Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Threat of deportation: Canada’s Christmas gift to three Filipino workers

December 26, 2010


Winnipeg, Manitoba --While many families are busy preparing for Christmas, three migrant workers known as Three Amigos (or the Three Fathers) are busy preparing their documents for their immigration hearing and steeling themselves for the worse possible scenario, which could be  deportation orders. In the past weeks, the Canadian public has heard and read about the plight of Antonio Laroya, Arnisito Gaviola and Ermie Zotomayor.

The three migrant workers from the Philippines who came to Canada under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program were arrested for violation of work permit restrictions. The news of the decision to remove them from Canada saddens the three fathers, as well as the community and migrant advocates who have indefatigably worked to ask the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney that they be allowed to stay in Canada.

Migrante Canada, a Canada-wide alliance of 16 migrant organizations from British Columbia to the Atlantic Region, expresses its support and sympathy to Antonio, Arnisito and Ermie and their respective families. We know that they want to stay here and be allowed to work so they can provide for their families back home. Their struggle to stay is similar to the struggle of numerous migrant workers who have no pathway to become permanent residents in

Under the present immigration system, there is no available recourse for these three men but to appeal to Immigration Minister Kenney and hope they be allowed to stay under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Their lawyer, Nobel Peace Price nominee David Matas, has told them to apply for "restoration of status" and "temporary residence" permits that would allow them to work in Canada.

Migrante Canada hopes that this option is seriously considered and given to the three migrant workers.

Migrante Canada extends its sincere gratitude to all the supporters and allies who worked tirelessly in advocating for the Three Fathers to stay in Canada. Our regional chapter, Migrante Manitoba, was able to reach thousands of listeners and media readers all across Canada in knowing and understanding the plight of the Three Fathers. The Three Fathers find support and comfort from the community that has rallied behind

Unfortunately, this support  has been lacking from the Philippine Embassy. There are many more like the Three Fathers who are in the same situation and we hope that the community efforts will develop into a more cohesive network that will work for the much-needed changes (e.g. not having the work permits employer-specific permits) in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Migrante Canada has not heard from the Philippine Embassy and consular officials on what assistance they can provide to our kababayan. We have witnessed time and again that for any assistance to be provided, the question most often asked by our officials is: “have these workers paid their OWWA fees?” instead of “how can we help?” Is it not enough that our kababayan are Filipino citizens and that the Philippine government, through the Embassy, is mandated to help

The Philippines is one of the top three sending countries for migrants to Canada; however, we see very little support, or none at all, for the Filipino migrant workers, especially those who are in need. The case of the Three Amigos is proof of this.

The struggle for the right to stay in Canada for the Three Fathers is far from over. We need to connect the struggle of the Three Fathers to the struggle to reform the TFWP and advocate for a pathway for permanent residency for all migrant workers – have this as an as an option offered to all migrant workers in the TFWP. We also need to connect the situation of migrant workers in Canada to the problems in the Philippines that have pushed thousands of migrant workers to find jobs for their families.

Migrante Canada will continue to advocate and appeal on behalf of the Three Fathers and all migrant workers.

Let us not allow more Ermies, Antonios and Arnisitos to be subjected to this kind of ordeal.



Christopher Sorio,
Secretary General, Migrante Canada

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Celebrating International Migrants' Day 2010 across Canada


December 18th is International Migrants Day!
And Migrante’s National Day of Action for the Three Fathers in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Please join us in voicing our concerns with and for migrant workers on International Migrants Day.

On 4 December 2000, the UN General Assembly, recognizing the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants Day.  On 18 December 1990, the General Assembly adoptedthe International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Canada has not signed this International Convention.

Date:   December 18th, 2010, Saturday
Time: 12 o'clock noon
Location:  corner of Homer and Georgia Streets (outside of the Vancouver Public Library)


'Three Amigos' to go on protest fast on International Migrants Day

Children of the three migrant workers to give testimonials on their situation during prayer vigil

On December 18, 2010, just one week before Christmas, Antonio Laroya, Arnisito Gaviola and Ermie Zotomayor will go on a protest fast to highlight how their arrest and their lack of employment has affected their children. Since their arrest on June 24th the three fathers have not been allowed to work and thus have been unable to support their families.

A prayer vigil will be held at the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba at 4pm to 6pm on Saturday, December 18th-- which coincides with International Migrants Day.

