United States, and for a span for four days engage in workshops, performances, and discussions directed toward the upliftment of the APIA arts and activism community.  In the past Summits have occured in Seattle (2001), Chicago (2003), Boston (2005), and New York City (2007).

This year, the 5th APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit will take place in the California Bay Area from July 30 to August 2.
Click here for details.

It’s the final fundraiser for the Indigenous Delegation to Palestine traveling August 1-17, 2009!
http://indigenousdelegation.wordpress.com/

Tickets: $10 | ALL proceeds go to the delegation, which is a 100% grassroots effort – come bless us with your presence and energy! This send-off party features art and performance from Palestinian, Native, Xicano, Filipino and other communities!! Holla if you want to be involved!

ART GALLERY
Richard Castaneda
Nijla Mu’min
NuBe Iapalkuetlaxtli
artivista***
Dignidad Rebelde posters
Drama One
and more…

PERFORMANCES
DJ SAKE 1
Hoop Dancer Sage Romero
The Genie (skratch guitar)
Victor Duarte
Flash & Native Don (hip-hop)
Spoken Word by:
Dina Omar
Jennifer Fox Bennett
& Istuyee Montez-Bearchild
more to be confirmed…

FOOD

SPECIAL GUEST
Michel Shehadeh

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WHY AN INDIGENOUS DELEGATION? Did you know that the Palestine/Israel border is built by the same company that built the California/Mexico border? There are big differences between the societies in the U.S. and in Palestine but there are also similarities in both struggles. There is the struggle of keeping tradition and culture alive. Cultrural traits relative to both countries such as: traditional dancing, ceremonies and sacred sites are disappearing because of colonization. In both countries there is a huge disregard towards land by the people in power. In the U.S. sacred land is being destroyed and paved for the “necessities” of modern life. Palestinian homes and land are being destroyed to make way for Jewish settlements. By going to Palestine the delegation hopes to show more than just solidarity with the Palestinian people, we want to join the international struggle against imperialism. The delegation is going out to support our Palestinian partners and to learn their ways of resistance. We will bring back these experiences and share with our communities.

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And FOOD! / No drugs no alcohol / Also check out our Film Festival JULY 22: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=123274502952&ref=mf

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/166280/US-Embassy-gathers-more-info-on-Fil-Am-torture-victim

US Embassy gathers more info on Fil-Am ‘torture’ victim

06/30/2009 | 08:26 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The US Embassy in Manila is gathering more information on the case of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas who was allegedly abducted and tortured by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) last month.

US Embassy spokesperson Rebecca Thompson told GMANews.TV that they were aware of the allegations hurled against the military by Roxas at a Los Angeles press conference last Sunday.

“We take seriously the safety and security of American citizens and are seeking further information about this case,” Thompson said.

Roxas can still seek the full protection of the US as she has not applied yet for dual citizenship despite having both Filipino parents.

Thompson, however, was mum whether the action they took was calling on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to step into the case as Roxas’ legal counsel Arnedo Valera claimed.

Valera reported that the FBI had already informed them that they would begin the investigation on Roxas’ allegations of abuse in the hands of Philippine soldiers. US officials in Manila have not confirmed this as of posting time.

In a sworn affidavit, Roxas claimed that she was abducted on the afternoon of May 19 by 15 armed men believed to be members of the military, while on a medical mission in La Paz town in Tarlac. Her two other companions, John Edward Jandoc and Juanito Carabeo, were also allegedly kidnapped.

She said they were taken to a van, blindfolded, and handcuffed on the way to what she presumed was Fort Magsaysay, a military camp in Nueva Ecija province.

Roxas related that she was “interrogated” and “beaten up” several times. She repeatedly demanded to see her lawyer and stressed that she had rights, too, but her captors only told her that the concept of “rights” was nonexistent.

She said she was held captive for six days and upon her release on May 25, she was given a subscriber’s identification module (SIM) card through which her abductors would communicate with her and monitor her actions.

Valera said Roxas would seek legal action in federal courts for damages for the Intentional Tort of an Unlawful Kidnapping, where the alleged victim could seek punitive and compensatory damages against her identified assailants or initiate the case and litigation against the Philippine government.

AFP spokesperson Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. already expressed reservations in dragging the entire government in the case as this would further complicate the matter.

Brawner stressed that an internal inquiry found that military personnel were not responsible for Roxas’ alleged abduction and torture and that such an incident might have been “fabricated.”

