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Maria Jesusa “Sasah” Sta. Rosa

HRD, Spokesperson
Jovenes Anakbayan

Maria Jesusa “Sasah” Sta. Rosa is a youth human rights defender and the spokesperson of Jovenes Anakbayan, a regional chapter of Anakbaya, a Filipino youth organisation that works to organise and mobilise young farmers, workers, students, professionals, fisherfolks, women, minorities and church people, among others to peacefully and actively advocate for the upholding of human rights and democracy.

The climate of impunity in the Philippines, coupled with the administration's encouragement of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug users, as well as the increasingly hard line of the military against the Philippine National Democratic Front , have led to a serious deterioration of the situation of human rights defenders in the country. Since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in May 2016, HRDs have faced a wave of assassinations and violence. Judicial harassment and the criminalization of HRDs remain common; politicians and private actors, such as mining companies, use the justice system to silence those who oppose their interests. HRDs are accused of violent crimes or of belonging to the New People's Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party. HRDs have also reported cases of close surveillance by the police. Since martial law was declared in Mindanao in May 2017, and given the fear that it will be extended to the whole country, human rights defenders are increasingly targeted by threats, acts intimidation and harassment by the military.