Friday, March 04, 2011

Migrants Rights at the 2011 WSF in Dakar, Senegal

by Colin Rajah
February 25th, 2011

Preface: Long time followers of Migrant Diaries will recall that we closed this esteemed blog at the end of last year. NNIRR is launching a new website which houses a new and improved blogging space, and we anticipate future postings to be anchored there. As it turns out however, our prediction of the next NNIRR travel blog to be published there was a bit premature. Here then is the final, FINAL installment of Migrant Diaries (I think!), a recap of our recent experience at the World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal...

A baobab tree, the national tree and symbol of Senegal

The World Social Forum (WSF) was launched in 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil as an alternative, popular space to counter the World Economic Forum, an annual meeting of trade ministers and business elite in Davos, Switzerland. (A comprehensive history and beginnings of the WSF by Francisco Whitaker can be read here.) In this, its 10th anniversary, the 2011 WSF was held in Dakar, Senegal, the gateway to West Africa and a city oozing with history and culture.

As in all our previous participation at the WSF, we were part of a critical grassroots US delegation organized and coordinated by the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ). Read other postings, resources, pictures and videos of the GGJ delegation at the GGJ WSF 2011 page. And be sure to also checkout our fellow-travelers, the Detroit Delegation's D2D blog.


World Assembly of Migrants & World Charter for Migrants

Along with NNIRR board member Gerald Lenoir of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and NNIRR member Nunu Kidane of Pririty Africa Network (PAN), our first stop in Dakar on February 2nd - 4th, was at the World Assembly of Migrants to deliberate the World Charter for Migrants, taking place on the Island of Goree. (Checkout the BAJI and PAN blogs.)

[Left: Statue monument on Goree Island, commemorating the freedom from slavery]

Initiated by a migrant collective in Marseilles, France, the World Charter was intended to create a global charter of principles "guaranteeing the freedom of movement and of establishment for men and women everywhere on our planet." After presenting this concept to the World Social Forum on Migration in Rivas, Spain in 2006, this initiative continued to percolate and develop, and eventually organizers proposed this World Assembly to deliberate and and launch the World Charter.

[Right: The Slave House's infamous "Door of No Return"]

The World Assembly of Migrants took place on the island of Goree, which presents a unique and powerful location for any such gathering. Goree is infamous as the gateway through which slaves were traded during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It houses a somber memorial in the form of the Slave House, built in the 1700s, through which millions of slaves from around West Africa were brutally transported to the Americas. (For a pictorial tour of the Slave House, visit the author's online album: "Brutal, Forced Migration: Goree Island Revisited.")

Unfortunately, the so-called World Assembly of Migrants, failed to live up to its name or expectations. Firstly, aside from the 100 or so participants from Francophone West/North Africa and Western Europe, there were only a handful from other regions; 1 person from Latin America, the 3 of us from North America, and not even a single participant from Asia! There was little recognition of the long-existing migrant rights movements in these regions, and all deliberation seemed mostly relevant to only the regions represented there.

[Left: World Assembly of Migrants banner]

Certainly the usual challenges for participation in any international convening of grassroots migrant communities existed -- lack of resources, barriers to free movement and travel, inability to access information etc. -- but it was also clear that no real effort to engage a more global process was undertaken and it seemed organizers were either blinded to this glaring gap or dismissive of it. This also meant our participation was sidelined to that of passive observers -- listening in on translation devices, not being able to truly engage, and not having our minimal comments translated for other participants.

Furthermore, it seemed that various critical issues (race, globalization, sexuality, gender, indigenous peoples' rights, among others) were purposefully excluded from the Charter, with seemingly misplaced intentions. Organizers aggressively defended these omissions with arguments for trying to maintain the Charter's length, that we all belong to a "human race", sexuality being a "personal preference", that all Africans are indigenous etc. None of these were valid, and some were quite preposterous, but the few dissenters against these arguments, while allowed to comment, were ultimately not heard and the Charter continues to not address these.

Finally, from this writer's opinion, the Charter, while well-intentioned, seems to have little to no political traction. It is primarily driven by the organizers and their allies, has no connection to any domestic nor inter-governmental policies, and there is no articulated plan to take it beyond what is in effect, a declaration. It does not even make any attempt to link or comment on standing international principles on migrant rights, such as the UN Migrant Workers Convention nor acknowledges the critical role that the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) is taking as the primary inter-governmental policy-deliberating institution on migration. Again, the organizers appeared vehemently opposed to addressing these and dismissed all other international principles as not emerging from migrant communities, which is of course inaccurate.

[Right: Participants discuss the World Charter]

Having said all that, it should be noted that of the participants present, many were grassroots migrants connected to well-respected organizations providing critical migration-related work in the region. Groups such as GADEM in Morocco, CEAR in Spain, and AME in Mali, all had representatives there. But the Assembly's emphasis on individual migrants, rather than movements and organizations, meant that the wealth of the knowledge, work and rich history these organizations and movements share, were super-seeded by individual reflections only.

While we continue to communicate and work with the Assembly organizers and related organizations and agree with most of the Charter's Principles, we don't have much hope of this gathering helping advance the international movement for the rights of migrants.

The proclamation from the Assembly can be found here in French only, and the draft English text of the Charter (before edits taken during the Assembly) can be found here.


The Pan-African Network for the Defense of Migrant Rights: An African Movement with African Voices


At the 2008 People's Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights (PGA) in Manila, Philippines, a critical gathering of African participants formed an African Caucus to discuss pressing issues pertaining to migrant rights among the African diaspora. This eventually led to the founding of the Pan-African Network for the Defense of Migrant Rights in Bamako, Mali last year.

[Left: Members of the Pan- African Network take a much needed break during their critical meeting]

In spite of the enormous logistical challenges of the WSF (see "Grab-A-Space" below), the Pan-African Network was able to meet on February 9th-10th at the accommodating OSIWA offices.

As previously noted, most of the organizations working on African migration that are internationally known are primarily based in Europe, or are larger international NGOs providing advocacy and services. As the first and only Africa-based, primarily migrant-led and grassroots network on migrant rights, the Pan-African Network has a lot riding on it. It also faces tremendous challenges to be recognized on a larger scale while it advocates and organizes for its own members' and communities' rights.