Although Press Secretary Cerge Remonde already stated that the Palace is ready to face any probe on the alleged kidnapping, Valera urged the government to owe responsibility over the incident.

“The Philippine government must not shy away from the responsibility. They must pursue investigating the AFP,” Valera said.

Data culled by GMANews.TV from the human rights group Karapatan showed that from January 2001 to March 2009, it documented 1,017 cases of extrajudicial killings; 1, 010 victims of torture, 201 cases of forced disappearances; and 203 victims of abduction.

In 2007, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston reported that the Arroyo administration, through the military, had been carrying out a national policy of killing leftist activists. [See: Palace ready to face probe on ‘torture’ of Fil-Am activist] – Joseph Holandes Ubalde, GMANews.TV

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http://www.gmanews.tv/story/166164/Palace-ready-to-face-probe-on-torture-of-Fil-Am-activist

Palace ready to face probe on ‘torture’ of Fil-Am activist

SOPHIA DEDACE, GMANews.TV

06/29/2009 | 11:10 AM

DARK PLACE. In between sobs, Melissa Roxas on Sunday relates her experience in the hands of her captors. BAYAN Photos

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is prepared to face a possible probe after Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) abducting and torturing her in May, Malacañang said Monday.

“The government is prepared to act accordingly. We just hope that this is not used for propaganda,” Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said in a phone interview with GMANews.TV.

Last Sunday (Manila time), Roxas spoke at a press conference in Los Angeles, California to recount her ordeal. She maintained that military operatives abducted and tortured her last May in Tarlac province.

Roxas’s lawyer said he and his client would raise the matter before the US State Department and the United Nations.

Lawyer Arnedo Valera said that since his client is an American citizen, she could seek legal action in federal courts for damages for the Intentional Tort of an Unlawful Kidnapping.

Under the Intentional Tort case, Roxas could seek punitive and compensatory damages against her identified assailants or initiate the case and litigation against the Philippine government, Valera said.

“Deliberate torture was perpetrated against a US citizen, under the color of official authority. It violates universally accepted norms of international human rights law, and such a violation of international law constitutes a violation of the domestic law of the US,” Valera said in a phone patch statement during the press briefing.

AFP unmoved

The Philippine military, for its part, welcomed the looming inquiry sought by Roxas before the US State Department and the UN.

“We welcome that, because this is an opportunity for us to clarify that the AFP has nothing to do with her alleged torture and abduction,” AFP spokesperson Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. told GMANews.TV in a phone interview.

Brawner, however, said that the process would be complicated because the matter would constitute “government to government negotiations already.”

The military official reiterated that when the AFP leadership learned of Roxas’ allegations, it conducted an internal inquiry and found that military personnel were not responsible for Roxas’ alleged abduction and torture and that such an incident might have been “fabricated.”

“We initiated a probe upon learning of the issue last month, and our investigation showed that the 7th Infantry Division in Tarlac was not responsible for anything that happened to Ms. Roxas,” Brawner said.

’Dark place’

In her sworn affidavit, Roxas said that on the afternoon of May 19, 2009, she was on a medical mission in La Paz town in Tarlac when 15 armed men believed to be members of the military abducted her and two of her companions (John Edward Jandoc and Juanito Carabeo).

She said they were taken to a van, blindfolded, and handcuffed on the way to what she presumed was Fort Magsaysay, a military camp in Nueva Ecija province.

Roxas related that she was “interrogated” and “beaten up” several times. She repeatedly demanded to see her lawyer and stressed that she had rights, too, but her captors only told her that the concept of “rights” was nonexistent.

She said she was held captive for six days and upon her release on May 25, she was given a subscriber’s identification module (SIM) card through which her abductors would communicate with her and monitor her actions.

Roxas added that her abductors also warned her not to tell anyone about the incident, especially the human rights group Karapatan.

On May 28, two days after she surfaced, Roxas sought court protection by filing a petition for the issuance of the writ of amparo at the Supreme Court. The high tribunal granted her plea and ordered the Court of Appeals to conduct proceedings on the case.

Roxas then returned to the US in the first week of June. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. told GMANews.TV in a phone interview on Sunday that Roxas’ life was in danger here in the Philippines.

In the Los Angeles press conference, Roxas said she still carried the trauma of her ordeal, and that relating the experience was like returning to “that dark place.”

Still, she said that she needed to speak the truth to bring to light supposed human rights violations in the Philippines.