During the forum, recorded testimonials from the family of the three fathers will be heard.
Migrante Canada has also planned events in Vancouver, Toronto, Barrie, Ottawa and Montreal in support of the "3 Amigos" and International Migrants Day.

For more information or for interview requests please contact:
Diwa Marcelino: 204-218-7100;


Celebrating International Migrants' Day 2010

Come and join us as we reflect on our collective struggles, shape our destiny and…
...CELEBRATE our victories as migrant workers and the International Migrant Workers Movement in protecting and advancing our rights
...AFFIRM the principle of self-empowerment of migrant workers, by migrant workers, for migrant workers
...STRENGTHEN the solidarity among all workers: unionized workers, immigrant/migrant workers, workers without jobs


Dance, Theatre, Skits, Music, Songs, Painting, Photo Exhibits!!


* our collective experience as racialized workers/migrant workers
* causes of global migration with Canada’s immigration policy
* our unity as migrant workers from various sectors/communities
* solidarity between the migrant workers movement and labour unions

For more information see :

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winnipeg community aids migrant workers facing deportation

By Caros Sanders, Winnipeg Free Press, November 30, 2010

Winnipeg, Manitoba -- After being told they can no longer work in Canada, three Filipino men given shelter by a friend were given the boot by the building's superintendent who saw their photo in the Winnipeg Free Press last week.


"They were kicked out the day of the article," said Diwa Marcelino with the lobby group Damayan Manitoba.


Ermie Zotomayor, 45, Antonio Laroya, 45, and Arnel (Arnisito) Gaviola, 42, are in limbo after their passports were taken away by the authorities.


They were recruited in February by a desperate employer trying to staff his gas bar in Thompson, Man., located about 765 kilometres north of Winnipeg, who promised to get their paperwork in order. They were arrested this summer by the Canada Border Services Agency in Thompson and told they can no longer work.


They are awaiting an immigration hearing in Winnipeg on Dec. 23.


The trio has been relying on the kindness of the community in Thompson and Winnipeg. After being left homeless Friday, they spent a couple of nights at the home of provincial Culture, Heritage and Tourism Minister Flor Marcelino, who is Diwa Marcelino's mother. They've since taken shelter at another Winnipeg resident's place, laying low so as to not ruffle any feathers that may cause their host grief.


"Ermie, Arnel and Tony cannot even open an account in their name because they have no identification," said Marcelino. "They have no right to work, cannot sign a lease to an apartment" and they're not about to apply for any social services, he said.


It's a situation being played out across Canada in sectors from hotel and service industries, to chicken dressing plants and greenhouses, said Marcelino of Damayan Manitoba, a group affiliated with Migrante Canada pushing for the fair treatment of temporary workers from the Philippines.


"No Canadians are willing to do the job for price (they're paid). This is a huge business and employers are saving a lot of money and lowering wages."


The men from the Philippines each paid $3,000 to a recruiter in 2007 to find them service jobs in Canada. They got their work permits and shared a trailer in High Prairie, Alta., while working at a gas station and a restaurant, sending money home to their wives and children in the Philippines.


Following a local downturn in the economy, they were laid off and offered similar jobs in Manitoba. They went to work in February at a gas station in Thompson for $10 an hour but did not have the necessary work permits for the job.


© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix


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Saturday, October 23, 2010

IAMR3: Migrant Workers and Advocates to resist the upcoming Fourth Global Forum on Migration and Development

October 21, 2010 -- The Third International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR3) will take place November 6-8 in Mexico City, coinciding with the Fourth Global Forum on Migration and Development  (GFMD) in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on November 10, 2010. The IAMR3 follows the First International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees in Manila in 2008 and IAMR2 whick took place in Greece in 2009.

Convened by fifteen international organizations from Mexico, the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America working towards rights and justice for migrants, a key goal of the IAMR3 is to demonstrate broad, strong resistance to the Fourth GFMD, a conference of United Nations Member States whose central theme is “Partnerships for Migration and Development: Shared Prosperity – Shared Responsibility”. The prime concern of the IAMR3 is the GFMD’s emphasis on “managing” migration for economic benefits rather than looking to address the substantial social costs.

“There is no consideration for the root causes of migration or the difficult and often abusive conditions facing migrants. Rather, migration is perceived as a tool for economic development with individual migrants valued only for the dollars they send back home,” says Julia Camagong, coordinator of the international secretariat of IAMR3.

