Monday, October 27, 2008

Solidarity Forever! The Movements Converge

by Colin Rajah
Oct 25-26, 2008

The People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights (PGA), reached its programmatic climax with a candle-light protest march and the global opening ceremonies this past Saturday evening, and convergence workshops, reporting, and adoption of its Joint Declaration on Sunday.

What was particularly unique and inspiring about these days, was the convergence of migrant groups with labor unions, struggling side by side together. Just like back home in the U.S., the relationship between these movements in other parts of the world and especially in Asia, have been tenuous at best, and more often, opposed. But here, we have come together in the PGA, found common ground in our principles, and have joined forces to challenge the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and what it stands for.

After a long day of workshops and meetings, everyone who gathered in the Rajah Sulayman Park (the same one for which our permit had been revoked!) on Saturday evening, was rewarded with fresh energy from the sheer beauty of the scores of illuminating candles and the size and diversity of the crowd. A few turns around the park with chants in multiple languages (mostly raising the slogan for migrant rights), and we made our way to the school gym where we had been forced to hold our ceremonies instead of the park. (Click here for video clips of the march.)

After yours truly got to lead the crowd with some chants, an interesting and diverse slate of opening keynote speeches followed, comprised of the following:
  • Gemma Adaba (based in New York) from the International Trade Union Confederation and the Global Unions Federation;
  • Our own Mamadou Goita from the Institute for Research and Promotion of Alternative Development (IRPAD) in Mali;
  • Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN and former UN Human Rights Council President; and
  • Our own Rex Verona from the Asian Migrant Center in Hong Kong.
Gemma condemned the exploitation of migrant labor around the world, Mamadou decried the plundering of African resources (including its own people resources) in the name of development, and Amb. de Alba expressed frustration and pessimism that human rights is hardly discussed in governmental dialogues like the GFMD. Rex gave a moving testimonial exemplifying the plight of Filipinos and others being exported on a daily basis only to face repression and abuse as migrant workers.

Concluding the evening was another moving performance by a Japanese-Filipino youth group, who used interpretive dance to express their plight as victims of militarism and the exploitative sex industry.

On Sunday, another series of workshops were held along the themes of labor unions and human rights, trade and debt, and governance and migration policy. Unlike the self-organized workshops from previous days, these ones were jointly organized by alliances of unions, migrant groups, human rights organizations, women’s movements, anti-globalization and debt organizations etc. This mix allowed for rich debates and fresh insights and recommendations for joint actions.

All of these were then reported back and concluded with the adoption of the Joint Declaration which will be presented to the governments this Tuesday. To see a copy of the declaration, go to

Tomorrow should be another exciting day with since it will be the first day of the so-called official civil society discussions, and plans for a massive protest march and rally to confront the GFMD. Look for a report on that back here.

And also, to get a vivid image of the candle-light march and other key talking points from these couple of days, don’t forget to visit NNIRR’s YouTube channel ( for video clips, and then return back here for more reports the rest of this week.

Photos credit:
- Arnoldo Garcia
- Colin Rajah

1 comment:

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