[Right: Mamadou Goita from IRPAD, Chair of the Pan-African Network]

Aside from developing strategies and plans for growing the Network and addressing critical infrastructural issues, the Pan-African Network members talked about the dire lack of protections for African migrants around the world, the inherent racism faced by African communities in motion, and the lack of adequate protections in Europe, as well as within Africa itself.

Unfortunately, the Pan-African Network did not receive the attention it deserved within the WSF context, but hopefully that will change in the coming months and years. NNIRR stands in full support of the Pan-African Network for the Defense of Migrant Rights as an ally, and wishes its members all the best as it overcomes its growing pains as well as the institutionalized obstacles it faces in Africa and around the world.

Members of the Pan-African Network for the Defense of Migrant Rights


The 2011 World Social Forum: From Open Space to "Grab-A-Space"

The march that kicked off the 2011 WSF on February 5th was promising. An estimated 50,000 - 70,000 of us took to the streets from the Grand Mosque of Dakar to Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD), about 3 miles away. The mass rally at UCAD was highlighted by an address by Bolivian President Evo Morales, who, in support of the people's uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, signaled that "...these are signs of change!"


A group of dancers & drummers lead WSF marchers

However, the first full day of the forum on February 6th demonstrated the challenges that laid ahead. Just a few months before the WSF, there was a change of Chancellor at UCAD. While the previous Chancellor was supportive of the WSF being held at the university campus, the new one was not. It took many weeks of intense negotiation between WSF organizers and the new Chancellor for him to agree for the WSF to take place in some parts of the campus but with a much smaller allocation of rooms and space.

[Right: PAN and other GGJ delegates at the opening march]

On top of that, UCAD had just witnessed a student strike earlier this year. Students were protesting the lack of classroom space at UCAD in particular, and around Senegal in general -- there is an estimated space shortfall for 30% of enrolled students at UCAD. This raised two critical issues for the 2011 WSF.

Firstly, University officials refused to cancel classes during the WSF week because they were already behind their official syllabi due to the strikes. This meant that there would also be a severe shortfall in workshop space, a defining issue for the 2011 WSF.

Secondly, and ironically, the presence of the WSF at UCAD also meant further limitations to the dearth in classroom space, and a disruption in classes for UCAD students. Most WSF participants were completely unaware of this, and many were quite confused when some students took to protesting the WSF, frustrated that the WSF was taking up what little space they had just fought for!

It should be acknowledged that some of the primary organizers acted with little transparency and did not divulge many of these underlying issues to other organizers, the International Council, nor participants until it was much too late. Also, they were painfully slow to react to the obvious lack of designated workshop space -- workshop conveners were often left without assigned rooms and had to spend hours at the WSF Secretariat office arguing for room assignments right until the very last moment before their scheduled start time. With around 20,000 - 40,000 participants wondering around a large university campus for workshops they wanted to attend, this undoubtedly created unprecedented chaos, confusion and frustration.

[Left: WSF tents]

As a stop-gap measure, organizers erected tents around the UCAD campus with little to no assignments. While some workshop coordinators petitioned the secretariat for a tent assignments, many with creative self-organizing skills, took to claiming a tent. As a result, the Open Space methodology that the WSF framework is famously built upon, quickly eroded to a Grab-A-Space method.

Groups and organizations experienced with the logistical challenges the WSF sometimes presents, with established relationships and international networks, and who had a plan of action going into Dakar, were mostly able to navigate around these tremendous challenges and come away with successful meetings, exchanges, strategies and collaborative plans of actions.

Unfortunately, for many who had expanded a lot of their resources to be at this WSF (some as part of the Social Movements Caravan across West Africa) and for those who were experiencing the WSF for the first time, the lack of assigned space meant a tremendous waste of their energies and precious resources, leading to a complete frustration with the entire process. For thousands of participants, the 2011 WSF left a bitter taste in their mouths.

[Right: Senegalese artwork displayed at the WSF]

We were fortunately among the set of participants who could muddle our way through the Forum. Despite canceled or very late workshops, we were still able to take part in a number of interesting and important events, organize meetings with critical international partners, meet new potential allies, come away with a far better understanding of the region and the migrant rights movements here, and plan further followup actions and collaborations.

The increasing shutdown of the borders of Fortress Europe and the lack of real development opportunities in the region, has intensified both displacement of communities, the criminalization of African migrants in Europe, and the state of landlessness most deported migrants find themselves in when returned to the continent. However, movements and organizations and responding both at the national and regional level, building coalitions and finding opportunities to impact inter-governmental policies for better protections for migrants. There is very close coordination between migrant rights groups in Europe and those based in North and West Africa. Some organizations even have satellite offices in both continents.

There is however, little to no relationship with migrant rights movements in North America and Asia, and limited ties with those in Latin America. This reflects a dire and critical need on both our parts, to take steps to address this, and to find ways to collectively build a more global movement. Stay tuned to NNIRR as we begin modest efforts and plans to deepen the relationships (beginning this summer with an international effort to establish a global standard against the current conditions experienced by migrants along international borders.)

[Left: WSF participants walking to UCAD]

Finally, the WSF closed with a series of Social Movement Assemblies, including a few related to migration and migrants rights. One of these even applauded the efforts of the World Assembly of Migrants and its proclamation. A couple of these promoted international days of actions including one for December 18. Most of them called for the need for collective global strategy and action to shift the current dominant paradigms of criminalizing and exploiting migrants, a call those of us in the US must heed urgently.

As for the WSF itself, it continues to generate mixed-results. While it has done a lot for Leftist and progressive movements internationally, it still faces many questions and challenges, including that to its own credibility as the primary vehicle to support the advancement of a global movement. There was much talk in Dakar about the future of the forum. For a good and careful critique about the WSF and its future, read Michael Leon Guerrero's "Initial Thoughts."

As for now, we move forward with a greater understanding of the challenges faced by migrants in and from West Africa as well as the efforts to organize movements and networks in the region, and the hope for greater solidarity in the struggle for migrant rights around the world.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Closing out COP 16, Closing out Migrant Diaries

By Colin Rajah
December 10th, 2010

[Left: Our delegation meeting in our "HQ" preparing for the day of action.]

So here it is, the last and final installment of Migrant Diaries. We started this blog 5 years ago for the World Trade Organization (WTO) mobilization in Hong Kong. It seemed like it was important to quickly jot down thoughts, share pictures, report on events, and "write home" during our international delegations, events and other vital travel and while building with international allies. Today, more than ever, this is a critical piece of communication with our members, allies and other partners. But in an effort to streamline and update our communication, we'll be blogging directly from our new website in the new year. For now, here's our last entry from the COP 16 in Cancun...