Nearly one billion people – one in seven – are migrants. They are fleeing war, persecution, poverty and environmental disasters. In countries such as the Philippines, remittances have become the largest contributor to the country’s GDP. Rather than address the rights’ violations, poor working conditions and abuse of migrants, not to mention the closing of borders and crackdown on undocumented migrants, government stakeholders are working to extract the most possible from migrants world wide. The importance placed on remittances by financial institutions such as the World Bank can be gleaned by this statement: “remittances are expected to remain more resilient than private capital flows and will become even more important as a source of external financing in many developing countries.”

According to Eni Lestari, the chairperson of the International Migrants Alliance:
“Migrants’ remittances have surpassed Official Development Assistance by 300%!  Neoliberal globalization has not brought Third World countries any closer to the eradication of global poverty and unemployment. It looks like UN member states are trying to remedy the global financial crisis on the backs of migrant workers.”

Leading up to the IAMR3 and GFMD counter events, an International Tribunal of Conscience, will be held,a peoples’ trial which will hear testimonials of migrants, refugees and displaced peoples who have been victimized by anti-migrant policies, abusive working situations, unscrupulous employers and placement agencies, deportation and imprisonment. The first hearing of the Tribunal is taking place this week at the Fourth World Social Forum on Migration in Quito, Ecuador. The outcome of the Tribunal will be presented at the IAMR3.

That the IAMR3 will take place in Mexico is significant not only to denounce the Fourth GFMD but to draw attention to Mexico’s role in the export of people. Mexico is one of the largest senders or exporters of migrant labor in the world today, with 10% of its population working and living overseas as migrants or immigrants. Large numbers of Mexican migrants continue to be deported, particularly from the US. Many face poor treatment, including imprisonment and criminal charges, on return to Mexico.

In addition to the November 6-8 Assembly, IAMR3 events will include a People’s Caravan departing November 8 for Guadalajara en route to Puerto Vallarta for a mass action to denounce the GFMD program. This important series of actions represents the continuing struggle of migrant workers and advocates to expose the anti-people anti-migrant objectives of the GFMD and its member countries. Migration is not a solution to the global economic crisis. People fleeing poverty and war for survival should not have to pay for the failure of neo-liberal globalization.

For additional information please go to

To organize interviews or speak with organizers please contact:

Mexico - Dr. Camilo Pérez Bustillo, Profesor-Investigador, Posgrado para la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, Cel. 04455 2944 7511

Canada - Tess Tesalona, member of the International Coordinating body for the IAMR3 and – of International Migants’ Alliance. Email: tess_iwc (at)

USA - Julia Camagong – National Alliance of Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)Email:   juyacam (at)

Hongkong – Eni Lestari, Chair International Migrants’ Alliance,Email: lestarihk (at)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Statement of the International Migrants Alliance on the massacre of 72 undocumented migrants in Tamaulipas, Mexico

The International Migrants Alliance condemns in the strongest possible terms the massacre of 72 undocumented migrants in Mexico on August 24, 2010.

We demand that justice should be given to them with the perpetrators prosecuted and punished.

Found with hands bound behind their backs and shot in the head in the Gulf coast state of Tamaulipas, these 72 migrants from Honduras, Ecuador, El Salvador and Brazil were rounded up, intimidated and being extorted from by drug traffickers before they were all summarily executed.

The fate of the 72 undocumented migrants, 14 of whom were women, is just one of the many cases of abuses committed against migrants, especially the undocumented. Already, the National Human Rights Commission of the Mexican Government has reportedly received 10,000 cases of migrant kidnappings in the first half of 2010 in Mexico.

Despite these reports, not a single case has been resolved by the Mexican government as thousands of migrants are subjected to physical and sexual abuse, torture, trafficking and prostitution, harassment and intimidation, and enforced disappearance. Until now, not a single case has been resolved as the Mexican police, military and some government officials are allegedly involved in many of these cases.

This epidemic of abuse and violence that the migrants are subjected to is brought about and further aggravated by the Mexican government’s policy to criminalize the undocumented migrants in the name of national security and campaign against drug trafficking.

The migrants’ ordeal does not stop even if they have gone past the highly-militarized US-Mexico border. The U.S. government’s campaign to criminalize and crack down on undocumented migrants is as rabid if not more vicious than that of the Mexico government’s.

