Activism is not Terrorism! Stop terror-tagging in the Philippines

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) speaks out against the vilification campaign of the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Office of the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

The DOJ came out last February 21, 2018 of a collection of names to be considered as terrorist under the Philippines’ Human Security Act. The list of supposed terrorist includes 461 names, along with 188 aliases, among them are UN Rapporteurs, human rights defenders, and leaders of indigenous peoples.

The voluminous number of aliases, including John and Jane Does, opens up virtually anyone, including migrants, for attack. The blanket list can be used by the police to extort money from anyone, by falsely adding their names under John and Jane Does or any among the many aliases. Even our families can be harangued and targeted, under the assumption that the remittance we send is part of terrorist funding.

With this, the Presidency of Mr. Duterte is throwing due process, rule of law and human rights under the bus. This list is made worst by the law giving subpoena power to the police. Fresh are the experiences of laglag-bala (planting bullets inside luggage) where Immigration police extort money from migrants and tourist alike, by accusing them of carrying bullets in their luggage, a transgression which can prevent a person from boarding their flight, aside from detention. But the list above increases the areas where extortion can happen.

As migrants are worried of their families back home but at the same time remain unprotected abroad, it is more unfortunate now that Filipinos are being threatened by this terrorist tagging under Duterte’s regime.

Drop the list! Activism is not terrorism!

No to witch-hunt! No to extortion! Respect human rights!

Reference:
Eni Lestari, IMA chairperson
ima.sect@gmail.com

Taiwan’s Labor Law Amendments Are Anti-Worker

Statement of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) on the recent amendment of the Labor Standards Act in Taiwan

24 January 2018

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) expresses full support to the workers and people of Taiwan who are protesting against and calling for the immediate repeal of the recently approved amendments of the Labor Standards Act.

Under the new amendments, (a) workers can be asked to work 12 days in a row, with a mandatory two days off over two weeks; (b) workers’ break hours will be reduced from 11 to 8 hours between work shifts; (c) their overtime hours will be increased from 46 to 54 per month, yet workers will not be paid more for overtime work; (d) their annual paid holidays can be delayed by one year; and (e) they can be compensated for a “flexible” rest day, in which workers can opt to work during their day off if their employers ask them to (but will pay them based on actual amount of time worked).

Some of these amendments reflect what have reportedly been existing practices of some companies and factories in Taiwan. Tragically, the Legislative Yuan, by approving the amendments, will only legalize what are considered exploitative and anti-worker practices.

These labor amendments open the floodgates for more exploitation of workers, both migrants and locals. For example, employers can legally eliminate overtime payment while not reducing working hours. All workers, especially migrant workers, are at a losing end with a labor law that works against their interest.

Neoliberal globalization is at play here with capitalist profits being placed ahead of workers and people’s rights. What little protection migrant and local workers have in Taiwan is swiftly and mercilessly reduced with every passage of a law that is supposed to serve everyone, not only the privileged few.

The revised labor law definitely works at the detriment of workers’ rights. The capitalists’ development only means the enslavement of workers.

We support and join the call of workers and peoples in Taiwan to immediately and unconditionally repeal the Labor Standards Act’s amendments.

Reference:
Eni Lestari, chairperson
ima.sect@gmail.com

 

Migrants and Peoples Unite Against Trump’s Racism and Xenophobia

IMA Statement on Trump’s “shithole” remarks on El Salvador, Haiti and several African countries

15 January 2018

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” – Donald Trump, January 11, 2018

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) condemns in the strongest terms the racist and xenophobic statements made by US President Donald Trump last January 11, 2018, during a meeting with US lawmakers, as the US government discusses a new immigration policy. Trump particularly mentioned nationals of Haiti, El Salvador and several African countries as “persons from shithole countries”.

“Such brazen disrespect for peoples will only fan the flames of hate directed against migrants, especially those in the United States,” says IMA Chairperson Eni Lestari. “At present, many migrants are already under attack, but the Trump declaration will embolden racist attacks against migrants and people of color.”

