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STATEMENT | 2 years of unjust imprisonment

STATEMENT | 2 years of unjust imprisonment

Family and friends of political prisoner Amanda Echanis hold benefit gig to call for her freedom

The Free Amanda Echanis Network (FAEN) held a benefit concert at the Commission on Human Rights’ Liwasang Diokno in Quezon City a week before International Human Rights Day and two years after Cagayan peasant women organizer’s December 2 arrest. It was called “Panata sa Paglaya: A Benefit Gig for the Immediate Release of Amanda Echanis and All Political Prisoners.”

FAEN reported that Amanda Socorro Lacaba Echanis, a writer and Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women Cagayan provincial chapter organiser, was the daughter of extrajudicial killing victim Randall “Ka Randy” Echanis, the Anakpawis Party-list National Chairperson. The military raided her home in Baggao town at 3:30am on December 2, 2020, and illegally detained her until the police arrived with a search warrant. She was charged with illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives with government-fabricated evidence, including an M16 assault rifle, one long plastic magazine, one long steel magazine, 20 live M16 rifle ammunition, and two hand grenades. Echanis was raising her less than a month-old child, and her small frame could not carry the alleged evidence. She was imprisoned in Tuguegarao City’s Cagayan Provincial Jail for two years.

Amada Echanis’ unconditional and immediate release after two years in prison is justified because she was a political prisoner. Like other political prisoners, Amanda has endured false charges and was denied freedom. Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National Chairperson and FAEN co-convenor, said, “As we continue to demand her release, the network demands to hold the perpetrators accountable for these rights violations.”

FAEN said the activity was part of the campaign to free Amanda and all political prisoners. Her family, friends, organisations, and the international community performed and sent messages of support.. 

“Since her arrest, various activities, lobbying, protests, and cultural events were held for the cause and at present, we are still calling for all democratic-loving people to join us,” Soriano said. 

Echanis was one of 840 political prisoners, including an increasing number of peasant women and organisers. Amihan leaders Genalyn Avelino, Danna Marcellana, Azucena Garubat, Ma. Lindy Perocho, Imelda Sultan, and others were also killed.

The FAEN pledged to condemn Echanis’ illegal arrest, fabricated charges, and unjust imprisonment. At the December 10 International Human Rights Day protest in Manila, the group would demand her immediate release and escalate mass campaigns until she was released.

FAEN members include Amanda’s family and friends, Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, Rural Women Advocates, Artista para Rebolusyong Pangkultura, National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates, Gantala Press, and others. ###