The workshop conducted by the ILPS Commission 15 on Migrants, Immigrants, Refugees and Displaced People was attended by participants from the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, United States, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Ecuador, Colombia and Palestine.
The two-part workshop featured discussions on current developments and issues of migrants and other forcibly displaced communities to enrich the understanding of the participants as well as the workings of the commission. Resolutions especially on highlighted particular issues were also affirmed.
Malcolm Guy, Secretary General of the ILPS gave an input on Imperialism and Forced Displacement, and the Fight for a Better Future for People Displaced.
In his presentation, Malcolm presented the intensification of forced migration in the context of the development of capitalism up to its current stage of imperialism. He highlighted the deterioration of economic, political and social conditions in migrant-sending countries due to imperialist crisis and dictates that propel displacement. Due to the needs of capitalist countries, open-door policies were implemented and the migration of people from the South were encouraged and even programmed.
Malcolm also noted the development in transportation, technology and finance as contributing to the more massive, faster and more systematic migration of workers and its resulting transfer of financial remittances.
He also mentioned the increasing phenomenon of climate refugees due to climate change induced disasters. Said phenomenon, he said, is rooted in imperialist crisis and plunder that destroy the environment and leave people from poor countries even more vulnerable to calamities.
Malcolm also applauded the developments in the organizing of migrants. He commended the grassroots migrants organizations for continuously strengthening their ranks at various levels – from national to international – to resist imperialist neoliberal agenda. He encouraged workshop participants to develop further their methods in organizing migrants, refugees and displaced peoples through creative ways such as telling migrant stories through films.
II. Discussion points
1. Issues of migrants and neoliberal designs
Workshop participants shared on various issues confronting migrants in their respective countries including wage, employment security, racism, discrimination, violence, social exclusion and various other concerns that show how migrants are treated as a subclass community and disposable workers. The commodification of migrants, their treatment as cheap workers and their oppression were identified as expressions of neoliberal thrusts on migration.
Participants also stressed that migration of temporary workers and immigrants are essentially forced owing to the basic structural conditions in countries of origin. It was also emphasized that free trade deals pushed by imperialist powers cause large-scale displacement and forced migration of people.
2. Internal displacement
In the sharing of experiences, a number of workshop participants raised the concern of internal displacement as part of the overall displacement of people. For similar reasons as those who are displaced cross-borders, internally displaced people are also forced to leave their homes and lands due to economic, political, social and even environmental factors.
Philippine delegates shared the organizing work among urban poor communities who are rural people who moved to cities due to lack of opportunities and armed conflicts in the countryside. Meanwhile, delegates from the United States also raised the fast -creeping gentrification as the cause of displacement of people that has to be addressed.
The workshop upheld the need for the ILPS to create a separate commission to make further research and analysis on the problem of internal displacement of people.
3. Refugees and killing of migrants in transit
The workshop also discussed the refugee problem. Delegates from the Palestinian Youth Movement reported that there are currently seven million Palestinian refugees who are not able to return home. According to them, there are actually more Palestinians outside than inside Palestine. They affirmed their stand against the two-state solution because it does not address the refugee question.
They also reported that many Palestinians are internally displaced. A lot of people who live in Gaza are not originally from Gaza. Many of them have already been displaced one or two three times.
Delegates from Australia reported that, currently, no boat people are being processed in said country. They appealed to the Commission to condemn the inhumane rule that says refugees will be allowed to settle in Australia only with the economic backing from the countries where they came from.
In Canada, meanwhile, it was reported that the definition of refugees is limited to countries of origin that are at war. This definition excludes the Philippines that is, in fact, under a civil war.
According to the delegates from Central America, refugees from the region are denied refugee status by the US government when in fact its interventionist policies are responsible for the displacement of people in the region.
Workshop participants agreed to further look into the situation of women refugees, undocumented migrants and migrants in detention.
Meanwhile, delegates from Latin America urged the commission to include in its agenda the situation of victims of enforced disappearance. They said that relatives of the people of the disappeared who are in the US are also becoming victims of organized crime syndicates. They urged the Commission to actively show solidarity with the families of the disappeared.
