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!

Eni Lestari, IMA chairperson

Post-DACA, Our Struggle Can Only Grow Stronger

Unite and Strengthen the Immigrant Movement Against Fascism, Defend DACA!

07 September 2017

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA-USA) shares the outrage of millions at this week’s decision of the Trump-Pence Regime to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA Program for undocumented youth and students.  Once again, the fascistic character of this administration rears its ugly head to eliminate even this temporary form of relief for the 800,000+ undocumented recipients who were given only temporary authorization to work, go to school, or join the military, instead of having to live in fear of potential deportation.

In 2012 it was the grassroots mobilization of thousands of undocumented youth and students that mobilized in the streets and won the DACA policy from the Obama administration.  Instead of hiding in the shadows, they refused to be treated like criminals, and these young “Dreamers” stood up as “undocumented and unafraid” leaders of the movement to end the criminalization of migrants.   Even just 2 years (renewable until Trump ends the program’s applications in a month’s time) was a significant form of relief for these youth and students, who, for a brief moment, could live without the anxiety, fear, or threat of detention and deportation.

As the name implies, the DACA Program impacted only those students who arrived as children, often as their parents were fleeing economic dislocation or political repression in their families’ homelands.  The most progressive leaders of the Dreamers, however, refused to be pitted as “good” immigrants versus the rest of the “bad” immigrants in the U.S.  There are more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., and the Trump administration has promised to deport all of them regardless of the reasons or conditions that brought them here.

While DACA tried to track these youth into schools, often low-paying jobs or even the military, there was always the fear that registering for the program would surface the close to 1 million youth and their families who would avail of the program.  Supporters of the program thought that subsequent presidents would be foolish to rescind the program and remove even this temporary relief for immigrants who registered to study, work, or fight for the U.S., but Trump was that fool and exposed that in the end, he will intensify and expand the discrimination and attacks against the forced migrants and refugees in this country.

The number of forced migrants, refugees, and displaced people in the world has increased to close to 300 million – a humanitarian crisis not seen since the devastation of WWII.  At the recent Solidarity and Fightback conference and mobilization in Toronto, Canada, IMA joined hundreds of people from dozens of countries to expose how US led wars of aggression, militarization and fascism were impacting migrants and refugees and how grassroots resistance was fighting back against this massive dislocation of people. Wars of US imperialism and between the world’s superpowers, global climate change and famine in large parts of Africa, and especially economic devastation and political persecution are forcing workers, families and communities to be separated and uprooted.

The failed neoliberal economic policies of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, numerous free trade agreements,  and the intervention and proxy wars of the world’s imperialist powers created this current crisis, and the US and other host countries are hypocritically and true to their fascist character cracking down on forced migrants and refugees as scapegoats for their own internal economic and political crises.  Dreamers and DACA recipients are the latest targets of a regime in decline, with Trump cynically repealing Obama’s piecemeal immigration reform program, feeding and emboldening his base of white supremacists, xenophobes, and the racist police and prison state.

This move will not resolve the economic and political crisis in the United States that is only intensifying.  As the US and other imperialist powers continue their wars for economic, political and military dominance in the world to alleviate their own internal problems, the number of forced migrants and refugees will only increase. Dreamers, undocumented immigrants, Muslim refugees, and the many other working class targets of the Trump administration must join together to resist his attacks on all of our communities.  They can also join the migrants and refugees from around the world who are forming a people’s campaign for a truly grassroots led Global Compact on Migrants and a Global Compact on Refugees as the United Nations only now begins to recognize the economic significance and profitability of the forcibly displaced peoples around the world in maintaining the global capitalist system.

Only peoples in struggle can turn the tide of a Trump attack on DACA and the 11 million+ undocumented immigrants in the U.S.  We stand with the Dreamers, Muslim immigrants, and all working class and people of color communities in the U.S. building resistance to the Trump-Pence regime. IMA-USA will continue to fight alongside Dreamers and other migrant youth, workers, and families to build the grassroots voices of migrants and refugees in struggle against imperialism, fascism, and all forms of reaction.