[Right: IEN and GGJ delegations during LVC march. Photo credit: Ben Powless]

The day of action on Tuesday promised to be a challenging day and it proved to be that and more. Choosing to join the La Via Campesina mobilization, we began with a march around downtown Cancun. Then we were bussed and dropped off along the highway leading to Cancunmesse and ultimately the Moon Palace, where COP 16 was taking place.

The long and arduous march along the highway underneath the might of the glaring afternoon sun, was enlivened by the spirit of the thousands who chose to forsake comfort and safety, to challenge what the COP 16 stood for. For a glimpse into this powerful march, watch this short clip of Jasmine Thomas from IEN, inspiring our delegation with a moving rendition of an indigenous song while drumming:




Wednesday dawned early... again. There was heightened activity and confusion -- more than normal. The previous day, IEN Executive Director, Tom Goldtooth, along with other members of our delegation had been rudely escorted out of the Moon Palace resort where the COP 16 was taking place. This followed the canceling of my own accreditation to COP 16 the previous day, when I was also asked to leave due to some "technical glitch" that they refused to try to resolve.

[Left: Aunty Casey Camp-Horinek leads the IEN delegation.]

In Tom and the others' case, it was because they had held a press conference and action which criticized the market capitalistic nature of the COP, and the dominance of the World Bank in climate financing, carbon trading mechanisms and commodification of forests -- all of which will undoubtedly further displace communities. As a result, the COP 16 effectively silenced any dissenting civil society voice, allowing them to cut what is now being called the "Copenhagen 2" compromise -- no further commitments by developed countries to reduce emissions, and the development of a climate fund with more strings attached than a kitten's ball of wool!

While the crack media team went about putting out word on what had happened, a few of the IEN members and I rushed off to the "Esmex" for various workshops and panels.

[Right: Panel at the Esmex.]

For me, it was the panel on Migration, Militarization and Climate. Joined by allies from Bolivia, Mexico, Asia and elsewhere, we dove into the mythology surrounding "climate migrants", the intensification of militarization because of "climate fear" and "climate racism", and the lack of political will to deal with the thousands being displaced due to a global economic and political structure that has caused this crisis. Connections were made, cards were exchanged, and no doubt, follow up will be carried out. Most importantly, it is becoming evidently clear that thousands upon thousands of people everywhere are suffering from forced displacement due to a global economic structure that is causing this unprecedented climate change, while governments like the U.S. are using this as an excuse for further military intervention in regions like Africa, South America and South Asia.

Leaving Cancun, we took with us this amazing compilation by Allan Lissner of our collective work and actions from the entire 2 weeks in Cancun:




As was the case last year, no deal would've been better than a bad deal. But a bad deal is what we got from COP 16. The label "Can't-cun" seems to have stuck. As we celebrate International Human Rights Day today and look towards International Migrants Day next week, we are reminded that the rights of communities have taken a back seat to corporate profit and political hegemony of the U.S. and the E.U. But we are also reminded to take comfort in the knowledge that we stand in solidarity with movements around the world, as we did during COP 16, in opposition to such global injustice.

[Left: IEN's No REDD (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation & Degradation) flag.]

As I was escorted out of Cancunmesse, withdrawn accreditation and all, I remembered how inherently challenging this work is on the international level. You have to deal with UN bureaucrats, slick diplomats, unscrupulous politicians, and our own version of "BiNGOs" (Big NGOs) and their lack of principles as they negotiate away our rights and justice. But I always seem to find solace among like-minded allies, in spite of language and cultural barriers up the wazoo.

So in closing Migrant Diaries, I offer up this humble tribute to all the international allies we've crossed paths with. The ones we have stood together facing the nasty end of a riot squad shield. The ones we know we can always turn to when no one else will stand with us. And yes, the ones who will be willing to be escorted out of a fancy schmancy resort with you. The principles we hold are lofty, and the path to get there is steep and rocky. But it is the journey with each and every one of you that makes it worthwhile.

Thank you for accompanying us along this journey, and we look forward to many more chapters in the days and years to come.

Monday, December 06, 2010

For Life, Environment & Justice

By Colin Rajah, reporting from Cancun, Mexico
December 6th, 2010


The international farmers' movement, La Via Campesina (LVC) began its Global Forum for Life, Environment and Social Justice this past weekend with a dynamic march through downtown Cancun and a series of plenaries denouncing the carbon markets that governments are trying to legitimize in their negotiations at COP 16 (see previous post.)

[Left: LVC caravans arrive into Cancun]


Its unique, welcoming and fun-filled camp is juxtaposed against the seriousness and sense of urgency felt in its actions, plenaries and other discussions.

[Right: LVC camp]

NNIRR was fortunate to be invited to present on a plenary at the forum this evening on migration.

[Left: Haitian participants sing before migration panel]

Alongside speakers from the Farmworkers Association of Florida, the Border Agricultural Workers Project (BAWP) and the Mouvement Paysan de Papaye (Peasant Movement of Papaya) from Haiti, the forces displacing communities and the critical conditions facing migrants were raised. In particular, we highlighted how the dominant capitalist economic agenda has concentrated wealth in a few elites, while exposing communities (especially rural and peasant ones) to exploitation and criminalization.

[Right: NNIRR's Colin Rajah, Carlos Marentes Sr. and other Migration panelists during LVC's Global Forum for Life, Environment, Justice. Photo credit: Sharon Lungo.]

Carlos Marentes Sr. from BAWP, a member of NNIRR and LVC, stated how climate change caused by global socio-economic and political policies are displacing communities, and denounced immigration enforcement by the same polluting governments who then criminalize the very communities they have displaced. In particular, Carlos named the US-Mexico Border wall installed by the US as a form of containing and controlling migrants. He then committed to continue working in collaboration with NNIRR and our other members to build an international grassroots movement to challenge these.

[Left: Climate Justice banner at LVC camp]

Tomorrow, we join LVC in their very anticipated day of action when thousands will march up to the Moon Palace, site of the COP 16, where like-minded government and civil society allies will come out to join us in symbolic solidarity. It is hard to anticipate the police and military response, but to say it will be intense, is an understatement. This only underscores the vast chasm between the government negotiations and current text of the climate convention, and the mass people's movements.