4. The Right to Development
It was also stressed in the workshop that forced migration is very much related to dubious development programs imposed by international institutions. Through the efforts of progressive Third World governments there has been official recognition of their right to development but practice is another matter. New forms of domination and aggression have practically nullified the right to development of Third World countries. The unhampered plunder of natural resources and the resulting effect on to climate change further impinge on the underdeveloped countries efforts to pursue sustainable development.
5. Role and work of commission
The workshop also spent time to discuss the relationship of ILPS Commission No. 15 and the International Migrants Alliance (IMA). Eni Lestari, chairperson of the IMA, gave an account of the history of the IMA and how the members of the Commission played an active role in its formation and its work.
The workshop affirmed that while no organizational relation exists between Commission 15 and IMA, a complementary relationship can be operationalized on common concerns. Members of Commission 15 who work with IMA and within IMA can try to see how the decisions and resolutions of Commission 15 and ILPS can be implemented by the alliance.
III. Resolutions and plans of action
The following were special resolutions adopted by the Commission
1. Support the right to return of Palestinians and oppose the aggression of US-backed Israel against the Palestinian people.
2. Urge the ILPS to create a commission on homelessness/internal migrants and internally displaced people by imperialism and local reaction (Note: Full resolution attached)
3. Conduct further studies on and campaign against human trafficking (Note: Full resolution attached)
4. Support and strengthen the campaign against forced disappearance of people crossing borders from South America to the North.
5. Support the “I Want to Speak Out” campaign of marriage migrants (Note: Full resolution attached)
6. Campaign for the recognition of refugees and their rights to return and to work.
7. Deepen the study on forced migration rooted in imperialist crisis, plunder and war. Campaign against TPP and imperialist-led free trade agreements.
8. Develop and strengthen campaign for stateless people and the undocumented migrants.
9. Campaign against suppression of wage, xenophobia and racial violence.
10. Campaign against making migrants as scapegoats for crisis and the promotion of states of anti-migrant calls.
Concretely, the Commission workshop came up with the following action plans that members of the Commission can work on:
1. Conduct baseline research and exchange of data that will provide a sharper analysis on the imperialist war and crisis, and its impact on forced migration, refugee crisis and internally displaced people
a. Study on refugees including stateless people
b. Study on the issue of national borders and its impacts on forced migration
c. Further study on women refugees, undocumented migrants and migrants in detention
2. Release a primer and basic materials on right to development
3. Organize a conference on the right to development together with IMA USA and IMA Canada.
4. Promote cultural exchanges among Commission members
5. Conduct a research on the Palestinian struggle and refugee crisis
Resolution to establish a study commission on the welfare and rights of homeless, internal migrants, urban poor and other internally displaced people and communities by imperialism and local reaction
ILPS Commission 15 has been focused on the concerns of migrants and is now expanding to investigate and wage campaigns on the concerns of refugees but has not been able to integrate the concerns of homeless, internal migrants, urban poor people and communities displaced by real estate speculation and gentrification, development aggression, militarization and criminalization and police harassment of survival activities and other forces of imperialism and local reaction.
The numbers of homeless, urban poor and other people displaced by imperialism and local reaction is increasing rapidly in the current context of crisis and war both in the imperialist countries and in the oppressed countries.
Many of these organizations of the homeless, internal migrants, urban poor people and other displaced people are resisting imperialism and local reaction and can be brought into the anti-imperialist united front.
There is a need to give sufficient attention to organizations engaged in these struggles, both those currently in the ILPS and the many groups that can be brought into the orbit of ILPS.
Therefore, we put forward and adopt the following plan of action:
1. Convene a study commission to share experiences, develop analysis and reach out to groups both inside and outside the ILPS – the first task of the study commission is to ensure the representation of organizations from all the global regions.
2. Plan exchanges, regional meetings and other activities in the lead up to the next International Assembly of the ILPS.
3. Organize new and existing ILPS organizations working in this area to attend and participate in the ILPS 6th International Assembly.
4. Launch a new commission at the next International Assembly on The Welfare and rights of homeless, internal migrants, urban poor and other internally-displaced people and communities by imperialism and local reaction.
Organizational leads: KADAMAY-Philippines, Migrante International, Vancouver Renters Union-Canada
Resolution on human trafficking
Whereas, the imperialist crisis has so intensified that it no longer just profits from the export of capital, goods and services but even from the use of cheap labor from poor sending countries to destination countries.
Whereas, the constant and never-ending supply of cheap labor is maintained and sustained by neoliberal policies implemented by puppet governments that displace peasants from their homes and land in favor of big businesses, and leave workers with no jobs or very low wages resulting in immense poverty and misery for millions. Meanwhile, increasing demand for cheap docile labor from rich countries have resulted in the creation of an even larger labor force with increasingly lower wages.
Thus, the new bilateral and multilateral economic agreements such as what the APEC intends to forge under the leading US imperialist power, will only ensure the continued plunder of under-developed countries and push millions of poor, unemployed people to become migrant workers.
Imperialist powers will make certain that these neoliberal policies will continue to do so. They have launched Wars of Aggression that have created millions of refugees and displaced people. The stage has been set. The further commodification of labor will inevitably intensify even further the violation of the rights of migrants and exploitation of their labor.
Such a stage will also heighten trafficking in persons (men, women, and children). For instance, the US which has been paying lip service to the campaign against human trafficking has just upgraded Malaysia‘s grade on Human Trafficking to Tier 2, completely turning a blind eye to the rampant incidence of Human Trafficking, and the Malaysian government‘s accountability on the Rohingya crisis. This is in exchange for Malaysia‘s approval of the TPP.
Countries who would agree to the US-sponsored Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), for example, may find themselves in even terrible conditions, a deeper rut, as their economies are further restructured to serve neoliberal ends or imperialist globalization. Their people will become more impoverished, thus worsening labor and migrant rights violations and further fueling the export of labor.
The experience of Mexico in NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) led to more massive migration of Mexicans to the US as their industries crumbled against US competition. Wages fell and working conditions became horrible while US companies amassed super profits.
Like the NAFTA, the TPPA will surely benefit corporations with access to cheap labor. On the other hand, labor and migrant rights will get a beating. Human Trafficking will become the norm, increase worldwide, and continue to be a global industry raking in billions of dollars for traffickers and corporations.
In this light, people‘s organizations and movements must gather their own power to stop imperialism in its tracks and stop Human Trafficking.
Thus, we, the Commission 15 and the whole of ILPS, resolve to do the following:
One, expose the different forms of Human Trafficking spawned by imperialism and its cohorts.
Two, fight TPPA. It is a fight not only for labor and migrant rights but also for economic and national sovereignty
Three, seek international solidarity and unity against imperialism.
Four, fight APEC and launch mass actions to mark the people‘s protest against imperialist globalization.
Resolution to support the “I want to speak out” campaign of marriage migrants
A number of participants in the workshop of Commission 15 have presented oppressive legislations that put marriage migrants in precarious situation in receiving countries. The uncertainty of residency status of the marriage migrants in Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and other destination countries reinforce racism, discrimination and exploitation.
In upholding the rights and wellbeing of marriage migrants and strengthening the organizing work that has been started in the past years, the AMMORE (Action Network for Marriage Migrants Rights and Empowerment) has decided to run a campaign “i want to speak out” in 2016.
The campaign aims to give voice to marriage migrants who have been silenced by their condition and policies that make them vulnerable to abuses and oppression as migrants and as women who comprise most of the marriage migrants. It includes awareness raising, advocacy on concrete issues, solidarity building with other sectors of the migrants community, and expansion and strengthening of the marriage migrants movement.
The participants of Commission 15 workshop have accepted to support “i want to speak out”. The campaign organisers in different countries will be issuing statements on marriage migrants during the International Women’s Day (March 8) and the International Migrants’ Day (December 18). The Commission 15 members shall also be closely coordinating AMMORE on campaign issues of marriage migrants including advocacy against discrimination, against violence against marriage migrants, and for their comprehensive rights including right to development.