According to Lestari, this Trump tirade underscores the racist policy of his administration, while at the same time, glosses over the fact that many of the countries Trump mentioned became and remains poor because of foreign plunder. “Africa is rich in natural resources but pillaging of their natural resource by colonial, neo-colonial and imperialist powers have robbed the people of their wealth.”

“Under neoliberalism, migrants are part of the marauding of wealth. Migrants provide cheap and docile labour crucial in increasing capital accumulation in the hands of the few,” opined Lestari.

Trump’s racism has garnered international condemnations including strongly worded statements from the African Union and several governments like El Salvador. The IMA calls on all migrants and people to combat Trump’s racist statements and actions.

“Migrants and the freedom-loving people of the world need to unite and persist against racism, xenophobia and imperial plunder. As long as there are racists like Trump, we should continue with our struggle,” concluded Lestari.

Reference:
Eni Lestari, chairperson

US – Trump Rejects UN Global Compact on Migrants and Refugees, Grassroots Migrants Will Determine Their Own Future International Migrants Day 2017

Two weeks before International Migrants Day, December 18th, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it will no longer participate in the UN Global Compact on Migrants (GCM) and refugees (GCR) declaring that the UN’s “approach is simply not compatible with US sovereignty” and that “decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone.” Hypocritically, the US has never respected the sovereignty and self-determination of other nations, including displaced indigenous peoples within its own borders, causing many of the economic, political, and environmental disasters driving the global crisis of forced migration.

The Global Compact on Migration is the UN’s latest response to the current migration and refugee crisis. The GCM acknowledges the “mass movement of peoples” worldwide, around 300 million displaced peoples, the highest since the last World War. While the global compact falls short of addressing the root causes of the forced migration of millions of refugees due to war, political violence, militarization, state repression, and economic crises, the United States’ most recent position on the matter demonstrates its complete disregard for accountability or compliance with international processes. At the same time, it is the driving force behind many of the crises in the world today.

The Trump administration has expanded and intensified fascist and racist repression against peoples and movements across the U.S., along its own borders, and extended these attacks to home countries as well. While recklessly war-mongering against China, North Korea, and the Middle East, Trump continues the U.S.’s neoliberal policies of privatization, deregulation, and liberalization. He and other competing imperialist countries are impoverishing, forcibly displacing, and devastating peoples and their homelands.

With slow growth and declining world trade, US imperialist policies under Trump are squeezing workers for lower wages, through flexible work and contractualization, relying more and more on informal, irregular workers. These economic attacks on working people and the exploitation of migrants require the political repression of workers, communities of color, and migrants who are left to fend for themselves, and we have seen Trump openly attack any resistance or advocacy for migrants’ rights. In his withdrawal from the UN GCM process, we note his particular arrogance, insisting on all the rights of an imperialist America first, while avoiding any and all accountability to international norms or laws on the rights of migrants and refugees.

Domestically, in less than a year in office, Trump intensified the exploitation of migrant guest workers by expanding the H2B guest worker visa programs for the benefit of US corporations. He has opened the door for his administration to become the “trafficker in chief,” since recruiters, placement agencies, and employers exploit the desperation of economically forced migrants. At the same time he has excluded other migrant and refugee populations, whom he has alternately labeled as terrorists, animals, drug smugglers, and rapists. His policies represent some of the most inhumane anti-migrant policies recently, none of which resolve the U.S’s underlying and worsening economic crisis since 2008. The number of deportations has ballooned under the Trump administration, and he has shifted from the “deporter-in-chief” Obama’s strategy to now indiscriminately target and collaterally sweep all undocumented immigrants into his deportation net (not just those with violent records as priority).

Even more openly, Trump’s xenophobia and repressive policies signal the desperate reaction of the 1% to cling to power. Trump has also promised or attempted to:

-Build a wall on the Mexican border and multiply the number of deportations, militarizing the border, terrorizing families and communities, and enhancing the powers of the security state.-Implement 3 versions of a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and temporary suspension of the entry of refugees, discriminatorily shutting the country’s doors to the world, and

-Repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and eliminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaragua ending in January 2018 and Haiti in July 22, 2019 with decisions pending on El Salvador and Honduras, instantly adding tens of thousands of forced migrants and refugees in the U.S. to the community of millions undocumented.

