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 on the 2015 IMD

Let Odds Be In Our Favor: Defend the Rights, Welfare and Dignity of Migrants and Peoples! Fight and Fail Neoliberal Attacks on Us and Our World!

Statement of the International Migrants Alliance on the 15th International Migrants Day
18 December 2015

This year, migrants have faced tremendous odds. Economies of receiving and developed countries have remained in the brink of collapse and have not recovered since 2008. The continued adherence of world powers to neo-liberal policies has created fragile economies, jobs have been scant and unemployment remains high. To mask the weakness of their economies, governments from the North are quick to blame the migrants as the source of job scarcity, fueling xenophobia and racism against the migrants, despite the reality that the most dangerous and dirty jobs are being reserved for the them. This is happening in the midst of the top 1% continuing with the plunder of taxes and public funds, coupled with governments imposing belly-crushing belt-tightening policies and austerity measures. 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

Let the pictures break not only hearts, but also barriers to rights

A spectre is haunting Europe and it’s the spectre of refugees fleeing from their war-torn homes only to find death on the sea and not safety on the land.

The picture of three-year old Syrian child, Aylan Kurdi, face down and lifeless after trying to cross to Greece has been making the rounds of alternative and mainstream media. It moved people, as it must. It called for change, as it should.

For weeks, countries in Europe have been besieged with criticisms from its own people as governments either take hardline stance against or dilly-dally in taking in refugees and providing them the protection, services and haven that international and even EU agreements mandate them to give.

The capsizing of the boat carrying Aylan, and another one carrying other refugees, was the latest proof of the vulnerabilities of displaced people. A few weeks ago, two boats from Libya carrying 500 people trying to get to Europe also capsized in the Mediterranean Sea and reportedly killed 400. This year alone, the United Nations estimated that 2,400 already died trying to get past the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, who can forget the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis from Myanmar who were also stranded at sea and refused entry by countries in Southeast Asia?

Closing borders and heightened restriction in the entry of foreign nationals – be they refugees fleeing from wars and hunger or migrants displaced by economic hardships and also political strife – is a trend that is slowly creeping not only into Europe but also in other countries that are destinations of those forcibly displaced from their country of birth.

States use the phantoms of jobs scarcity and scramble for dwindling resources and services to justify clamping down on refugee and migration flows. As economic and other crises rage with so-called recovery sluggish or is reserved for corporations and the business sector, refugees and migrants are still being used as convenient scapegoats to blur, if not totally skip over, the reality that skewed economic policies are at the root of problems faced by people in countries hosting refugees and migrants.

The same neoliberal-driven economics that uphold labor expert, coupled by wars and political strife, is what also drives millions of people from their own homeland to seek a more safe and secure life.

This month, the United Nations General Assembly is set to meet and chart the path to development for the next 15 years. It cannot be emphasized enough that the displacement of people due to economic or political causes – the 232 million migrants and 19.5 million refugees – is an issue of holistic development that should respect the comprehensive rights of the people.

When the two boats from Libya capsized, Amb. Macharia Kamau of Kenya who co-chaired the post-2015 development agenda negotiations said that how the migrants crisis is being handled is not the way “to transform the world towards 2030.” It definitely is not.

The post-2015 development agenda promises to leave no one behind. If governments are sincere about this, there should be no more Aylans left behind to suffer hardships or wash up lifeless in foreign shores.

Let the tragic pictures of the death of children not only break our hearts, but also the walls of exclusion and inhumane migration and refugee policies that do not respect the fundamental rights of people already forcibly displaced by economic want and wars.

Eni Lestari
International Migrants Alliance (IMA)/ Campaign for People’s Goals for Sustainable Development (CPGSD)

Migrants challenge ASEAN to save the Rohingya at sea, immediately resolve the crisis

A vision of doom for the Rohingya people, for the trafficked peoples? Is this the vision of the ASEAN?

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) strongly criticizes all member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for continuing to delay the much needed response and action on the ongoing crisis besetting the Rohingya people currently stranded at sea. Condemnation in the strongest terms goes to the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia for outrightly refusing entry and refuge to the stranded Rohingya.

While a thousand Rohingya people, with some Bangladeshis, have been offered refuge in the island of Aceh, thousands more are feared to be left at sea, without proper food, clean water or protection.

We raise the alarm as news reports come of bad detention camps and migrant graves being discovered along the Thailand-Malaysia border. As crackdowns are undertaken specifically by the Thai authorities on 300+ suspected traffickers, the situation of the Rohingya people is left unattended.

The Rohingya crisis is not an issue of a border crisis or a national security issue. It is a human rights issue, a peoples’ issue, an ASEAN concern and responsibility.

We condemn the Myanmar government for continuing to aggravate the situation by shunning the Rohingya people, treating them as illegal migrants, as less than humans. We condemn the Malaysia and Thailand governments for refusing entry to the stranded-at-sea Rohingya. Equally worthy of condemnation are the other members of the ASEAN who are not lifting a finger to even assist the Rohingya.

What’s the business of the ASEAN if not attend to the people most in need, in this case the Rohingya? Is this the vision, identity, the community they want to make and project to the world – that they are anti-Rohingya, numb to the needs of the people in distress but welcoming to business interests as in their vision of the ASEAN Economic Community?

We challenge the ASEAN to take action now. Bring the Rohingya and all stranded-at-sea to the land, provide them with necessary sustenance, assistance and protection, and address the Rohingya crisis immediately by recognizing and following international laws and conventions that shall truly benefit the Rohingya and not leave them at bay – to die.

As we say this, the IMA calls on all its members and friends around the world to drumbeat the campaign to save the Rohingya from an imminent yet avoidable disaster and bring to justice those who are truly responsible for this – from the traffickers to governments.

For reference: Eni Lestari, chairperson

Justice for the 26! Investigate the jungle graves in Thailand!

There will be no peace for those who have perished or for their families if justice is not served.

This is the statement of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) as it calls on the Thai government to allow an immediate, independent and credible investigation of the jungle camps where 26 bodies of alleged victims of human trafficking have been found early May 2015. The trafficked victims, said to be Rohingya Muslims, have apparently died from starvation of disease.

A few days after, more jungle graves almost 200 meters from the Thailand-Malaysia border were discovered. However, no bodies were found.

According to news reports, the victims were made to stay under the harsh conditions in the jungle until ransom has been paid by their families to the smugglers or trafficking syndicates.

For the IMA, this is a clear violation of the human rights of peoples, especially for the Rohingya people. They have been denied citizenship and shunned both by the Burma/Myanmar and Bangladesh governments. They have been inhumanely treated on so many occasions. It can be remembered that more than 200 were killed and many thousand families displaced when a bloody conflict arose between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar last 2012.

The Rohingyas have suffered enough. They should be given justice. And this investigation is one step closer to that.

The IMA, a global alliance of grassroots migrants, refugees and displaced peoples, will closely monitor this situation and will be working with various groups in relevant areas and countries.

Save the Rohingya!

Eni Lestari, chairperson