On Wednesday, we will also be speaking on a panel on climate, migration and militarization at the Espacio Mexico or Esmex. Reports from all these will be forthcoming.

[Right: Corn sculpture outside Esmex forum]

In the meantime, enjoy a short clip from Bolivian farmers and musicians at the LVC camp spontaneously engaging forum participants in dance:



Viva Campesinos, Viva Migrantes!

Friday, December 03, 2010

CJ from the USA

By Colin Rajah, reporting from Cancun, Mexico
December 3rd, 2010








For faithful readers of Migrant Diaries, we apologize for the long silence. Most of our recent postings have been deposited on NNIRR's other blog Immigrant Rights News. We'll also be transitioning to a newer, better blog in the coming months with the anticipated launch of our brand-spankin' new website in the new year. Stay tuned.

But for nostalgia's sake, this coming week we'll be posting the last few posts on Migrant Diaries before its retired. And this time, we're coming from Cancun, Mexico where the UNFCCC (United Framework Convention on Climate Change) and its Conference of the Parties (COP) is having its 16th conference, popularly known as "COP 16".

NNIRR is part of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) and Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) delegation of grassroots groups from the US participating in events in and around the COP 16. We're also a part of a larger strategic alliance of grassroots and allied organizations from North America actively engaged in organizing for Climate Justice, called the Grassroots Solutions for Climate Justice - North America or as some of us prefer to call it "CJ in the USA." Checkout the Press Release from our delegation about grassroots folks bringing climate justice solutions to Cancun.

Cop 16 runs from November 30 - December 10, 2010. Our broader delegation is engaged in an "inside-outside" strategy with trying to negotiate in key spaces within the COP as well as organizing various actions to highlight pressing issues, while engaging in the various alternative and civil society spaces outside the COP to exert strong pressure on it. (For a taste of the actions so far, checkout GJEP's Photo Essay 1 and Photo Essay 2.)

NNIRR's primary approach to COP 16 is to highlight our deepening analysis around the intersections of climate and migration, and more importantly around climate justice and migrant rights. A lot of dissonance has been surrounding the whole buzz around "climate refugees" or "environmental migrants". While these have good intentions to provide more rights for migrants impacted by climate change, they might actually seek to direct more militarization efforts against impacted communities, artificially create a hierarchy of oppressions among migrants, and misdirect attention away from the real culprit of socio-economic injustice. More on that to come.

For now, suffice to say that the first week at the COP has been an an interesting array of mixed feelings. These range from discouragement at the lack of political action within the COP especially from the primary polluting countries like the US, to excitement about the possibilities to meet and develop new allies especially those dedicated to migrant rights like the Bolivian delegation, to inspiration from other US grassroots allies who are taking creative actions such as the IEN delegation and members of our delegation who have been part of the La Via Campesina caravans.

We'll be posting more about all of these in the coming week. For now, have a look at our paper written with noted academic on migration, Stephen Castles, on Environmental Degradation, Climate Change, Migration and Development. And enjoy reading the last few postings from Migrant Diaries!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

From the Swiss Alps to the Greek Seas: NNIRR lobbying in Geneva, movement-building in Athens

By Colin Rajah, reporting from Athens, Greece

June 6th, 2009


Over the decades of NNIRR’s work building deep ally relationships with organizations and movements in other parts of the world, the small window of opportunity to engage in collaboration is never passed. We know all too well that resources to do such critical international advocacy and movement-building are miniscule and fleeting, so we never dare to hesitate.


So it was this time too – the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) was holding its session in Geneva and our international partners Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), both of whom are fellow-members of Migrants Rights International (MRI), had a sliver of funding to organize a series of side events to the HRC. We knew that the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants, Dr. Jorge Bustamante, would be presenting his report to the HRC, with a focus on migrant children. PICUM had just produced a report on undocumented children in Europe, and both MFA and NNIRR have members with long histories of work with migrant families and children.


At the same time, we’ve been organizing a mass mobilization in Athens in conjunction with the 3rd Global Forum on Migration & Development (GFMD) later this year. This was as close to our version of the perfect storm as we could get to organize critical events and hold numerous side meetings in Geneva, and then stop-off at Athens for some preparatory meetings with allies here.


[Left: Part of our delegation debriefs after one of our side events at the UN]


MFA brought together a delegation of its members from the Philippines, Japan, Israel and the Netherlands, PICUM came over from Belgium, and after an update and briefing by NNIRR’s board member Janis Rosheuval from Families for Freedom, I joined them all. (Pablo Ceriani, another MRI member from CELS in Argentina, and a consultant to UNICEF, was to join us, but he and his partner had their first child themselves!) Together, as part of the MRI network, we organized the following side events at the HRC:



[Right: Domestic Workers side event]


The Special Rapporteur himself was a panelist in all of these. At the Economic Crisis event, the room was over-flowing and a lively discussion followed the panel presentations. It was obvious that the crisis has had a deep and profound impact on human rights in general, but in particular migrant communities around the globe have borne the brunt of increased repression, scape-goating and exploitation.


[Left: Juana Flores from MUA speaks at the Domestic Workers side event]


At the Domestic Workers event, many of the participants came from a delegation of domestic worker groups who were also in Geneva for the 2009 International Labour Conference (ILC) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) – a sort of advance group preparing for the 2010 ILC which will deliberate a domestic workers convention. This delegation included NNIRR’s National Council member, Juana Flores from Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA), and Jill Shenker from La Raza Centro Legal, both members of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). Juana herself was a panelist at our event, and she was joined by; Anne Marie Suciu, an organizer of domestic workers in Israel (who explained how the closing of the border to the West Bank has seen an increase of household workers brought in from South Asia and a similar increase in exploitation and abuse); Fe Jusay from the RESPECT Network, a domestic worker network in Europe (who challenged the lack of domestic worker voices in the ILO negotiations around the upcoming convention); and Dr. Bustamante (who condemned the elimination of migrant domestic workers from the convention language and agenda.) Ellene Sana, MFA’s chair-person and Director of Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), chaired the event.