Defend DACA! Resist Trump’s Fascism and Attacks on Im/migrants!

End the Criminalization and Illegalization of Im/migrants!

Genuine Immigration Reform Now! Legalization for All!

End forced migration! No to US and other imperialist wars!



Antonio Arizaga, International Migrants Alliance (IMA), Vice Chairperson

Terry Valen, IMA International Coordinating Body U.S. Representative

Contact Info: 4152030696, ima.usa2011@gmail.com

IMA Pursues Engagement for Global Compact That Truly Serves the Interest of Migrants

On the first informal interactive multi-stakeholder hearing for the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, affiliates of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) shall be present to register the voice of grassroots migrants towards a global compact that is based on the human rights of migrants, oriented towards a development framework that shall end – not perpetuate – forced migration, and operationalized with the active participation of grassroots migrants to realize concrete changes in the condition of migrants and policies on migration.

Sringatin, chairperson of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union in Hong Kong (IMWU-HK) and spokesperson of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB-IMA-HK) shall speak as a panelist on the contribution of migrants. Meanwhile, Wardarina of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) shall be part of the panel on the drivers of migration.

The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), associate member of the IMA, shall also be present to observe in the thematic session as well as in the hearing. APMM is a member of the GC< Stakeholder Steering Committee.

The hearing shall be held at the United Nations (UN) in New York City on July 26. It will follow the Thematic Session on the contributions of migrants and diasporas in sustainable development on July 24 and 25. These are all parts of the preparatory process that is expected to contribute to the crafting of the Global Compact on Migration.
IMA and its members and partners are also gearing to take part in regional processes related to the Global Compact. An Asia Consultation is set to be held in September this year.

In September 2016, the UN Summit on Migrants and Refugees came out with the New York Declaration wherein the agreement to work for a Global Compact on Migration – as well as the Global Compact on Refugees – was expressed.

It should be recalled that IMA Chairperson Eni Lestari spoke before leaders of UN Member States in the opening plenary of the said Summit. In her speech, Lestari urged UN Members States “to commit – to justice, to a development that does not tear families apart and to a future that relies on the strength of its people, not to the continued export and exploitation of our labour.”

Since after the UN Summit, the IMA and its members have continued to intensify the human rights campaigns and advocacies of migrants in the international, regional and even more in the national level. Such campaigns and advocacies have highlighted the need for governments of the world to implement urgent actions that will address the exploitation, modern-day slavery and commodification of migrants.

Furthermore, governments must rethink the labor export-oriented and remittance-driven neoliberal prescription and work towards a system that addresses inequalities, genuinely sustainable, inclusive of the grassroots and truly based on equality, human rights and justice.

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

IMA Statement on Brussels Bombing

Justice to the victims of the Brussels bombings:

Equally defend all migrants and peoples against terrorism, racism, militarism and war!

The International Migrants Alliance, a global alliance of grassroots migrants, refugees and displaced peoples organizations and their advocates, expresses its sincerest sympathy and solidarity with the people of Belgium as they rise from the tragic terrorist attacks.

In the morning of March 22, both the Brussels Airport and the Maelbeek Metro Station were bombed killing 35 civilians and injuring more than 170. The terrorist group Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) admitted to the heinous acts. Continue reading

Statement of the International Migrants’ Alliance on 2015 International Human Rights Day and for the International Campaign vs. TPPA

Stand up for human rights and dignity! Migrants unite against TPPA!

10 December 2015

For our sake and the sake of our people, let’s say no to TPPA!
The International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA) stands with people’s organizations, anti-globalization activists, human rights advocates and the international community in opposing the TransPacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).