“I want the world to know what happened because the Philippine government and military should not get away with what they did to me… and they cannot get away with what they did to many other people,” she said.

Roxas, a founding member of the cultural organization Habi-Arts in Los Angeles and Southern California representative for Bayan-USA, went to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights advocacy.

She arrived amid an acute human rights crisis in the Philippines that includes reports of rampant extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrest, torture, and summary executions, Bayan said.

In 2005, Roxas participated in an international fact-finding mission investigating human rights violations throughout the Philippines under the Arroyo administration.

Culture of impunity

If proven that Roxas indeed suffered at the hands of the military, she is lucky to have survived to tell her story.

Data culled by GMANews.TV from the human rights group Karapatan showed that from January 2001 to March 2009, it documented 1,017 cases of extrajudicial killings; 1, 010 victims of torture, 201 cases of forced disappearances; and 203 victims of abduction.

In 2007, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston reported that the Arroyo administration, through the military, had been carrying out a national policy of killing leftist activists.

Alston doubted the military’s claim that the killings were a result of the purge within the ranks of the New People’s Army to neutralize spies and undermine the government.

“The military is in a state of denial concerning the numerous extrajudicial executions in which its soldiers are implicated… The evidence that the (NPA) is engaged in a large-scale purge is strikingly unconvincing,” the report read.

Alston called the state of denial of the military on the scope of the killings as “a cynical attempt to displace responsibility.”

Early 2009, Alston came out with a follow-up report and said that the government had failed to make “substantial progress” in curbing human rights abuses in the Philippines.

Malacañang and the AFP had both bristled at Alston’s reports, saying these were “half-baked” and were “unfair.”

In Monday’s phone interview with GMANews.TV, Brawner stressed that torture and extralegal killings are not part of the military’s policies. – GMANews.TV

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2009

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, 415-377-2599, secgen@bayanusa.org

U.S. CITIZEN ABDUCTED AND TORTURED BY SUSPECTED PHILIPPINE MILITARY AGENTS TO SPEAK PUBLICLY FOR FIRST TIME

U.N. Day in Support of Torture Victims Marked with Press Conference by Torture Survivor Melissa Roxas

What: Press Conference of Melissa Roxas, recent victim of abduction and torture

When: Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time: 4-5:30 PM

Where: Echo Park United Methodist Church

1226 N. Alvarado St.

Los Angeles, CA 90026

Live Web Stream: www.bayan.ph

LOS ANGELES, CA – In her first public appearance since being released from captivity, Melissa Roxas, a U.S. citizen abducted and tortured in the Philippines from May 19-25, will hold a press conference to describe the human rights abuses she endured while held for six days in an alleged military camp. Ms. Roxas, an American human rights advocate of Filipino descent, is the first known American citizen to have become a victim of abduction and torture in the Philippines, a country which has drawn international condemnation for state-sponsored human rights atrocities.

In a sworn affidavit submitted to the Philippine Supreme Court, Ms. Roxas described being abducted at gunpoint by several heavily armed men, brought to what she believed is a military camp, held against her will, questioned without the presence of an attorney, beaten repeatedly, and asphyxiated using plastic bags before being released. During the press conference, Ms. Roxas is expected to demand accountability from the Philippine government and military, who she holds responsible for her ordeal, as well as the U.S. government for providing funding and training to the Philippine military. Reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Philippine-based human rights organization Karapatan, and Human Rights Watch have overwhelmingly concluded that the Philippine military is responsible for systematically carrying out human rights violations such as abduction, torture and extra-judicial killings against innocent civilians. Nearly $1 billion worth of U.S. military aid and materiel has been granted to the Philippines since 1999, the year the U.S.- Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement was enacted.

The experience of Ms. Roxas is considered typical for the 200 cases of abduction and 1,010 cases of torture recorded since Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president of the Philippines in 2001. The Philippine government’s quick denial of responsibility for Ms. Roxas’ abduction and torture is also considered a typical response; in his 2007 report on the Philippines, U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston cited such systematic denial by the government as one of the primary obstacles to stopping the rampant human rights violations plaguing the country. In his 2009 follow-up report, Alston indicated a general failure of the Arroyo government to stop the persistent human rights violations. In April 2009, the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) also released a report detailing the use of torture by the Philippine military.

