The International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) was held on 28th-30th October at the Bay view Hotel, Manila. Around 180 delegates from different parts of the world attended the assembly. The theme of the International Assembly was – “Migrants Challenge to the GFMD: End poverty, ensure jobs at home, stop forced migration! Uphold and Protect the rights of Migrants and Refugees! The 3 days assembly consisted of presentations by activists, workshops on the issue of migration from different NGOs/Civil societies and students movement, plenary, speak out by the migrants, protest/rally. The IAMR was a platform for the activists, advocates, migrants and the like minded groups who are working for and with the migrants to oppose and stop forced migration. The presentations on the topics were – The Political Economy of Migration and development – Promotion and Protection of Migrants rights: Issues and Challenges – Unmasking the Labor Export Policies of sending countries – War and globalization: impact on migrants and refuges and A critical analysis on the GFMD process.
“The youth are not for export, the youth’s future is not for sale” and “No to forced migration, no to labor export” were the slogans by the students and youth during a demonstration on October 27, joined by WSCF AP, SCMP, the International Youth Action Day spearheaded by national youth groups in the Philippines together with the Asia-Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA) and International Movement of Catholic Students Asia-Pacific. The youth and students came to the street and demanded for a decent life in the home country. The young women from the WSCF AP were symbolically put the boxes written –“Nurses, Care takers, Domestic helpers, entertainers, mail ordered brides for export” The women were chanting “We are not for export, we are not for sale”
IAMR critiqued the neo-liberal framework of GFMD—liberalization, deregulation and privatization—its promotion even by imperialist countries to replace the “official development aid” to underdeveloped countries and exploit the desperation of people of poorer countries to move out of their countries primarily for economic survival. According to the IAMR, “While there is some truth that remittances temporarily alleviate the financial woes of families of migrants, this perverse notion signifies greater commodification of migrants and the perpetuation of conditions for cheap labor, not to mention the social costs of migration, especially on children and families.” The IAMR convinced that forced migration is the modern day form of slavery. While the presentations unmasked the labor export policies and the agenda to sustain the ailing economy of the country by critical analysis the migrants shared the bitter truth of the misery and their suffering in the foreign land. The IAMR was also a space to build the international solidarity to address and confront the issue of migration in a more systematic manner.
The international community of IAMR came down to the street to show their solidarity and oppose the ongoing GFMD, which is paving the way for forced migration. The huge rally walked in the street of Manila chanting the slogans – No to GFMD, No to Forced Migration, No to labor export, No to Modern day of Slavery, Create jobs at home etc.
On 30th October many NGOs organized workshops on Migration from various perspectives. Global Migration and Education: Dissecting the Links and Impact of Globalization on Education the Youth and the Family was organized by the WSCF AP, Asian Students Association, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, and ANAKBAYAN-ILPS Youth Commission.
Prof. Robyn Rodriguez, IMA International Coordinating Body member and a Filipino immigrant in the United States, shared of some historical events which present relevant experiences in organizing and raising awareness of migrants as well as the second-generation immigrants. She also discussed of how the legacies of US colonialism and imperialism in the underdeveloped countries also have an impact on the policies for labor export.
Prof. Sarah Raymundo, member of the Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy, and Ken Leonard Ramos, chairperson of Anakbayan (Sons and Daughters of the People) presented insights on the state of education in colonies and neo-colonies, and how globalization policies in education are imposed so that people, especially the youth, are sent out of their countries to add up to the workforce in receiving countries.