The TPPA contains the very key ingredient that has caused so much misery to peoples all over the world and the devastation of our world itself – neoliberal globalization. Under neoliberal globalization, policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization will be imposed on many countries participating in the TPPA and intensify those that are already in place. This means, more state-owned assets and utilities will be privatized and given to corporations to run (through public-private partnerships), national and local enterprises will be imperiled as tariffs are relaxed for incoming foreign investments and businesses, our environment will be further plundered through destructive large-scale corporate mining and removal of barriers on national patrimony, and national governments will be resigned to serving big businesses through free trade agreements and other provisions under the TPPA.

Neoliberal policies and trade liberalization wreak havoc on economies and societies in all aspects. They intensify the crisis experienced by nations and peoples – massive unemployment through closure of industries, factories and businesses, destruction of agriculture, devastation of the environment, privatization of utilities and basic goods that the governments should in the first place be responsible for. This crisis pushes people to leave their families and home countries behind to find work or greener pastures abroad – only to be further exploited and turned into modern-day slaves. This is the reality of forced labor migration.

As the TPPA broaches enforcement of labor rights protection in its provisions, one casts this with great doubt. For how can workers’ rights be protected when factories and other industries will be transferred from imperialist countries like the United States to underdeveloped countries in Asia Pacific for reasons of cheaper raw materials and labor? How would the TPPA ensure labor security when workers would lose their jobs as others will receive depressed wages and curbed rights?


On a larger scale, the forerunners of TPPA would overlook migrants’ rights violations so that some countries could participate in the TPPA. Was it not the U.S. government that upgraded the status of Malaysia to Tier 2 from Tier 3 in the former’s Trafficking in Persons report, despite Malaysia’s record of grave human rights violations committed against migrants and refugees? Tenaganita, the leading migrants’ rights institution and member of the IMA in Malaysia, has strongly condemned this move.

With secrecy surrounding the TPPA, it is very clear that the imperialist countries railroading this agreement is geared towards only promoting capitalist interests at the expense of workers and peoples’ rights. As the global economic crisis worsens, imperialism is hell-bent in salvaging its dying economy through imposition of FTAs such as the TPPA.

TPPA is clearly anti-people, anti-worker and anti-migrant. There is nothing in it that will ensure the protection of rights, the uplifting of our already-depressed wages, the insecurity of our work, the discrimination that we experience in the workplace and in society, and the solution to forced migration. There is nothing in it that will ensure us and our family of genuine development, of a prosperous society, and a bright future.

Reference: Eni Lestari, chairperson


Communiqué of the Third General Assembly of the International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA)

Standing firm by the theme, “Strengthen Solidarity and Advance Our Struggles! Resist Neoliberal Attacks on Migrants and Peoples of the World!” the International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA) held its Third General Assembly on November 11-13, 2015 in Quezon City, Philippines with a renewed its commitment to further strengthen and consolidate the rank of migrants, immigrants, refugees and displaced peoples to end modern-day slavery, resist neoliberal globalization in all its forms and contribute to the global movement of peoples struggling to defeat imperialism.

This is in line with the core identity of the IMA as a grassroots-led global movement of migrants and support institutions committed to the defense and promotion of their rights and wellbeing as a distinct sector in society. The IMA also serves as a major platform for engagement with migrants and advocates coming together to articulate and amplify the sector’s voice on critical issues affecting them. It is unwavering in its purpose to advance the struggle in the local, regional and international fronts. Recognizing the interconnectivity of the struggles of all oppressed and marginalized peoples, it is also part of the broad anti-imperialist movement in the world for justice, freedom, national liberation and genuine peace.

The assembly – held just days before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting in Manila – brought together 85 delegates and guests from 17 countries representing major global regions, including Latin America, Africa, Europe, United States, Canada, Asia and Oceania and the Middle East.


As neoliberal globalization continues to bring detrimental impacts to many poor, underdeveloped countries amidst the crisis of the imperialist-dominated global economic and political system, IMA timed its assembly in order to be able to take part in the people’s actions in Manila against the APEC.