With the rise of right wing, racist and fascist governments and movements in the US and Western Europe, people everywhere including migrants and refugees are building resistance and struggle against these reactionary forces. IMA-USA calls on all of its members and grassroots migrants groups to join us, as we build a more powerful migrant and refugee movement across the United States and join oppressed people throughout the world to stand up against this declining US imperialist system and to build a better world for all.

The ultimate solution for the welfare and wellbeing of the hundreds of millions of forced migrants and refugees will not come from UN heads of state or policy makers and big NGO’s, but from the migrants and refugees themselves. Contrary to the GCM framework that promotes “safe, orderly, and regular” migration for the interests of businesses and corporations, this International Migrants Day, migrants and refugees around the world will continue to rise up to demand justice, to fight for their homelands, and to stand against the rising fascism, xenophobia, and repression they face both at home and abroad. IMA-USA will mobilize on International Migrants Day and invites all who struggle for justice for migrants and refugees to join IMA on December 18th, 2017 and internationally in September 2018 at the 8th International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees – IAMR8 in NYC to determine the people’s demands in the UN’s Global Compacts on Migrants and Refugees. Migrants are organizing, and the mass movement is strengthening itself around the world. Join us in our calls:

End forced migration!

End the Criminalization of Im/migrants!

Genuine Immigration Reform Now! Legalization for All!

No to US and other imperialist wars!

###

Reference: Antonio Arizaga, International Migrants Alliance (IMA), Vice ChairpersonTerrence Valen, IMA International Coordinating Body U.S. Representative Contact Info: (415) 333-6267, ima.usa2011@gmail.com

[Statement] IMA on US withdrawal from GCM

US withdrawal from migration pact shows callous disregard of need to protect rights of migrants: Trump wants perpetration of exploitation and forced displacement

Reference: Ms. Eni Lestari, IMA Chairperson
4 December 2017

The recent US government’s pronouncement of withdrawing from the process of creating the United Nations Global Compact on Migration is a callous disregard of the need for the international community to address pressing concerns of the millions of displaced peoples. It reeks of arrogance just so it can ensure the unchecked implementation of anti-immigrant policies within the US while maintaining the current global migration design of forced migration and exploitation of migrants.

In a statement signed by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the US government stated that the provisions of the GCM are “inconsistent with the US Immigration and refugee policies and the Trump administration’s immigration principles.”

Clearly, what the US government meant was that challenges thrown to the GCM process by migrants and advocates to make the said compact address human rights, labor issues, gender concerns, and the root causes of migration – even while States drumbeat resources gained from migration – are not consistent with Trump’s immigration policy directions.

The Trump immigration policies include massive cuts in the number of immigrants allowed in the US, widespread crackdown – arrest, detention and deportation of undocumented migrants – and further exploitation of immigrants allowed to stay in the country. As President, Donald Trump has pushed for the construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border and implemented a travel ban on six Muslim majority countries.

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) believes that such withdrawal is a total disregard of the importance and principles of international cooperation and solidarity, and an arbitrary reneging from commitments reflected in the New York Declaration that resulted from the UN Summit on Migrants and Refugees held in September last year.

Even before the non-binding global compact is negotiated and its implementation providing no assurance for drastic and concrete changes, the Trump administration is already afraid to be put accountable to the intensifying displacement of people due to neoliberal policies and the multiple wars that are both championed by the US. The twin measures that the US upholds perpetuate massive poverty and unemployment, environmental degradation, constriction of social services, and a host of other grave impacts that force people to leave their countries of origin only to be trapped in further vulnerable and exploitative conditions in countries of destination.

IMA believes that such decision made by the Trump administration to withdraw from the GCM process can create a bandwagon effect especially on the commitments that major receiving countries of migrants and refugees will pledge. The GCM that is already in a tenuous position to resolve issues of migrants will end up as another shallow pact of UN Member States.

