Thursday, December 01, 2005

Preview to the 6th WTO meeting in Hong Kong

by Colin Rajah

Colin Rajah, the International Migrant Rights Program Coordinator of the National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights (NNIRR), will be representing the National Network at the upcoming World Trade Organization's (WTO) 6th Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong, December 13th - 18th, 2005.

Part of the San Francisco Bay Area WT-No delegation, and in close collaboration with similar contingents from Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia, Colin will be among the thousands of people who will be challenging the WTO and its global economic policies, while trying to uphold the voices of immigrants that are being unheard at the WTO.

The Bay Area WT-No delegation includes Chinese Progressive Associates (CPA), Chin Jurn Wor Ping (CJWP), Korean Community Center of the East Bay (KCCEB), and other activists and artists of Asian-Pacific Islander (API) descent. The national U.S. API contingent also includes the Garment Workers Center (GWC), Multi-ethnic Immigrant Workers Oranizing Network (MIWON), CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, and Community Organizing Committee (CYOC).

In Hong Kong, the National Network will be coordinating a number of activities including co-organizing a solidarity tent with WT-No and the U.S. API delegation at Victoria Park on December 14th & 15th, from 2pm-5pm, for low-wage workers, especially migrant workers. This solidarity tent space is entitled "Building Solidarity Amongst Garment, Farm, and Other Migrant Workers from San Francisco to Hong Kong."

The National Network will also be co-convening a symposium entitled "Migrant Workers, Human Rights & Trade: Unpacking GATS Mode 4" on the WTO's proposed global guest-worker program, alongside the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Migrant Rights International (MRI). This symposium will be at Victoria Park on December 16th from 11am-5pm. Invited presenters and participants at this 1/2-day forum include the Migrant Forum of Asia (MFA), Migrante-International, FOCUS on the Global South, South Centre, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Via Campesina, and many other migrants from around the region and the world. The symposium will overview what Mode 4 entails, the experiences of other guest-worker programs, testimonials of migrant guest-workers from around the world, as well as discuss strategies and collaborations to embark on from Hong Kong onwards.

In the U.S., the National Network has also co-issued a national call to action alongside Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ) and Jobs with Justice (JwJ) for a week of action for global justice and immigrant rights from December 10th-18th. In addition, the National Network has also called for vigils and other actions and events for Thursday, December 15th, to recognize International Migrants Day (December 18), including highlighting the role the WTO and other similar economic institutions have played in impoverishing and displacing communities around the world and forcing mass migrations, while proposing and implementing mechanisms such as Mode 4 which violate migrant workers' rights and maintaining a pool of cheap, disposable labor for corporate interests. It is expected that dozens of grassroots and community-based organizations will organize actions in cities across the U.S. on December 15th and throughout that week of action.

Watch this space for postings from Hong Kong and the U.S. about activities and experiences related to the WTO meeting, as well as International Migrants Day!

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