Communiqué of the International Migrants Alliance Founding Assembly
"For a long time, others spoke on our behalf. Now we speak for
The message was clear: the time for the voice of the grassroots migrants has
come with the resounding success of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA)
They came from all corners of the world. One hundred and sixty seven delegates
representing 118 organizations from 25 countries participated in the founding
assembly of the first international formation of grassroots migrants on June 15
and 16 in Hong Kong. Among these, 102 were present as founding members (regular
and associate members) while 16 have come as observers. The assemblies also
noted six organizations who have signified to become founding members but were
unable to attend due to visa and financial issues.
In the spirit of international solidarity, the participants shared each
other's experiences, learned from each other's actions, debated and
reached unities that shall propel the IMA in its future programs.
Inputs from a battery of speakers who were mainly from grassroots organizations
of migrants were helpful for the participants to arrive at common understanding
of major issues that migrants face. After a painstaking process of finding
common grounds, the basic principles of the IMA were firmed up.
With the approval of the IMA Constitution, the election of its leadership and
first set of officers and the approval of the General Program of Action (GPOA),
the IMA was finally born.
United we shall break the chains of
The first day of the assembly featured
presentations on the different themes relevant to migrants.
Held at the City University of Hong Kong and co-organized by the Women
Empowerment in Moslem Context of the Southeast Asia Research Center
(WEMC-SEARC), the program was attended by more than 350 migrants including
about 200 foreign workers – mostly domestic workers – from Hong
A well-applauded video that showed the situation that migrants face and why
building the IMA is imperative opened the program. The crowd was moved,
agitated and was put in high spirits to make the assembly a success.
As the names of the organizations attending the IMA were then called, it even
heightened the atmosphere of the success of the assembly.
The Very Revd Andrew Chan, dean of the St. John's Cathedral and board
member of the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW) and the Asia Pacific Mission
for Migrants (APMM) that are both based in Hong Kong, welcomed all the
delegates and bid the conference to achieve its aims.
Afterwards, renowned advocate for migrants, Dr. Irene Fernandez of Tenaganita
(Women's Force) delivered the keynote address to the assembly. She
expounded on the global context of the current migration process, how these
processes have changed and were shaped by the developments of the global
capitalist system, as well as the increased forced migration, especially of
She also took note of the apparent debate between the right to migrate against
the right of people against displacement. She said that such was a false
debate, imposed by people with a superficial understanding of what it means to
be a migrant. "Free movement and the right not to be displaced, are two
essential elements to the assertion of collective and individual
self-determination," Fernandez explained.
Finally, Dr. Fernandez congratulated all the delegates of the IMA as she also
called for revolutionary changes "to break these chains of global
exploitation and oppression."
Dr. Fernandez's address was then followed by a battery of panel
The first panel consisted of noted anti-globalization activists who elaborated
on the theme of Wages, Job Security, Remittances and GATS Mode-4. These topics
were elaborated on by Mr. Aziz Choudry of the GATT watchdog and MR. Sonny
Africa of the respected research think-tank Ibon Philippines. The presentation
of Mr. Jose Gonzales of Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales
gave a concrete face to the ill-effects of globalization as he expounded on the
situation of migrant agricultural workers coming from Mexico.
In the second panel that focused on the War on Terror, Immigration and Refugees
and the Criminalization of Undocumented Migrants, speakers that included Ms.
Sarwat Viqar of the Center for Philippine Concerns in Canada, Mr. Ufuk Berdan
of the Federation of of Turkish Workers in Europe and Mr. Terence Valen of the
Filipino Community Center in the United States discussed how the US-led war on
terror has eroded the rights of migrants especially with many anti-migrant
policies. Mr. Ramon Bultron of the APMM meanwhile expounded on the general
situation that faces the undocumented migrants and their different
Afterwards, Filipino migrants in Hong Kong from the Cordillera region in the
Philippines presented a short play that depicted, in a "Torch Relay"
the history of the struggle of Filipino migrants in Hong Kong.
The third panel was composed of regional and national women leaders who talked
about violence against women, trafficking and globalization. Speakers were Ms.
Emmi de Jesus of the militant women's group Gabriela in the Philippines,
Ms. Asfinawati of Asia Pacific forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and
Hsiao-Chuan Hsia of the Trans Asia Sisters Association of Taiwan (TASAT) which
is an organization of immigrant brides in Taiwan.
The last panel of the day tackled the issue of Health, Family and the Social
Costs of Forced Migration. Speakers for the panel were Ms. Valentina Soe of the
regional group CARAM-Asia, activists from Australia Ms. Vivi
Germanos-Koutsounadis of the Greek Orthodox Community of the New South Wales
and Ms. Jane Brock-Corpus of the Immigrant Women Speakout Association, Prof.