It was in this vein that Rina Anastacio, Vice-Chairperson of Migrante International, the global alliance of Filipino migrant organizations, welcomed the assembly participants and guests. She congratulated the IMA for its militancy in confronting the system that transforms migrants as modern-day slaves, and for remaining as the only global alliance of migrants, immigrants and refugees led by the grassroots.

She also lauded the IMA for being steadfast in its commitment to resist imperialism, to speak and act in unison against all forms of abuse, exploitation, and oppression of migrants and displaced peoples.

In the end, she challenged the IMA members to carry on the path towards building stronger solidarity that is based on collective purpose of resisting neoliberal globalization, imperialist wars of aggression and intervention. She further exhorted the assembly to unceasingly strive in building a world where people can live with dignity, freedom and justice; a world where no one is forced to migrate and be sold like a commodity.

Eni Lestari, the incumbent Chairperson of the IMA opened the 3rd IMA General Assembly with a tribute to Dr. Irene Fernandez, IMA Vice Chairperson, whose untimely passing was a huge loss for the migrant’s and people’s movement around the world. Her life-long service to the cause of migrants and refugees has been a great source of inspiration for all members of the alliance to continue defending and protecting their rights and wellbeing wherever they are and in whatever situation they may be.

The IMA Chairperson noted that countries in the north are changing the schemes of migration from unskilled to skilled migrant labor while poorer sending countries, on the other hand, continue to compete against each other for labor markets making life harder for migrants, especially the undocumented. For this, the challenge for the IMA has become greater as “the fate of migrants depends not on other people, but on migrants themselves,” she said.

Overall, Lestari noted that while IMA member organizations had varying and sometimes, uneven level of responses to calls for coordinated actions, and education and information campaigns were not consistently done, it persisted in its role as an international campaign center. Also significant in the last four years is that the alliance was able to consistently project its line and position on critical issues affecting migrants in various local, regional and international events and engagements used to be dominated by NGO-led networks.

Lestari laid out the challenges for the IMA as follows: 1. Further expand membership and reach out to migrants of different nationalities; 2. Interrelate national struggles of migrants into internationally coordinated campaigns and utilize the IMA’s regional and international advocacy and engagements to national struggles is also crucial; 3. Step up propaganda work to project the anti-imperialist line and position of the IMA, especially in international events and gatherings and promote the alliance on the ground; and 4. Build its own resources to enable the alliance to lead in international campaigns and other coordinated actions.

Azra Talat Zayeed of Roots of Equity, a grassroots-based organization working with peasants and small farmers based in Pakistan, delivered the keynote address for the assembly. In her speech, she said that the onslaught of neo-liberal policies has heightened due to the acute crisis facing capitalism.  She said that neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatization and trade liberalization have caused so much misery for the world’s peoples leaving them without any means of accessing resources for living a life of dignity. “We are being forced to be in a position to beg or cheat for livelihood. With no decent livelihood at home, we are forced into migration.”

She also expounded on the advances in the working class movement resisting neoliberal globalization. “Today we are in the IMA precisely because we have understood and realized that our situation is beyond tolerance – the division that capitalism creates amongst us through language, religion or whatever – are just tools of imperialism to ensure that we are divided, that we do not become a force; a force that will threaten and overcomes the corrosive power of capitalism.”

She praised the IMA for holding on to the correct political line and its establishment as clear proof that the global movement of migrants, immigrants, refugees and displaced peoples is in the right path. “By organizing ourselves we have ensured that a clear segment of our working class understands its role in the struggle that we are engaged in, and which still has to be taken much further,” she said. She expressed confidence that the IMA will come out of its 3rd Global Assembly “more resolved, more united and ready to take down the brutal forces of capitalism, of feudalism and patriarchy that have dehumanized us.”