[Right: Migrant Children side event panel]


The Migrant Children event included: Michele LeVoy from PICUM (who presented their findings and recommendations for providing basic services such as healthcare and education for undocumented children in Europe who aren’t provided the same rights as other European children); Andrea Anolin from Batis Women’s Center in the Philippines (who helps organize Japanese-Filipino children, or “Yogis”, who are discriminated against and face issues of identity); Naoto Higuchi from Solidarity for Migrants Japan - SMJ (who explained the challenges and discrimination faced by migrant children in Japan, even those of Japanese descent from Brazil); Dr. Bustamante (who re-emphasized the core of his report to the HRC, which documents the increasing trafficking of children due to more restrictive migration policies); and yours truly (who highlighted the work of Families for Freedom in New York who are fighting for the rights of citizen children from mixed-status families that are torn apart by ICE home-raids, deportations etc., and advocating for the protections in the pending Child Citizen Protection Act in Congress.) The trend appears to be that migration policies are being developed within the context of prioritizing “state security” over concerns for the fundamental rights, well-being and safety of children.


Being in the UN halls during the HRC, not to mention ILO halls during the ILC, is a hectic experience -- you never know which government delegate you’re going to run into, what political rumor you’ll learn, and what collaborative venture you’ll be negotiating. This time was no different. Aside from Dr. Bustamante himself (who eagerly agreed to join us in our mobilization in Athens at the end of the year -- see more on that below), we also met with the Mexican government about the GFMD, John Bingham from the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), Patrick Taran who is a senior officer at the migration branch of the ILO, Carla Edelenbos who heads up the Committee on Migrant Workers at the UN, Kamalam P. from the International Trade Union Congress (ITUC), and many others, even a few who would probably prefer to be un-named!


After 3 busy and hectic days in Geneva, William Gois and Ellene Sana from MFA, and myself headed down here to Athens. As NNIRR has previously reported, Greece is hosting the 3rd Global Forum on Migration & Development (GFMD). Since our organizing of mobilizations around the 2006 UN High Level Dialogue on Migration & Development where all our New York members came together with our partners and allies from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, we’ve committed to co-organizing “parallel events” or more appropriately termed “people’s global actions” to such major global fora on migration.


[Left: Meeting with migrant groups and allies in Athens]


Greece in particular, poses a challenge and an important moment. Coupled with the economic crisis, it is witnessing an unprecedented surge in right-wing sentiment with a corresponding anti-immigrant reaction. Neo-nazi groups have repeatedly harassed, abused and even torched immigrant communities around Athens (just last night a building was set on fire as we were in a community meeting just 2 blocks away!), and the Greek government has intensified its restrictive policy-making. At the same time, there are growing immigrant communities from Albania, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines, Bangladesh, North Africa or the Maghreb region etc., due to wars and militarization, increasing poverty, as well as even more repressive migration policies in other parts of Europe that force undocumented migrants to flee to Greece.


[Right: Community dinner and meeting at immigrant pre-school and community center, which schools 75 children from 13 countries, and hosts multiple community events including organizing meetings, training sessions, language classes and even temporary housing and shelter for immigrants.]


As such, we’ve spent the last couple of days meeting with local immigrant groups and communities, and anti-racist movements and organizations (many of whom have been a part of the Social Forum processes here), to build deeper understanding and solidarity, and to jointly plan and co-organize a people's forum and mass mobilization that will coincide with the GFMD in November. The events that will build up to this include the annual Anti-Racism Festival next month which regularly sees up to 25,000 attendees, the week-long "Noborder Camp Lesvos" -- an anti-detention camp in August on the Greek island of Lesvos which houses immigrant detention facilities, as well as a number of other immigrant rights mobilizations in the coming months. Of course, there are already other regional and national events being held around the world, including NNIRR's own national briefing sessions in the U.S. which we've begun. In spite of the ever-present state repression and right-wing violence in Greece, the local groups and movements assure us that we might just witness the largest mobilization around the GFMD yet!


In spite of my exhaustion, I can’t contain my excitement from what we've accomplished from our lobbying work in Geneva this past week, and from anticipating a very powerful global immigrant mobilization like the one we’re planning for Athens.


Stay tuned for more followup soon on all of these, or to find out more info, contact Colin Rajah at crajah@nnirr.org.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On International Migrants Day: U.S. Immigrant Rights Groups Call for End To Immigration Raids, Urge Humanitarian Policies

VERSION EN ESPANOL SIGUE/In English and Spanish (Spanish follows)

News Release
December 18, 2008

Contact:
* Laura Rivas (510) 465-1984 ext. 304 lrivas@nnirr.org
* Colin Rajah (510) 465-1984 ext. 305 crajah@nnirr.org

On International Migrants Day:
U.S. Immigrant Rights Groups Call for End To Immigration Raids,
Urge Humanitarian Policies

(Oakland,CA) Immigrant rights groups urged today, International Migrants Day (December 18), that the U.S. government should adopt humanitarian policies and practices in the treatment of immigrants. The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) asserted that although well-publicized raids at work-sites have dominated immigration news this past year, a majority of persons have been deported through other means - and at the expense of their rights and physical well-being.

Following another year of monitoring enforcement operations and gathering information from immigrant workers and communities, NNIRR has concluded that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) routinely violates and ignores the due process rights of persons they question for immigration status.

Information from 100 reports and 115 reviews of raids showed that DHS has continued to use overwhelming force, including physical and mental abuse, in coercing immigrants to sign away their rights for almost instant deportation or detention.

"We need an end to these immigration raids," declared Arnoldo Garcia, director of NNIRR's Immigrant Justice and Rights program. "It will be up to the new Administration and Congress to ensure that humanitarian polices and practices are put into place. Until that can be done, detentions and deportations should also be suspended to bring some relief to immigrant families and communities from this shameful human rights crisis."

DHS' Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported almost 350,000 persons from the United States in fiscal year 2008; over two-thirds had no prior criminal record or convictions. Persons deported through worksite raids accounted for less than 2 percent of all ICE deportations, and from fugitive operations, 10 percent.

Meanwhile persons identified for deportation in local, county, and federal detention made up 63 percent or all deportations.

In one deportation case, Marvin Ventura, a Honduran immigrant detained at Steward Federal Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia was deported after ICE physically forced him to sign a form waiving his right to a hearing before an immigration judge and any opportunity to adjust status. An active member of his local church, Ventura is now separated from his wife and community in Little Robbins, Georgia.