Robyn Rodriquez of Philippine Forum and the National Alliance for Filipino
Concerns in the US, and Mr. Syamsul of SEKBER-BMI which is an organization of
returned migrants and families of migrant workers in Indonesia.
In the evening, the IMA delegates discussed and approved the IMA's Basis of
Unity that shall serve as the Alliance's guiding principles in its work and
activities in the future.
United in one stand, firm and resolute
On the second day, the panel that tackled Organizing, Building of Alliances and
Campaign Strategies was held. Panel speakers were all grassroots migrant
leaders from different countries – Ms. Connie Bragas-Regalado of Migrante
International in the Philippines, Ms. Teresa Gutierrez of the May
1stCoalition for Worker and Immigrant
Rights in the US, Ms. Wol San
Liem of the Migrants' Trade Union (MTU) in Korea and Ms. Eni Lestari of the
Asian Migrant's Coordinating Body (AMCB).
The panel presentations became very important inputs in the finalization of the
Alliance's Constitution and General Program of Action.
Plans included in the GPOA included activities and programs for education and
information, campaign and mobilization that will pick up from the IMA concerns
expressed in the panel topics, international advocacy including challenging the
Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in the Philippines this
October, and expansion of the Alliance including the formation of country
chapters and recruitment of more members from the regions of Africa and Latin
The finalization of the IMA's GPOA elated the delegates as it provided the
roadmap of what the IMA wishes to to achieve for the next three years.
To lead the IMA, members of the International Coordinating Body (ICB) were
chosen by the different global regions as well as elected at-large.
To ensure that global regions are represented in the IMA leadership, regional
caucuses were held to elect their representatives to the ICB. Among them were
Jose Gonzales of FIOB for Latin America, Teresa Gutierrez of May 1st
Coalition for Worker and Immigrant
Rights for the USA, Sol Pajadura of
Migrante-Ontario for Canada, Mr. Ramesh Pandit of Nepalese Labour Organization
for South Asia, Mr. Ufuk Berdan of ATIK for Europe, Mr. Nhel Morona for Middle
East and Africa and Dr. Irene Fernandez for East Asia and Oceania.
Among those ICB members elected at-large were: Ms. Tess Tesalona of Immigrant
Workers Center, Canada; Prof. Robyn Rodriquez of Philippine Forum, USA; Ms.
Rumana Sheikh of BOMSA, Bangladesh; Ms. Grace Punongbayan of MIGRANTE-Europe;
Ms. Eni Lestari of AMCB,HK; Mr. Ali of Federation of Workers from Turkey in
Switzerland; Hsiao-Chuan Hsia of Taiwan; Ms. Connie Bragas-Regalado of
Associate members that comprised NGOs and migrant-serving institutions also
selected among themselves two members who will sit as ex officio members to the
ICB – Ms. Wahu Kaara of Kenya Debt Relief Network and Mr. Ramon Bultron
of the Asia-Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM). Ms. Kaara vowed to
assist the IMA in its priority of expanding membership in the African
These seventeen members comprised the newly-constituted ICB of the IMA.
The ICB then elected among themselves officers of the executive committee.
Elected members of the executive committee were: Eni Lestari of AMCB-HK,
chairperson; Ufuk Berdan of ATIK-Europe, vice chairperson; Connie
Bragas-Regalado of Migrante-Philippines, secretary-general; Teresa Gutierrez of
the May 1stCoalition for Worker and Immigrant
Rights in USA, deputy
secretary-general, and; Tess Tesalona of Immigrant Workers Center in Canada,
Migrants on the march, onward we shall
The establishment of the IMA marked a historic chapter in the movement of
migrants and immigrants for rights and welfare and for comprehensive social
It was a timely effort of the migrants of the world to forge a stronger and
higher unity in the face of daunting problems and issues that worsen the
exploitation and oppression of the migrants.
Indeed it is now time to "speak for ourselves."
For we are the migrants forced to leave our countries and families. We are the
ones displaced by poverty, political persecution, war on terror, economic
hardships and other social ills perpetuated by imperialist globalization.
We are the grassroots migrants. With our solidarity, we shall speak and we
shall fight to gain more victories. #
IMA Founding Assembly Participating
Regular Members (70)*
Australia(6): Gabriela Australia, Greek Orthodox Community of New
South Wales, Immigrant Women's Speak Out Association-Australia, Migrante
Perth, Migrante Sydney Neighborhood – Inner West of Sydney,
Migrante-Melbourne. Austria (1): AYIGF-Federation of Workers
from Turkey in Austria. Bangladesh (2): Bangladeshi Ovibashi
Mohila Sramik Association, IMA Research Foundation. Canada
(6): Migrante Ontario, Pilipinong Migrante sa Canada, Pinay, South
Asian Women's Community Center, Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada,
Immigrant Workers Centre. Denmark (1): Ugnayan sa Radyo Pinoy.