Delegates then approved the assembly agenda and rules of participation, which was followed by the presentation and acceptance of new members.  With the addition of 8 more organizations – Fellowship of Filipino Migrant Workers (USA), Confederat Nationale des Travailleros de Senegal (CNTS, Senegal), Serve the People Association (SPA, Taiwan ROC), Indonesian Migrant Worker’s Union – Macau (Macau SAR), Voice Refugee Forum Caravan (Germany), Migrante Denmark (Denmark), Migrante Austria (Austria), and KANLUNGAN (United Kingdom) – the total members of IMA now stands at 141 .

Delegates heard and unanimously approved the report of the IMA Chairperson with some additions. The report told of how the IMA stood pat to its militant tradition and persevered in the face of serious blows brought on by the capitalist crisis on migrants. The alliance fought with vigor and without let up the attacks of neoliberal globalization policies against migrants in various host countries. With these attacks ever increasing, Lestari challenged member organizations to further tighten their grip onto the goals and ideals of the alliance.

In pushing through, she advised the assembly “to use the strength that the IMA has developed, the level of expansion it has reached, the victories it has achieved and the challenges it has identified in the past as foundation for the coming years.” She said that these are necessary as the alliance forges ahead in its role of being at the forefront of the migrant struggle and “as part of the peoples’ global movement against imperialism and all reactions.”

The assembly likewise approved the report of the IMA Treasurer.

Regional reports followed where representatives from various global regions took turns in sharing their experiences in the last four years. The reports gave particular attention to the most critical and urgent issues facing migrants, immigrants, refugees and displaced peoples, and the actions and engagements taken by member organizations in the areas of campaigns, mobilization, education, propaganda, alliance work and organizational building.

Rosario Bella Guzman of IBON Foundation gave a comprehensive presentation on the global economic and political trends and their impacts to the migrants. She expounded on the effects of neoliberal globalization policies to peoples and nations and how richer countries led by the US use various maneuvers and forms of offensives to imbed these policies in the economies of poorer, underdeveloped countries. She also presented alternative actions to the assembly, including campaigns that the IMA may consider in the coming years.

Afterwards, the IMA General Program of Action for 2015-2018 was approved. The context and general direction of plans and tasks for the next 3 years were laid down giving particular stress on education and information, campaigns and mobilization, international advocacy and strengthening the alliance organizationally so it may effectively and decisively resist and fight the onslaught of imperialism. It likewise stressed the importance of solidarity among member organizations, on the one hand, and the rest of the oppressed and impoverished peoples of the world, on the other, as the only assurance that the struggle of migrants, immigrants, refugees and displaced peoples against imperialism will advance.

Amendments to the IMA Constitution where then ratified including the streamlining of the International Coordinating Body (ICB).

Earlier on, delegates in their regional caucuses selected their representative to the ICB. Similarly, associate members also held a separate caucus to select their representative. An additional 7 members of the ICB were selected at large through an election process facilitated by members of the International Women’s Alliance or IWA. The following will constitute the IMA ICB for the next three years: Eni Lestari (AMCB, Hong Kong), Antonio Arizaga (FUIE, USA), Hsia Hsiao-Chuan (TASAT, Taiwan), Glorene Dass (Tenaganita, Malaysia), Sadeqa Siddiqi (Women of Diverse Origins, Canada), Luz Miriam Jaramillo (Comitato Degli Immigrati in Italia, Italy), Rina Anastacio (Migrante International, Philippines), Malick Sy (CNTS, Senegal), Terry Valen (USA), Grace Punongbayan (Migrante Europe, The Netherlands), Rev. Chang Jeong Won (Osan Migrants Center, South Korea) and Ramon Bultron (Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants, Hong Kong). Karsiwen of ATKI-Indonesia and John Leonard Monterona of Migrante – KSA were elected as alternate members of the ICB.

The ICB elected amongst them the Executive Committee. Eni Lestari was re-elected as chairperson of the alliance while Antonio Arizaga was elected as the new vice chairperson. Rina Anastacio (Secretary General), Hsia Hsiao-Chuan (Deputy Secretary General), and Glorene Dass (Treasurer) completed the roster of new officers.

Quezon City, Philippines
November 12-13, 2015