Another immigrant who had lived and worked in the U.S. for 20 years, Rodrigo Caltenco, was arrested in Walden, NY, processed and transferred to a detention facility in Texas. There he was verbally threatened and intimidated into signing a form he did not understand. Two days later he was deported, leaving behind his wife, children, and grandchildren.

"Each person deported represents families that are torn apart, communities that are traumatized and economies that are disrupted," continued Garcia. "These patterns have seriously deepened under the Bush Administration and since 9/11, and we see grave repercussions in the current period."

Many of the immigration enforcement operations included the collaboration of local, county and state police and other public agencies.

A full report of the 2008 human rights monitoring effort will be published early next year. Last year's NNIRR report, "Over-Raided, Under Siege", found that DHS was subjecting immigrant and refugee communities to a form of "collective punishment," resulting in widespread violations of constitutional and human rights.

International Migrants Day was recognized by the United Nations in 2000 to commemorate the passage of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (commonly referred to as the Migrant Workers' Convention) on December 18, 1990.

Community groups around the country are marking the event with press conferences, candle-light vigils, cultural events and film-screenings in cities such as Laurel, MS; Tucson, AZ; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; and Seattle, WA.

To view a partial list of events as well as details and contact information for each, go to:

www.nnirr.org/resources/docs/Dec18ListofEvents2008.pdf

VERSION EN ESPANOL

Comunicado de Noticias
18 de Diciembre, 2008

Contacte:
* Laura Rivas (510) 465-1984 ext. 304 lrivas@nnirr.org
* Colin Rajah (510) 465-1984 ext. 305 crajah@nnirr.org

En el Día del Migrante Internacional:
Grupos pro derechos migrantes en EEUU llaman por el cese de redadas migratorias,
Urgen políticas humanitarianas

(Oakland,CA) Grupos de derechos inmigrantes urgieron hoy, en el Día del Migrante Internacional (18 de Diciembre), que el gobierno de los Estados Unidos debiera adoptar políticas y prácticas humanitarianas en el tratamiento de las y los inmigrantes. La Red Nacional Pro Derechos Inmigrantes y Refugiados (NNIRR, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights) afirmó que aunque las redadas en los lugares del trabajo son bien conocidas y dominaron las noticias sobre migración, la mayoría de personas han sido deportadas por otros medias – y al costo de sus derechos e integridad física.

Después de otro año de vigilar los operativos de control migratorio y recaudando información de trabajadores y comunidades inmigrantes, NNIRR ha concluido que el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS, Department of Homeland Security) rutinamente viola e ignora los derechos constitucionales de las personas que detienen para cuestionar sobre su condición migratoria.

Información extraida de 100 reportes y el repaso de 115 redadas muestran que el DHS continúa usando preponderantemente la fuerza, incluyendo el abuso físico y mental, in coercionando a inmigrantes a firmar y ceder sus derechos para deportarlos casi inmediatamente o encarcelarlos.

“Las redadas de DHS tienen que cesar," declaró Arnoldo Garcia, director del programa de Justicia y Derechos Inmigrantes de NNIRR. “Le tocará a la Administración nueva y al Congreso asegurar que se implementen políticas y practices humanitarias. Hasta que estas sean implementadas, las detenciones y las deportaciones deben ser suspendidas para proveer un poco de alivio a las familias y comunidades inmigrantes de esta vergonzoza crisis en derechos humanos.”

El Buró de Control de Inmigración y Aduanas de DHS (ICE, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement) deportó a casi 350,000 personas de los Estados Unidas durante el año oficail de 2008; más de dos-terceras partes de los deportados no tenían ningún previo historial o de convicciones criminal. Las personas deportadas a través de redadas en los lugares de trabajo representaron menos de 2 % (dos por ciento) de todas las deportaciones de ICE, y de operatives contra fugitivos, 10% (diez por ciento).

Mientras las personas identificadas para ser deportadas en cárceles locales, municipals, estatales y federales representaron hasta el 63% (sesenta y tres por ciento) de todas las deportaciones.

En un caso de deportación, Marvin Ventura, un inmigrante hondureño que fue detenido en el Centro de Detención Federal de Steward en Lumpkin, Georgia fue deportado después de ICE lo forzó físicamente a firmar un documento donde cedió su derecho a tener una audiencia con un juez de inmigración y cualquier oportunidad de ajustar su condición migratoria. Miembro activo de su iglesia local, Ventura ahora está separado de su esposa y su comunidad en Little Robbins, Georgia.

Otro inmigrant que vivió y trabajó en los EEUU por 20 años, Rodrigo Caltenco, fue arrestado en Walden, NY, procesado y transferido a centro de detención en Texas. Allí agents de ICE lo amenazaron verbalmente y lo intimidaron hasta que firmó un formulario que no entendía. Dos días después fue deportado, dejando atras a su esposa, hijos y nietos.

“Cada persona deportada representa familias que son destrozadas, comunidades que traumatizadas y economías que son trastornadas”, continuo García. “Estos patrones se han profundizado bajo la Administración de Bush y desde 9/11, y vemos sus graves repercusiones en el periodo actual.”

Muchas de las operaciones de control migratorio incluyeron la colaboración con entidades policíacas y otras agencies públicas locales, municipals, y estatales.

Un informe completo de los resultados del esfuerzo de vigilar y documentar los derechos humanos en 2008 serán publicados a principios del año nuevo. El informe de NNIRR del año pasado, “Redadas desmedidas, Comunidades asediadas, (“Over-Raided, Under Siege”) reveló que el DHS está sometiendo a comunidades de inmigrantes y refugiados a una forma de “castigo colectivo”, resultando en violaciones amplias de los derechos constitutcionales y humanos.

El Día del Migrante Internacional fue reconocido por las Naciones Unidas en el año 2000 para conmemorarar la aprobación de la Convención Internacional sobre la Protección de los Dferechos de Todos los Trabajadores Migratorios y Miembros de Sus Familias (conocida comunmente com la Convención sobre Trabajadores Migratorios) el 18 de Diciembre, 1990.

Grupos comunitarios alrededor del país están celebrando este evento con conferencias de prensa, vigilias nocturnas, eventos culturales y la proyección de documentales en ciudades como Laurel, MS; Tucson, AZ; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; y Seattle, WA.