At the press conference, Ms. Roxas’ legal counsel, Attorney Arnedo Valera, will explain the potential legal remedies that are being explored, including the filing of a tort action in U.S. Federal Court for punitive and compensatory damages against her identified assailants or the Arroyo government in the absence of named assailants; the lodging of a private complaint before the U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Desk against the Philippine government for the violation of the fundamental rights of a U.S. citizen; and the filing of a complaints before the appropriate U.N. agencies for violations of the International Covenant Against Torture, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.

The press conference will be held in Los Angeles, CA and broadcast live on the website www.bayan.ph. Media in the Philippines will be hosted simultaneously by Bayan Philippines and will be able to ask questions in real time. The U.S.-based press conference is sponsored by the Justice for Melissa Roxas Campaign, whose membership includes Ms. Roxas’ legal counsel, BAYAN-USA, GABRIELA USA, Katarungan Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights, and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. ###

For those who have missed the live feed of Melissa’s Press Conference here are the recorded videos:

For Immediate Release
June 26, 2009

Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com, 415-244-9734
GABRIELA-USA Demands Justice for Melissa Roxas
and Victims of Torture and State Repression
    In 1987, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, passed an international human rights instrument to ensure that states neither condone torture within their borders nor return citizens to countries with the chance of torture upon their arrival. On June 26, 2009 marking this convention, the International Day in Support of Torture Victims, in solidarity with anyone affected by torture reminds us about the injustices that ring across the world as torture is still commonplace practice in militarized situations, occupations and war.

    For GABRIELA USA, a national alliance of progressive Filipino women’s organizations in the US, the significance of this day hits very close to home. Only one month earlier, Melissa Roxas, a Filipino American and US citizen was abducted in the Philippines between May 19-25 during her time working as a community health worker. Roxas, an avid human rights advocate and member of BAYAN USA, joins thousands of Filipino citizens who have fallen victim to the state repression under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime in the Philippines.

    An international campaign resonating in many countries where Filipino immigrants and migrants live and work has brought about attention to the human rights crisis in the Philippines beginning in 2001 with the onset of the US-funded Balikatan military training exercises. Throughout the long and drawn out George W. Bush administration, militarism and military aid in the Philippines increased along with the record of human rights violations; including extrajudicial murders, abductions, torture, summary executions and heightened harassment of community leaders and common people.

    Only a month before Roxas’ abduction and torture, US troops in the thousands were deployed to the central region of Luzon, Philippines; a stone’s throw away from the site of Roxas’ forced disappearance. On the day that Roxas and 2 of her companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc, were taken from their work site, a police report was quickly filed and clamor began for their surfacing. The occupation of US troops in the Philippines justifies a cruel and unjust witch hunt for “terrorists” that are, in reality, community health workers and human rights advocates. The Philippine armed forces have historically used military training exercises to legitimate harassment and crude investigations.

    With all of this said and done, a pretentious GMA-led effort through the channels of Philippine judiciary and foreign relations offices has claimed that Roxas’ abduction was staged. They have casted doubt on Roxas’ case even in the face of the successfully passed Writ of Amparo filed against Arroyo and Secretary of Defense Gilberto Teodora, among others. We will not stay silent as the GMA regime seeks to discredit Melissa Roxas.

    On this International Day Against Torture, GABRIELA USA is standing shoulder to shoulder with Melissa Roxas for her fight for justice. We call on US politicians, lawmakers, representatives of foreign relations committee, members of budget committees and President Barack Obama to rescind the increasing military aid budget to the Philippines. We demand that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime surface all political prisoners, including Karen Empeno and Sheryl Cadapan! We ask our Filipino American community to join with us in solidarity with torture victims and across the world to say, “NO MORE!”

Justice for Melissa Roxas!

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For more information regarding Melissa Roxas’ case, including a poem inspired by her story, please visit www.gabusa.org.

**URGENT ACTION ALERT!**
* STAND AGAINST TORTURE ON JUNE 26, THE UN INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE


SIGN THE EMERGENCY ONLINE PETITION


*ASK THE US APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TO CUT US MILITARY AID TO THE PHILIPPINES AND TO REQUIRE THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT TO FULLY COMPLY WITH INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE CASE OF MELISSA ROXAS!