We cannot help but ask: is this how the Mexican government paves the way for the 4th Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) happening in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico this November? Is this how the Mexican government and the GFMD aim to address the growing international call to stop criminalization of undocumented migrants? The GFMD has proven in its past three assemblies to be a forum that is detrimental to the interests of migrants. It and its policies should be exposed and opposed at all times.

What happened to the 72 undocumented migrants should not happen again.

The IMA demands the Mexican government to uphold justice for the 72 victims by launching an immediate and thorough investigation of this gruesome crime and punishing the main culprits. We likewise call on the governments of Honduras, Ecuador, El Salvador and Brazil in not only closely monitoring the investigation but help in resolving the case. All these governments should likewise compensate the families of the victims.

We also call on the Mexican government to renege on its oppressive anti-migrant campaign and instead institute programs that will concretely resolve the urgent issues of migrants in the country.

As we demand to answer the root causes of why these migrants are forced to leave their families and home countries, the criminalization and crackdown of undocumented migrants should be immediately stopped.

Eni Lestari, Chairperson (+ 852-9608-1475)
International Migrants Alliance

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We are not criminals! We are not terrorists! - Migrant workers organize in Korea

Sit-in Struggle against the crackdown in the name of the G-20

Third Report

* July 21 (Wednesday)
This morning we participated in a press conference calling for cancellation of the layoff of irregular workers by the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (Nonghyup), which was held in front of the Nonghyup office near Seodaemun Station. As always, Nonghyup still refuses to guarantee the rights of irregular workers. In addition, they fired the Branch Leader of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation Branch of the Korean Clerical Workers Union for Solidarity, using the end of his contract as an excuse. We showed our solidarity for the workers’ struggle and raised our voices in protest.

In the afternoon, we participated in a mass rally held by KCTU in Jonggak. Despite the heat many workers gathered to protest democratic unionism and show their resolve to continue their struggle in the second half of the year. At this protest we handed out fliers criticizing the crackdown on undocumented migrants and calling for support for our sit-in protest.

* July 23 (Friday)
The President of MTU gave a solidarity speech at the Students’ Alterglobalization Forum. We also made a call for greater attention to and support for the rights of migrant workers during a session migrant workers’ human and labor rights. In the afternoon Filipino workers visited us for counseling and advice. One of the workers was pregnant and hoping to get an extension of the time allowed for finding new work. Her problem was that the Job Center refused to grant her more time because her three-year residence period would soon end. In the evening we participated in a memorial service for Samsung Electronics workers who had died due to industrial accidents and passed out leaflets.

* July 24 (Saturday)
We participated in a conference on Marxism. MTU’s President gave a lecture on the situation of migrant workers. After the lecture there was a lively discussion and participants carried out street outreach and fund-raising for our struggle against the crackdown.

In the evening we had a cultural event with MTU members. We gave a report about the sit-in and our future plans. There were also many performances. We learned a Filipino movement song and watched a dance performed by members of the sit-in protest. We also played fun games and generally had a good time.


* July 25 (Sunday)
This was the first day of the MTU President’s hunger strike. We participated in a Rally against the Crackdown on Undocumented Migrant Workers held by Daegu Migrants Solidarity Group, KCTU Northern Gyeongsan Regional Council, Norther Gyeongsan General Union and Gyeongsan Migrant Workers Center. Despite the hot weather, any migrant workers from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Philippines, China and Indonesia participated. The MTU President gave a solidarity speech in which he noted that we must strengthen solidarity among all workers who are oppressed if we are to win respect for our rights. At the end of the protest participants threw water balloons in a symbolic act. After the protest we had a meeting with migrant workers from the Daegu area. The Daegu migrant workers resolved to carry out various actions to protest the crackdown.

*July 26 (Monday)
This was the 14thday of the sit-in protest and the second day of the President’s hunger strike. During the day roughly 15 lawyers and trainees from the organization Minbyun visited our protest sit and expressed their solidarity. They said they would continue activities to support our struggle. In the afternoon we participated in a protest held by the National Street Vendors Confederation and gave a solidarity speech.

Several officers from KCTU Seoul Regional Council also visited us, as did comrades from the National Alliance of Irregular Workers Unions and members form the “Do Something to Stop the Crackdown” group.

