I. Rationale and Background
“… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”’[ Matthew 25: 34-36]
The Asia Consultation on Forced Migration and Human Trafficking for Labour: A Call for Decent Work and Decent Living held last 9-11 October 2017 in Yangon, Myanmar – jointly organized by the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and Council of Churches in Myanmar (CCM) – provided opportunities for churches and ecumenical organizations as well as migrant serving institutions and grassroots migrant organizations in Asia to work together and strengthen support to combat human trafficking and to campaign for decent work.
One of the important actions made during the said conference is to further such cooperation by supporting the Global Campaign to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso and other victims of human trafficking. The communiqué of the consultation explicitly expressed solidarity with Mary Jane Veloso and her family in their struggle for freedom and for her to be reunited with her family in the Philippines:
“Her case is emblematic of the precarious situation that many trafficking victims and migrant workers in forced migration experience today. The relentless campaign by family, friends, churches and advocates in the Philippines, Indonesia and around the world, is equally emblematic of what united action can do—which is to gain a reprieve from execution from the Indonesian government. But the plight of Mary Jane is far from over. To seek justice for Mary Jane Veloso means seeking the commutation of her death sentence and her release, back to her family and community. It also means seeking redress from her traffickers and bringing them to justice.”[ Communiqué of Asia Consultation on Forced Migration and Human Trafficking: A Call for Decent Work and Decent Living ]
With an opportunity to further the cooperation and partnership, a follow-up activity is necessary to broaden the scope of solidarity and service not only with migrants but also with refugees and uprooted people in Asia. The case of Mary Jane Veloso will serve as a take-off point to broaden the scope of solidarity and services that churches and ecumenical organizations and other faith based organizations as well as migrant serving institutions can provide to migrants, refugees and uprooted people in defense of their lives, human rights and dignity.
Migrants, refugees and uprooted people their struggle for decent lives, human rights and dignity
In recent years there is a phenomenal increase in the global population of migrants from the year 2000 to 2017. According to International Organization for Migration (IOM) study there are now an estimated 258 million people living in a country other than their country of birth — an increase of 49% since 2000.[ International Migration Reports 2017 (Highlights), https://www.un.org/development/desa/publications/international-migration-report-2017.html%5D The numbers do not includes refugees and uprooted people who are also victims of forced migration and are compelled with an urgency to survive.
Such increasing numbers of migrants, refugees and uprooted people leaving their families behind are attributed to wars and ongoing conflicts, including those arising from political persecution and religious and cultural intolerance around the world, have resulted into forced migration, creating unprecedented numbers and massive movement of refugees and uprooting of peoples. The uneven development of economies and labor export policies of certain countries have resulted into forced movement of peoples seeking employment and other economic opportunities. We must put to stop the scourge of human smuggling and trafficking in persons that occur along the path and chain of migration and mobility.[ Churches Witnessing with Migrants (CWWM), Eight International Consultation, Berlin, Germany, 25-27 June 2017]
Amidst the struggle of migrants, refugees and uprooted people for decent lives, human rights and dignity, churches and ecumenical organizations and other faith-based organizations are facing the challenge to stand in solidarity with them until the fulfillment of their just and legitimate aspirations are realized. Extending services that address the immediate need of migrants, refugees and uprooted peoples that cater to their wellbeing and survival (hospitality, accompaniment and acts of mercy).
II. About the Interfaith Solidarity Mission
The Interfaith Mission for Solidarity and Service with Migrants, Refugees and Uprooted People is a joint initiative of faith groups, migrant-serving institutions, advocates and migrant organizations to address the problem of forced migration and human trafficking. It is a three day event scheduled on 12 to 14 of September 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia and is aimed to contribute to the Global Campaign to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso and to strengthen support and cooperation among migrants and churches and ecumenical and other faith based organizations in Asia Pacific and Middle East Region to stand in solidarity and render services with migrants, refugees and uprooted people in Asia.
The Interfaith Mission is a follow-up activity and a unity made after the Asia Consultation on Human Trafficking and Forced Migration: A Call for Decent Labour and Living Wage in Yangon, Myanmar.
The specific objectives of the Interfaith Solidarity Mission are the following:
1)Contribute to the global campaign to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso and other victims of human trafficking in Asia Pacific and Middle East regions while raising the awareness of participants on the crisis of migration affecting the migrants, refugees and uprooted people and their families;
2)Come-up with plan of actions that can strengthen regional cooperation and coordination in combatting human trafficking, saving the lives of the victims and advancing the right for decent work, justice and human rights;
3)To develop a system of referrals to be coordinated in the region to protect the lives of the labor trafficking victims; migrants, refugees and uprooted people in Asia Pacific and Middle East regions
III. Activities of the Interfaith Solidarity Mission:
The following are activities of the interfaith mission and what are being expected:
1. Regional (Asia-Pacific) Interfaith Solidarity Conference: A one and a half-day conference on solidarity and service with migrants, refugees and uprooted people. Conference resolutions and statement as well as platform of cooperation and partnership among different churches and ecumenical organizations and other faith based organizations, migrant serving institutions and grassroots migrant organizations will be discussed.
2. Forum and Dialogue with Indonesian Government Officials: An afternoon forum and dialogue with some government officials of Indonesia including from the office of the Ministry of Labor, human rights and women commissions and some Parliamentarian will be in attendance to discuss the issues of labor trafficking and the rights and protections of migrants. Local communities, leaders of faith based organizations and migrant organizations in Indonesia will be invited along with international participants to attend the event.
3. Jail visitation: Some international participants (those who signify to join) as well as leaders from Communion of Churches in Indonesia and Kaluarga Besar Buruh Migran Indonesia (KABAR BUMI) and other human rights and justice advocates will visit Mary Jane Veloso in prison. It is a good opportunity to hear Mary Jane’s story of hope and struggle and convey our solidarity. Participants need to reserve a whole day for this activity including travel from Jakarta to Yogyakarta and return. Also please be noted that the prison authorities only allowed maximum of 10 persons per visit/day.
The Communion of Churches in Indonesia/ Persekutuan Gereja-Gereja di Indonesia (NCCI/PGI), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Migrante International, Kaluarga Besar Buruh Migran Indonesia (KABAR BUMI) and the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) jointly organize the interfaith mission.
Arrival date: 11 September 2018 (Tuesday)
Departure date: 14 September 2018 (Friday)
15 September (Saturday) – for those who are joining the jail visit on 14th September.VI. Accommodation and Conference Venue
Communion of Churches in Indonesia (CCI)
(Persekutuan Gereja-Gereja Di Indonesia – PGI)
Jl. Salemba Raya 10 Jakarta 10430, Indonesia
Tel. +62-21-3150451, 3150455 / Website: http://www.pgi.or.id