Germany (3): ATIK-Confederation of Workers from Turkey in
Europe, ATIK-Yeni Kadin Woman Commission Germany, ATIF-Federation of Workers
from Turkey in Germany. Hong Kong (16): Abra Tinguian Ilocano
Society, Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia,
Association of Concerned Filipinos, Association of Sri Lankans, Cordillera
Alliance, Filipino Migrant Workers Union, Filipino Women Migrant Workers
Association, Friends of Bethune House, Mission Volunteers (MOVERS), PILAR,
Pinatud A Saleng Ti Umili, Thai Regional Alliance, United Filipinos in Hong
Kong, LIKHA, PIC Choir. Indonesia (1): SEKBER - Family of
Migrants. Italy (1): UMANGAT. Japan (4):
Filipina Circle for Advancement and Progress (FICAP), KAFIN, KAFIN-Tokyo
Akishima, Philippine Women's League of Japan. Korea (2):
KASAMMAKO, New Era Foundation. Macau (2): ATKI Macau, Migrante
Macau. Malaysia (2): Nepalese Labor Organization, TENAGANITA.
The Netherlands (2): HITIF-Federation of Workers from Turkey
in Holland, Migrante Europe. New Zealand (1): MIGRANTE-New
Zealand. Philippines (2): Migrante International, Coalition of
Agricultural Workers Internonational. Switzerland (1):
ITIF-Federation of Workers from Turkey in Switzerland. Taiwan
(3): Migrante – Taiwan, Trans-Asia Sisters Association of
Taiwan, Taiwan International Workers Association. United Kingdom
(3): Migrante UK, Tohum Cultural Center, YDG-Europe. United
Arab Emirates (1): Migrante UAE. United States of America
(10): Anakbayan Los Angeles, Anakbayan New York New Jersey, BAYAN-USA,
Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales, Habi Arts, Bayan USA, May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant
Rights, Movement of Action, Inspiring
Service (MAIZ), Philippine Forum, Migrante New York, Chelsea Uniting Against
Associate Members (32)
Australia (3): Australia Asia Workers Link, Philippine Australia
Solidarity Association, Work@Justice. Canada (5): CATTA,
Centre for People's Concerns (CAP-CPC), Movement Against Rape and Incest,
Philippines-Canada Solidarity for Human Rights, Women of Diverse Origins for
March 8. Hong Kong (6): Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants,
Asian Students Association, Bethune House Migrant Women's Refuge, ENGENDER
Hong Kong, Mission For Migrant Workers (HK) Society, St John's Cathedral
HIV Education Centre. Indonesia (1): Indies. India
(1): Sahanivasa. Japan (1): Filipino Migrants Center.
Kenya (1): Kenya Debt Relief Network. Malaysia
(2): CARAM – Asia, Pesticide Action Network – Asia
Pacific. Pakistan (1): Roots for Equity. Philippines
(7): Alliance of Health Workers, Center for Women's Resources,
GABRIELA, IBON, Institute of Political Economy (IPE), Solidarity and
People's Advocacy Network, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines.
Taiwan (2): Labor Rights Association, New Immigrants Labor
Rights Association. Thailand (1): Asia Pacific Forum on Women,
Law and Development. United States of America (1): Filipino
Community Center-San Francisco
Australia (2): Asian Women at Work, Researchers from the University of
Sydney. Canada (1): Vancouver Bus Riders Association.
Hong Kong (3): World Student Christian Federation Asia
Pacific, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Asian Monitor Resource
Centre. Indonesia (2): Partisan Foundation, Solidaritas
Perempuan. Japan (3): Asia Wide Campaign (AWC-Japan), Global
Collaboration Center, Japanese Filipino Children's Network. Korea
(1): Migrants Trade Union. New Zealand (1):
GATT-Watchdog. Philippines (1): Gabriela Women's Party.
Thailand (1): Global Alliance Against Trafficking of Women.
United States of America (1): Critical Filipino Studies
*Six organizations who were not present during the assembly but signified
their intent to join the IMA as regular members are: Japan (3)
– DUYAN, League of Filipino Seniors, Philippine Society in
Japan. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2): Kapatiran sa Gitnang
Silangan-Migrante Al Jouf, Migrante-Jeddah-KSA. Korea (1):
Migrant Workers Television South Korea (MWTV).
International Migrants Alliance
The first-ever global alliance of
grassroots associations, organizations, unions,
networks and alliances of migrant workers, immigrants, refugees and displaced
Founding Assembly - June 2008
Contact the IMA Secretariat at email@example.com
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