Para ver una lista parcial de estos eventos asi como también los detalles e información de contacto para cada uno, vaya a:

www.nnirr.org/resources/docs/Dec18ListofEvents2008.pdf

#

Red Nacional Pro Derechos Inmigrantes y Refugiados
National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights
310 8th Street, Suite 303
Oakland, CA 94607
Tel (510) 465-1984 | Fax (510) 465-1885 | www.nnirr.org

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Voices of Africa Share Their Visions and Concerns at People's Global Action

By Nunu Kidane

Priority Africa Network

Black Alliance for Just Immigration


I must admit, coming to Manila, I was convinced that the Africa agenda would be nowhere and participants from the region would be few – at least much fewer than last year in Brussels. Was I wrong. Not only was the process intentionally inclusive of Africa focused issues, but the were about 20 participants from Africa, about 3 times the size that was in Brussels, and they were all amazing people. [Right: Discussion the issues at the "Borders, Detentions & Deportations" workshop at the People's Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights in the parking lot of the Malate Catholic Church gathering. All photos: Arnoldo Garcia]


Most came from West Africa where they shared issues of concern on the increase of migration, both internally within the continent and as the flows head north to the Meghreb and the Mediterraian. We were Anglophone and Francophone from Sub Sahara Africa where some worked directly with migrants in addressing livelihood and survival needs while others worked in policy advocacy. There were a few of us from diaspora organizations who are based in Europe and myself from the U.S. representing Priority Africa Network & the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.


Making the Connections on Africa & Migration:

From Colonialism to Frontex


Making the connections among us was an important first step towards forming a common agenda. We all realized that comparatively, there are major gaps in information when it comes to migration from Africa. We also work in different sectors and concerns which keeps us busy and with limited funding and it get challenging to address the multiple layers of issues we face.


The common analysis we shared was that none of what is happening now can be seen separate from the recent historic past of European colonialism of Africa. The current political and economic instability of Sub Saharan African countries can be traced back to the past and to the current system of bilateral and multilateral economic agreements (SAP etc.) which have not served the needs of the African people. Neither do we discount the responsibilities of African leaders for failure to protect the rights of their own citizens – and in many instances, for being the main cause for migration in the first place. [Right: Nunu Kidane speaking at the opening mass-up and march of the People's Global Action in Manila.]


While we all saw the national-level advocacy and policy change as necessary, it was equally important to work regionally and continentally – including regional bodies like ECOWAS, SADC and IGAD, as well as with non-governmental organizations.


Migration is becoming an issue of great concern globally, and Africa is no different in this respect. As we look at the trend of migration over the next decade, all indicators are that there will be a vast increase of people on the move in the coming years.


The level of desperation that is pushing people away from their homes is already high – environmental destruction, access to land and water resources, protection of rights and decreasing opportunities for young people – all contribute to push people to consider moving to Europe or elsewhere as destination points.


What is happening in European immigration policy needs to be exposed for the hipocracy and double standards. There is a great deal of xenophobia in the social and political attitudes of Europeans when it comes to non-European immigrants, and especially Africans – despite the fact that Africans have been going to Europe in large numbers for the past half century, they continue to be seen as difficult to assimilate. [Left: A delegation of migrant rights organizations and unions attending the governments' Global Forum on Migration and Development's "Civil Society Days" come to address the big labor-led march "SALAG," the Solidarity Action of Labor against the GFMD.]


To curb the migration of North and Sub Saharan Africans into their territories, European union enacted FRONTEX in October 2005 http://www.frontex.europa.eu/ This militarized system of ‘border control’ has broad mandates with little oversight and transparency in its overall program. It is a combination of national troops in coordination with local police and border control officials which go beyond what is considered official European territory of land and sea establishing permanent operations in countries like Senegal.


Frontex officers in full uniform gear are visible in even villages throughout the countryside where they gather data on migration patterns with the purpose of curbing and controlling the flow of migration of Africans. Furthermore, similar to Guantanamo Bay, there are detention centers off of islands and costlands of North Africa over which no one-country has clear jurisdisction and clearly no oversight of international organizations. Conditions, needless to say are deplorable and violations occur on a large scale.


All these and more are issues of concern that we hope the Africa group will continue to work on and expand on as we move ahead into the coming months. There are challenges, but there is commitment to tackle them with at lease very basic level of communication set up among the group in order to ensure that the links we have built continue to be strengthened in the coming months. [Left: At the Africa migration and human rights workshop at PGA, Manila.]


Information on our respective organizations and the work that we do will be posted on a page of the Migrants Rights International (MRI) website which will have English, French and Spanish versions.


We will use our collective voice to highlight issues of current concern and to prepare well ahead of the next annual gathering of the Global Fund for Migration and Development in Athens in 2009. We invite other groups to join us in our effort to expand the voices of migrants from Africa, especially groups that are already working on trade, resource extraction, debt cancellation, gender rights and other issues, to consider migration as a concern which links to their agenda. As always we are in gratitude for the folks in the Philippines and from Asia in general who welcomed us and stood in solidarity with us. [Right above: Listening to the dicussion at the PGA's Durban Process Review workshop.]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PGA Women's Action Day: Women Organizers Speak Out Against Abuses, Hundreds March for Women's Migant Justice

By Arnoldo Garcia

(Tuesday, October 28, 2008, Manila, Philippines) Some 2,000 mainly women with youth, elders and men, converged on the Plaza Olivia Salamanca to speak out and march as part of "Women Migrants' Action Day against the GFMD" as part of the People's Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights.

Voices of Migrant Women

The women's day of action began with a press conference at a nearby restaurant where women representing migrant women workers organizations, unions and advocacy provided a panorama of the situation facing migrant women.

Sumiati (left), an Indonesian domestic worker in Hong Kong and chair-woman of the Coalition for Migrant Rights, described how migrant women face systematic abuse and exploitation. CMA has documented the violation of the rights of domestic workers in Indonesia, Thai, Hong Kong and other countries.


Malou Acid (right) of the Kanlungan Centre Foundation's Center for Migrant Workers, who moderated the PGA Women's Day of Action press conference, said, "Women migrants are subordinated, they are more vulnerable to abuse by employers and face discrimination [at home and abroad]."

Babie Lloren (left), a Filipina who worked as an entertainer in Japan for twelve years, spoke out against the violence migrant women face in the workplace. Ms. Lloren, a survivor of violence herself, spoke of her own experience abroad and her return home, where migrant women like her are additionally stigmatized as "Japayuki," a derogatory term for Filipina women connoting prostitution. Ms Lloren founded "Batis Aware," a leadership and capacity building organization to provide development to migrant women to defend and protect their rights.