The International Migrants Alliance, the global alliance of migrants, immigrants and refugee organizations is calling its members in more than 30 countries including its allies to remain vigilant in this on-going process of crafting a global compact on migration and refugees.

IMA will continue to expose and oppose the root causes of forced migration and the exploitation of migrants. IMA will pursue the building of the global movement of migrants to resist neoliberal dictates and agenda on migration. It will continue to advance changes in all levels – national to international – that will uphold the rights and wellbeing of migrants and bring about a more democratic and pro-people system where migration is a free exercise of right and not an instrument and result of an exploitative and oppressive capitalist system.

Uphold and Protect the Peoples Collective Rights and Dignity of the Rohingya

IMA Statement on the Rohingya Exodus
18 September 2017

The Rohingya deserve the full recognition, respect and protection of their rights, dignity and life as people by all nations and governments, especially Bangladesh and Myanmar.

This is the statement of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) as we extend our strongest solidarity to the Rohingya who are now suffering the worst tragedy at the hands of the Myanmar military government.

Right now, more than 400,000 people, many of whom are women, children and elderly, have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape what can be called a state-instigated ethnic cleansing campaign. Rohingya people are Muslim while Myanmar is predominantly Buddhist.

Since August 25, the Myanmar military has cracked down on the Rohingya community in Rakhine State, using violent measures such as the scorched-earth campaign (burning down entire villages), rape, indiscriminate firing and strafing, and ultimately, massacre. This was supposedly a state response to alleged attacks by a group called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on 30 police posts in the area.

While condemnation from the international community has poured in, the Myanmar government apparently sees no reason to stop terrorizing the Rohingya people. There were also reports of Burmese military allegedly planning to bomb passage areas the Rohingya were using to escape the attacks.

The Rohingya remain a stateless people, virtual victims to what seems to be an onerous tennis match of accountabilities between the Myanmar and Bangladesh governments. Myanmar refuses citizenship to Rohingya reasoning that the latter actually come from East Bengal, and therefor should be responsibility of Bangladesh. Bangladesh, on the other hand, denies political and civil rights to Rohingya stating they are Burmese.

The IMA joins the international community in calling for a humanitarian campaign to provide immediate support, housing and all possible services to the Rohingya, both those who are already in Bangladesh and many more who are still in Myanmar.

Moreover, we urge both the Bangladesh and Myanmar governments to uphold human rights above all and ultimately stop the attacks on the Rohingya people.

We demand both governments:

1) To provide the respect, recognition and protection that the Rohingya rightfully and ultimately deserve;
2) To recognize the Rohingya as people and be accord them their much deserved citizenship;
3) To uphold, promote and respect their collective rights, which include their rights to live as a community, ethnicity and culture, among others; and
4) To provide the Rohingya to opportunity and the environment to live in peace, with dignity and without fear of discrimination, violence or ostracism.

We likewise call on governments to uphold and respect Rohingya asylum seekers, especially those in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

We hope that the United Nations wield political will and enjoin both states to derive through peaceful means concrete actions and mechanism to achieve these demands.

The Rohingya deserve a life of just peace, solidarity and acceptance. End the horrors of fascism, racism and violence that befall them and their children.

No one deserves to be stateless. No one deserves to experience violence.

Life, dignity and justice for the Rohingya!

Reference:
Eni Lestari, IMA chairperson

IMA-USA Statement for May Day 2017

Migrant Workers and Refugees Rise Up!

Build solidarity with workers and oppressed and exploited peoples of the world!

The International Migrants Alliance-USA Chapter (IMA-USA) stands with all the workers of the world on May 1st, International Workers’ Day.

Ironically, it was in the United States where International Workers’ Day was initiated. Workers in Chicago started a general strike on May 1, 1886 to demand an 8-hour work day. A few days later, some workers were killed by state forces, prompting the bombing at the Haymarket Square, also known as the Haymarket Massacre. Around the world, International Workers’ Day has been commemorated on May 1, except for North America — the United States and Canada.

Continue reading