The Migrants Trade Union has been conducting a sit-in protest at Hyangrin Church in Myeongdong since July 13 to protest the South Korean government’s unjust crackdown against undocumented migrant workers.

MTU’s President began a hunger strike on July 25.
This act is an earnest call for an end to the criminalization of and repression against undocumented migrants’ rights. We ask for you solidarity and support.

Please send messages of solidarity to:*
Please post news of the sit-in protest on your website.

* On Friday, July 30 at 7pm, there is a candlelight vigil against the crackdown in front of the Myeong cathedral (every Friday)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Migrante-Australia launches first assembly

By Reyvi Mariñas

Amidst drum beats, the delegates entered the hallway holding their banners. They introduced their organisations with joyous and militant chants.

With around 60 delegates from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia and guests from Migrante International in thePhilippines, Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants in Hong Kong and Migrante in New Zealand, Migrante-Australia launched its first national assembly on 12 June 2010 at Chapel by the Sea, Bondi, New South Wales.

MigOz 8 International delegates.jpgCouncillor Dominique Wy Kanak, an Aboriginal Elder and a Councillor for Waverly Council, welcomed the delegates and acknowledged the indigenous owners of the land. He cried: “Land Rights Now!” symbolising the aboriginal struggle on their land. He also gave a short talk on the history of indigenous struggle in Australia and indigenous history locally.

Reverend Pastor John Queripel of Chapel by the Sea also welcomed all the delegates and bid the assembly success.

Afterwards, Mr Gary Martinez, the Chairperson of Migrante International, delivered the keynote address. He discussed the worsening conditions of Filipino migrants, the impact of the global financial crisis on Filipinos abroad, and the role of migrant Filipinos in Australia. But he also mentioned about the growing movement of Filipino migrant workers in major destination countries and the establishment of the Internationakl Migrants Alliance.

He then posed a question to the audience regarding the newly elected president Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III: Will there be substantial changes under the new government of Noynoy Aquino?

“It is quite clear that the Aquino regime will not bring about real change in our country by instituting genuine agrarian reform and national industrialisation which can generate real employment. It will not qualitatively change the semicolonial and semifeudal conditions of the Philippines,” he said.

He finally urged the delegates to let the Filipino community feel Migrante-Australia’s presence and “to be creative in bringing them into the fold of the progressive movement of overseas Filipinos under the flag of Migrante-Australia.”

MigOz Opening.jpgThe keynote address was followed by workshops commenting on the draft General Program of Action (GPOA). The participants suggested concrete demands and resolutions as well as future campaigns of the alliance.

One pressing issue was the situation of Filipino migrants and temporary workers in Australia and the erosion of their rights amidst anti-migrant policies of both the Australian and Philippine governments.

Another important issue raised was the continuing human rights situation in the Philippines, and related issues including Australian military aid to the Philippines and the possible prosecution of the then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for her crimes committed against the Filipino people.

Mr Jun Tellez, member of the Global Council of Migrante International, gave a short talk on the importance of leadership principles and practices.

In the afternoon, other workshops were held finalising the alliance’s constitution, followed by a solidarity cultural presentation in the evening. As different organisations preformed, it heightened the atmosphere of solidarity and camaraderie of the delegates.

On the second day, the delegates ratified the alliance’s constitution and also finalised the alliance’s GPOA to provide a roadmap of what the alliance wish to achieve in the next three years.

MigOz 11 - Twilight Vigil.jpgSeveral resolutions were passed and different committees were formed including research/education, campaign, solidarity and finance. These committees will focus on different areas of the alliance’s work as agreed in the GPOA.

To lead the alliance, members of the Executive Committee were elected at large by the voting delegates.

Elected members of the Executive Committee are : George Kotsakis of Migrante Melbourne as Chairperson; Mario Royeca of Lingap Migrante as Deputy Chairperson, Onofre ‘Bong’ Andres of Lingap Migrante as Secretary General, Reyvi Mariñas of Migrante Melbourne as Deputy Secretary General; and Stephanie Rabusa of Migrante Melbourne as Treasurer.

The formation of Migrante-Australia marked a remarkable episode in the movement of progressive Filipino migrants and workers in Australia.

It was a timely effort to forge a stronger and higher unity in the midst of imperialist globalisation which aggravates the abuse and exploitation of Filipino migrants in Australia.

Indeed, Migrante-Australia will have ‘one voice’ to “unite and advance the rights of migrants in Australia”. #

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Statement: Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants on 100th anniversary of International Women's Day

The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) is one with the exploited women of the world in the commemoration of the 100th year of the International Women's Day and in their continuing fight for comprehensive rights in society.

Many of such oppressed women are migrant workers and immigrants including those who are undocumented or in an irregular status. Their conditions have been exacerbated by the failure of neo-liberal globalization and have led to more discriminatory and restrictive policies imposed by governments of labour importing countries.

One such policy is the national verification scheme of Thailand which is a guise to set the stage for a massive crackdown on undocumented foreign workers and refugees which already started in March 3. This would affect a million and a half persons, most of who are from Burma.

In the Middle East and in Taiwan most of those who run away from their employers are female domestic workers who were abused. Instead of being accorded protection and assistance by government authorities, those who were accused by their employers of absconding in the Middle East end up being jailed instead.

While in South Korea, Macau, Malaysia and in many other countries there is no let up in the intensification of the crackdown on undocumented migrant workers many of whom are women. Being in an irregular status makes them criminals in the eyes of these governments. And they have no rights whatsoever and physical and sexual abuse on them is done with impunity.

Even those who offer humanitarian assistance to them like food and shelter are likewise categorized as criminals. In Macau there is a new law being discussed that would make it a criminal offense for one who rents out a flat to undocumented migrants. Ironically, there is another law set to take effect on April 26, 2010 that would push migrant workers to become undocumented. This pertains to a provision which stipulates that if a non-resident worker initiates the termination of a contract without just cause he/she would be banned to work in the territory for 6 months.

Ironically, some of the countries in the region that are some of the most vicious to attack the rights of women are also in the ASEAN formation that will soon come up with a regional instrument on the rights of women and children.

Indeed the lives of these women who toil far from their shores are almost similar to the conditions of working women in industrially developing countries 100 years ago. There is still a lot of effort needed to be done in organizing and empowering migrant women workers including those who are undocumented and in encouraging more people to advocate their cause. Examples of this include the member organizations of KASAMMAKO (a Filipino alliance) and the formation of the Migrants Trade Union (MTU) both in South Korea.

Other than this, we shall advance and continue to develop unities achieved in the formations like the AMMORE or Action Network for Marriage Migrants Rights and Empowerment, the network on undocumented migrants and the Migrants Caucus on the ASEAN

We shall also push the advocacies on domestic workers of the United for Foreign Domestic Workers’ Rights (UFDWR) and contribute to the strengthening and expansion of the International Migrants Alliance or IMA.

We enjoin all grassroots women to actively take part in the establishment of the International Women’s Alliance in August this year. The formation of the IWA shall be another important milestone in the continuing struggle of women for emancipation.

Until the cause for freedom and social justice is achieved, the fire that started in the first International Women’s Day shall continue to burn in the oppressed women of the world,

March 8, 2010

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
G/F, No.2 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

Tel. no.: (852) 2723-7536
Fax no.: (852) 2735-4559
General E-mail:

Other Email Addresses:
Managing Director : /
Advocacy Program : /
Research and Publication: /
Women's Program : /


"We dream of a society where families are not broken up by the urgent need for survival."
"We dream and will actively work for a homeland where there is opportunity for everyone to live a decent and humane life."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Strengthening the Voices of Migrant Women

March 1, 2010
By Pet Cleto

Participants in the Migrant Women’s Coordinating Body for International Women’s Day education session on women’s struggles in Toronto.

Participants in the Migrant Women’s Coordinating Body for International Women’s Day education session on women’s struggles in Toronto.

TORONTO — Awakened and courageous hearts were beating loud last February 21, 2010, as the Migrant Women’s Coordinating Body for International Women’s Day opened its second education day for 2010 with a drum-beating by Cherokee and Ojibway activist Amber O’Hara (Waabnong Kwe). The women were around 60-strong but there were some male supporters in the audience. They represented various community organizations and unions from different migrant workers’ communities, desiring to share with others and learn from each other.

The Migrant Women’s Coordinating Body was organized three years ago by women who aimed to strengthen the voices of migrant women and make them an important force for change in Canadian society. Its member organizations are: GABRIELA, Migrante-Ontario, BASICS Free Community Newsletter, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, Justice 4 Migrant Workers, METRAC, Canadian HART, SAWRO, and CUPE Local 4308.