June 26 is the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, a particularly significant day for those of us concerned about the continued use of this criminal act worldwide. Most recently, a US citizen of Filipino descent has fallen victim to this cruel and degrading act in the Philippines.
Her case is one of thousands of documented cases of torture, assassinations, kidnappings, and other forms of human rights violations that have gone uninvestigated and unresolved in the Philippines. Just last month the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) expressed grave concern at the routine, widespread, and unpunished use of torture by military, police, and other state officials in their country report on the Philippines. As reported by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston, in his 2007 report, although credible evidence points to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the main culprits behind these human rights violations, they are protected by the Philippine government’s culture of impunity which allows them to roam free. The Philippine government denies any responsibility for and frequently attempts to cover up these human rights violations, as they are also attempting to do in the case of Melissa Roxas despite her sworn testimony about her experience.
The Philippines is one of the largest recipients of US military aid in Southeast Asia. This means US tax dollars are being used as resources by the AFP to continue to perpetrate these human rights violations against innocent civilians. As US taxpayers, we need to tell our government that we DO NOT want the blood of the Filipino people on our hands.
At present, the US Senate Appropriations Committee is in the process of shaping the next US military aid package to the Philippines, and could come out with a decision as early as mid-July. Our Senators and Representatives have an influence on how our tax dollars are spent abroad. They have a responsibility to represent our concerns about how US military aid is being used to commit—and cover up—human rights atrocities in the Philippines, and to express our desire that NOT 1 CENT of our tax dollars support human rights violations in the Philippines.
In addition, a request has been made of the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee Patrick Leahy to introduce language into this year’s Appropriations bill that would require the Philippine military to full comply with the Writ of Amparo proceedings and any investigation into the case of Melissa Roxas. Please call your Senator/Representative to express your support for a thorough and impartial investigation into Melissa Roxas’ case.
SIGN THE EMERGENCY ONLINE PETITION
Below is a sample text you can use as an email, phone script, or fax to your member of Congress. You can also draft your own language.
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(SAMPLE TEXT)
Dear Member of the US Appropriations Committee,
The recent abduction, detainment, and torture of an American, Melissa Roxas, in the Philippines last May has me extremely concerned about the US government’s financial allocations to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Roxas, 31, is US citizen of Filipino descent and human rights advocate who was in the middle of a medical relief mission in La Paz, Tarlac, when she and her two companions– Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc– were kidnapped on May 19th, 2009. In a sworn statement, Roxas describes being abducted by approximately 15 armed men, thrown in a van, handcuffed and blindfolded for six days, and dragged from jail cell to jail cell. She recounts being subjected to torture via asphyxiation using a doubled-up plastic bag, repeated beatings to the face and body, and having her head banged repeatedly against the wall by her interrogators. She was denied legal counsel despite her persistent requests. Roxas was dropped off near her relative’s house around 6:30 AM on May 25 and warned not to go to Karapatan, the human rights alliance that handles cases like hers. Her captors left her with a SIM card and phone, which one of her interrogators used to contact her after she was released.
Today, fortunately, Roxas is back safe in her hometown of Los Angeles with her family. Credible sources, including Roxas herself, believe the detainment took place in nearby Fort Magsaysay, a military camp near the town Roxas and her companions were abducted.
As my Senator or Representative, I urge you to remember Melissa and all who have suffered the epidemic of torture, kidnappings, and unlawful detainment at the hands of the Philippine military. I am concerned that US military aid may be providing the “ammunition” (in both a literal and figurative sense) being used to pursue unarmed civilians whom the Arroyo administration has tagged as “Communists.”
I urge you to keep in mind my strong support for a full, impartial investigation into Melissa’s abduction and torture by the Philippine government. I urge you to impress on the US Congress and especially the House and Senate Appropriations Committee that you belong to that *I do not want one cent of my tax dollars going to human rights abuses in the Philippines, and that the Philippine military must fully cooperate with the Writ of Amparo proceedings as well any investigation by the Commission on Human Rights into the case of Melissa Roxas. * I hope you will do everything in your power to ensure that the Philippine government cooperates to the fullest extent in resolving Melissa’s case and in stopping all human rights violations in the Philippines.
As my US Senator/Representative, I urge you to raise your voice on my behalf. Please be a voice of conscience and human rights when your committee and Congress as a whole decides on the next US military aid package to the Philippines. In these tough economic times, many government budget choices are hard. This one shouldn’t be. Our hard-earned tax dollars should be used towards the betterment of society and for public service, not for human rights violations overseas. Please be the change America needs and help the Congress achieve this.
I hope to receive a response from you outlining your position on the human rights crisis in the Philippines and on the case of Melissa Roxas.
Sincerely,

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SIGN THE EMERGENCY ONLINE PETITION