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.