Malou Padilla (left), with Babaylan: Philippine Women's Network in Europe based in the Netherlands, explained how the migration of women is the result of deep social, cultural and economic factors that force women to go abroad. She said, "Women migrate as wives, refugees, as cooks, caregivers, nannies and other domestic employment. They struggle to alleviate the poverty and status of their families back home."

Ms. Padilla explained how migrant women encounter a host of problems in Europe. "Migrant women work in the lowest category, putting us in a vulnerable position. Many times the women work in private homes, where employers elude scrutiny and supervision with no regard for wages and conditions," she added. Ms. Padilla said employers hold on to the women's passports, pay extremely low wages, are subjected to many types of abuses -- with little or no opportunity for advancement across the spectrum.

Magdalene Kong (speaking, left), a consultant with Global Union Asia & Pacific, closed out the presentations. Ms. Kong, based in Singapore, stated that the Global Forum on Migration and Development has yet to include migrant women's rights agenda and move beyond a business-centric model; she appealed for inclusion of the migrant women's agenda in the GFMD.

Ms. Kong declared, "It is the responsibility of national governments to create jobs in the national economy so people have a choice." She explained that if the governments create jobs, migration lessens. Ms. Kong added that the GFMD is an informal, non-binding process that will reinforce the substandard conditions facing migrant workers, making them disposable and treated as commodities.

Ms. Kong said "Migrants leave home physically fit, but return hunched over. If a women gets pregnant, she gets fired and deported. Many migrant workers come back in boxes, as cargo.

Ms. Alcid closed the session by reminding everyone that the GFMD is only on venue for advocacy. "Migrant women workers will organize to expand their rights."

"Women Migrants are Not Commodities"

After a brief Q & A, a theater troupe presented a short skit showing the diversity of jobs and skills migrant women workers take abroad (see right). The actors represented migrant women as nurses, business, entertainers and home workers in different countries.

Migrant Women's Day of Action Against the GFMD,
March for Women's Power & Rights

When the mass-up for the "Migrant Women's Day of Action against the GFMD" began, almost as many police were present. Several hundred women began readying for the march a police announced that if foreigners participated in the action they would be arrested.

Undaunted, Philippine women were joined by "foreigners" -- women and men migrant rights organizers, human rights defenders, and others attending the People's Global Action conference and activities. The police were unable to intimidate anyone and then before the march began at 2:00 in the afternoon, its ranks had grow considerably. The tables were turned and now the police were outnumbered and outnumbered.

At least half of all the marchers were young women, teenagers and adults, including some of their male counterparts. Their enthusiasm, sheer joy and almost boundless energy matched that of the majority women marching. Together they gave the march the imprimatur of a movement that is unstoppable.

Manila Police Block Peaceful March, Again!

The police again did the dirty work of the governments meeting at the GFMD. The women's march took off in a high spirit that never wavered. After about ten blocks of boisterous marching, chanting, mugging for photographers, waving at passerbys in cars, motorcycles, jitneys, buses and walkers, the police again blocked another PGA march.

In spite of the commanding officer's jovial attitude, an image for the press more than anything else, the march was blocked by a few dozen police agents wearing helmets and shields.

The police were unmoved by the brave women leading the march. They listened to our leader's pleas and arguments. The captain did not budge; neither did the marchers.

Blocked by police from going forward, a jitney was pulled over and used as a raised platform for speakers to address the marchers.

Different women spoke out during the program being held hostage by Manila police. They spoke out against the travails and injustices women migrants endure in their host countries.

Women migrants do triple duties as transnational home workers: they take care of their families, many times the families of their employers and send remittances to take care of their families back home.
Sumaiti had pointed out earlier that, "For many of us, working abroad is not a choice but the only option left in order to feed our families and bring our children to school. Who would want to be separated from our families and enslave ourselves ina foreign cuntry if there are decent jobs and livelihood in our home country?"

In a statement issued by over 25 organizations for the "Women's Day of Action on Migration and Development," organizers emphasized the increasing "feminization of migration" and the demand for "people-centered, gender-just, sustainable development." The statement, "A Rights-Protect Present, and a Just and Empowered Future for Women Migrants" stated among other things:

"In the Philippines, and in several other Asian countries, women comprise the majority of persons migrating largely due to the dearth of viable employment oppportunities at home, but also because they are pushed by government to answer to the demand for women-oriented, often low-paying service sector jobs abroad. Even as so-called 'regular' workers, they are not guaranteed their rights, often accepting less pay and under stricter conditions...."


Calling it a "human rights catastrophe... of staggering proportions for women in migration...." the Women's Day of Action called on the Philippine government to uphold the United Nations "Declaration on the Right to Development," which binds signator governments to end the massive rights violations that result from the structures and economies created by different forms of neocolonialism, apartheid, racism, foreign domination and other neoliberal policies that force people, especially women, to migrate internationally in order to survive.

All the women blasted the GFMD and the governments for the plight of women migrants. A contingent of women put an X of masking tape over their mouths to denounce the silencing of their and other migrants's voices and agenda at the governments' proceedings at the GFMD.

After about an hour of rousing speeches and non-stop chanting, ignoring the blistering heat of the sun, the program ended with Korean drummers energetically performing and dancing circles, literally, in front of the police line. The police blocked the march but they did not and could not stop the movement.

After the Korean drum troupe's performance, the march turned left and headed back on the boulevard back to the Olivia Salamanca Plaza.

At the Plaza, hundreds of marchers gathered in a cricle to hear more speakers and a dramatic theater performance.

Here are images from the return march to the Plaza.

Women migrants are a new type of vanguard, a human vanguard that will make borders tremble and walls crumble....

The Korean drum troupe leads us back to the Plaza Olivia Salamanca (right).

Women from different parts of the world marched, defying the police threat of arrest (left).







The march enters triumphantly back to where it started. Hundreds of marchers kept up the energy and enthusiasm of a monumental struggle for the rights of women migrants everywhere (right).















Organizers draw the marchers in a circle around the Plaza's center. Then the program continued with speakers and a theater troupe highlighting the issues facing women migrants and the demand for human rights and justice.








































[All photos by Arnoldo Garcia, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights]