Monday, September 14, 2015

Closer to Home: Calling Again for Solidarity with All Migrants!


Closer to Home: Calling Again for Solidarity with All Migrants!

We mourn and are deeply saddened by the loss of life of 61 people from Indonesia who drowned travelling in an overcrowded boat in poor weather. They were attempting to return home from Malaysia to Tanjong Balai, Indonesia to share the Eid al-Adha holiday with their families. Amongst the dead were 37 men, 23 women and a young girl, whilst 20 were rescued by fisherman and a search and rescue operation.

Malaysia’s refusal to officially recognise its true demand for labour in its economy contributes to the creation of these undocumented workers, who can be exploited as cheap labour without social protection. There is estimated to be up to 2 million undocumented Indonesian migrants workers in Malaysia. Denied safe and legal routes these low-income workers are forced to make dangerous clandestine journeys resulting repeatedly in tragic preventable deaths.

Untold deaths at sea of migrants are appallingly becoming a familiar sickening phenomenon in the region (and elsewhere in the world) – many Rohingya have died trying to escape systematic persecution for decades; many people have died over the years on perilous sea journeys as undocumented migrants, with smugglers or at the hands of human traffickers; or as forced labour in the fishing industries. Where is the justice for all these deaths? The daily reality for too many low-income migrant workers continues to be living in fear and face discrimination, exploitation, violence and death.

Now is the time to put people before profit!

These human tragedies of migrants that spark media frenzy are in reality often the latest exposure of long-standing situations that represent in part states’ resistance to: develop and enforce rights-based migration policies, recognise labour demand and migrants contributions; and respond and guarantee rights of asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution. This visibility of these human rights violations demonstrates there must be a strengthened call to protect through prevention.

We must act to provide and ensure migrants can live in dignity without risking their lives.

In response to the rising number of deaths of migrants we often rightly call for recognition of our common humanity to act. However the credibility of this call will be weakened if we don’t also insist that it is regardless of immigration status, nationality, religion, race, gender or any other status of migrants.  

We must value all human life equally, everywhere.

We reiterate our Regional Call for Migrants’ Rights:

Now is the time for ASEAN member states to demonstrate the collective political will to convert responsibility into practice and demonstrate a commitment to the rights-based protection and access to justice of all migrants.
Now is the time for ASEAN to show solidarity, respect for human rights for all and move beyond rhetoric to abide with the principle of being people-centred.
We urge the entire ASEAN community to unite and be in solidarity all migrants
- Remain vigilant and steadfast in ending these injustices against migrants.

Let us always act in solidarity to guarantee the rights of all migrants
to protection and justice everywhere in the world

Kanlungan Centre Foundation, Inc.
77 K-10 Street, East Kamias, Quezon City

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