While the first education day (January 21, 2010) focused on international and liberation struggles of the various countries from which migrant women workers come from, the February education day highlighted women’s struggles in Toronto and Canada.

Xolisiwe (Connie) Ndlovu, now the Vice-president of CUPE Local 4308 and a personal support worker, is a refugee from Zimbabwe. She spoke of her fight, since 2002, against the obstacles put on the path of many newcomers by class conflict, racism, and imperialism. Her story starts, like most newcomer stories start, with the demeaning of her previous education and work experience. In her union work, she now challenges issues produced by racism and class-conflict: low wages, lack of benefits and inadequate sick leaves. A strong advocate for equality and equity in our society, she sees the oppression inflicted on women and children today as a violence that is done in the name of “capitalism”.

Amber O’Hara spoke about Canada’s missing or murdered aboriginal women, in whose honour she has dedicated her 18-year long work of research and documentation. The women victims now total 800 in her list, and most of their cases remain unresolved. In 1993 she formed Manitou Kwe singers, a women’s hand drum group which performs specifically these aboriginal women and as well, for justice for people in prisons. Her activism is also driven by a personal loss: the murder of her cousin Carolyn Connolly on August 2, 2008.

Nine organizations were represented in the education day of International Women’s Day held in Toronto on Feb. 21, 2010.

Nine organizations were represented in the education day of International Women’s Day held in Toronto on Feb. 21, 2010.

For Migrante-Canada, former live-in caregiver Maria Sol Pajadura spoke about the various issues on which Migrante and the various organizations within its coalition has undertaken dynamic organizing in order to raise awareness and sharpen the urgent need to make changes in the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). Pointing out that the oppression and exploitation of LCP workers had been locked into place by the tandem of the Philippine government’s Labour Export Policy and the flawed government regulations and policies related to the LCP, she said that Migrante’s recent campaigns have recently created some impact on the Canadian government, and some favourable changes have been made.

However, the fundamental changes that Migrante has raised and brought to the attention of politicians still await some government action. Among them: permanent residency upon arrival, the un-locking of LCP workers from the two-year live-in requirement, and the ratification of the ILO Convention for Migrant Workers and their Families (which would give migrant workers equal rights as workers who are native to the migrant workers’ “host countries”).

The South Asian Women’s Rights Organization (SAWRO) was represented by Sultana Jahangir, who very vividly described the different specific forms that imperialism and capitalism take in the lives of migrant and newcomer women. She called upon everyone to continue sharing their experiences, and to join their hands together in order to advance their common objectives.

Speaking about her work at the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, Ambreen Akbar also gave testimony to the numerous instances when exploitation and oppression have made, and continue to make, the lives of women almost unbearable.

The Migrant Women’s Coordinating Body welcomes the public to its cultural celebration on Friday evening, March 5, Friday, at the Steelworkers’ Hall, in honour of women’s struggles and victories. On International Women’s Day this year, on Saturday, March 6, it will lead a contingent of workers’ groups, grouping together in front of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at 252 Bloor Street West, to join the IWD march as a valiant voice of migrant women workers in Canada. A potent voice for the liberation of Canada’s migrant women has risen.##

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Strengthening the Voices of Migrant Women

Friday, February 26, 2010

IMA calls Thai Government to withdraw crackdown plan on migrants

Press Release
February 26, 2010

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) expressed grave concern over the possible impact of a planned crackdown by the Thai Royal Government on more than 1.4 million migrant workers, mostly from Laos, Cambodia and Burma.

According to the IMA, the crackdown is a wishy-washy move of the Thai government to target migrant workers who have failed to submit to the national verification scheme it has recently implemented. The said national verification scheme requires all migrant workers with a two-year work permit to complete a difficult 13-step application process for visa extension.

While the scheme’s deadline was reportedly moved a month earlier (on March 31), the crackdown will still be immediately implemented thereafter.

“Physical abuse, maltreatment and subhuman conditions these are but a few of bad things to come to migrant workers who will be arrested and detained once the Thai government pursues its crackdown,“ said Eni Lestari, chairperson of the IMA. “The Thai government should rethink this plan as it does not only violate a number of regional and international conventions but tramples upon the basic rights of migrant workers.”

Lestari likewise lamented the possible threat the crackdown will have on the Burmese refugees, who make up 80% of the targeted migrants. She said: “Should the crackdown push through, Burmese refugees will not only be subjected to arrest and detention but forced back into a country where they fear for their lives – the very reason they left.”

