We in the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) celebrate the victory of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih as the Wanchai District Court in Hong Kong has ruled in her favor and found guilty on 18 charges her employer.
As we congratulate her in this much-awaited and much-deserved win, we also congratulate the many member organizations and friends of the IMA in Hong Kong who have steadfastly stood by Erwiana and campaigned with her for justice, the abrogation of repressive and anti-migrant policies in Hong Kong, and an end to modern-day slavery in the territory and elsewhere.
Erwiana did not fight it alone. She became part of a movement of people who have collectively decided to not only demand justice for one person but for many others who also have experienced abuse. She became part of a movement of migrants, locals and many solidarity friends who stood up for human dignity and collective rights and against social exclusion, discrimination and oppression.
Erwiana did not become a symbol of weakness but of strength, more aptly so, of the collective strength of the people. Her victory is proof that we can be triumphant in our struggles if we are united.
But the battle is far from over. In many countries, more Erwianas fall victims to trafficking, exploitation and criminal neglect. As they experience hardships, governments continue to mouth migration for development as if it is the key to solving global poverty, which is wrong and misleading.
Migration for development is a neoliberal framework that will only intensify the commodification of migrant labor. It glosses over the fact that many migrant workers are forced by conditions back home to be parted from their loved ones and find work abroad. Neoliberal globalization is the one that causes both global poverty through imposition of neoliberal policies, the cheapening and commodification of labor and the proliferating modern-day slavery. It also forces the opening of economies and resources of poor countries for exploitation and plunder of foreign monopoly corporations, privatization, deregulation and liberalization, which bring about dire poverty to the peoples of poor countries.
With the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation happening soon, we can expect more bilateral and multilateral agreements to be signed in order to amplify labor migration at the expense of migrant workers and their families.
May Erwiana’s victory become a symbol of hope for many of us who are struggling for our rights and dignity and for a world without forced labor migration.
Justice for Erwiana! Justice for All Migrants Workers! End Modern-Day Slavery!
Reference: Eni Lestari, chairperson
Contact number: 852-96081475