The crackdown, said Lestari, shall violate the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers which the Thai government recently signed. “With a tarnished human rights record after its maltreatment of the Rohingyas in early 2009, the Thai government could never assure anyone that it shall protect migrant workers,” added Lestari.

The IMA likewise sounded the alarm over the apparently calibrated attack on migrant workers at a global scale. Thailand is the latest government to impose a crackdown on migrant workers following Australia (who recently imposed a crackdown on skilled migrants), Italy and Malaysia.

“It is the most despicable display of hypocrisy on the part of governments who mouth promises to uphold migrants rights but do otherwise,” said Lestari, “Migrant workers, especially the undocumented, are being subjected to criminalization and outright denial of their fundamental rights in countries where more stringent immigration policies are being imposed and racial hatred being fanned”

She retorted further that sending governments should ensure the protection of their citizens and push for agreements with receiving governments to uphold and promote the latter’s rights.

The IMA, the first ever global alliance of grassroots migrant organizations and their advocates, calls on its more than 120 member organizations, friends and the rest of the international community to actively build up the campaign against any crackdown on migrant workers.

“International human rights conventions and laws will remain meaningless in paper if they are not recognized, ratified and actively championed. We call on all migrant workers and refugees to remain vigilant, organize themselves and work with local organizations and movements in stopping this crackdown,” concluded Lestari.

For reference: Eni Lestari
Chairperson, International Migrants Alliance
+852 9608-1475


Uphold and Protect the Rights of Migrants:
Online Petition to Stop the Impending Massive Crackdown of Undocumented Migrant Workers in Thailand

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Global Day of Action for the 254 Tamil Asylum Seekers stranded on a boat in Merak Indonesia

+Please circulate widely+

Global Day of Action for the 254 Tamil Asylum Seekers stranded on a boat in Merak Indonesia

Date:Friday February 19, 2010

Time: 4:00pm - 7:00 pm

Location: Indonesian Consulate - 129 Jarvis street Toronto, Canada

There are 31 children and a pregnant women who is due on March 5, 2010 on this boat. Over 254 people have been living on this vessel made to hold 50 people for over four months. Under poor sanitary conditions illnesses have been spreading fast, and they have been denied access to medical assistance.

The situation is only getting worse by the minute!

Come out on this Friday February 19th determined to make a difference. Determination and will power is the strongest of all tools.

Below is a link to the facebook event:!/event.php?eid=320547412497

Thank you,

Canadian HART Team

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

IMA condemns Indonesian government's detention of refugee advocates

Press Release: February 2, 2010
For reference: Eni Lestari, Chairperson
Contact # +1 (852) 9608-1475

The International Migrants Alliance condemns the unjust detention of three refugee advocates by the Indonesian authorities last January 26, 2009.

Jessica Chandrashekar of the Canada-based Humanitarian Appeal for Relief of Tamils, Pamela Curr of the Melbourne-based Asylum Seeker Resource Center and Australian Tamil Congress member Sara Nathan were on their way to provide humanitarian aid to the more than 240 Tamil asylum seekers stuck in a boat in Merak, Indonesia when they were arrested by the Indonesian authorities.

They were detained, questioned and released by the authorities the following day but was arrested and detained right after. On January 30, news reports stated that the two Australian advocates have been released and deported.

“The detention of the three refugee advocates is not only illegal but a gross violation of their rights and freedoms,” said Eni Lestari, IMA chairperson. “As the Indonesian government continues to ignore the plight of the Tamil refugees in Merak, they had the audacity to capture and detain Jessica, Pamela and Sara who only wanted to help.”

In October 2009, the Indonesian navy intercepted the Australia-bound boat in Merak upon the request of the Australian government. The refugees refused to come ashore fearing they will wait years for resettlement.

The IMA holds both the Indonesian and Australian governments accountable for the plight of the said Tamil asylum seekers. “It is quite ironic that, as international conventions are being signed and ratified to protect migrants and refugees, it is governments like Indonesia and Australia that break the rules and violate their rights. Now, they are extending it to advocates and refugees.”

The IMA calls on an immediate investigation on the said arrest and detention of the refugee advocates as well as challenges international institutions such as the ASEAN in addressing the plight of the Tamil refugees in Merak.