DEFEND Migrant and Refugee Rights! END Criminalization, Racism and Marginalization!

SPEAK OUT STREET EVENT!
DEFEND Migrant and Refugee Rights!
END Criminalization, Racism and Marginalization!
ADDRESS the Root Causes of Migration!
28 June 2017, Berlin, Germany

This year, the 10th Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) takes place in Germany amid an escalating global crisis of people fleeing from wars and conflicts, political and religious, gender, racial and other forms of persecution, climate change impacts and economic hardships brought about by neo-­liberal policies that have impoverished countries of origin of migrants and refugees.

The event will be hosted from 28-­29 June 2017 by Germany, a country that in recent years has seen an unprecedented influx of migrants and refugees determined to find safety, security and a better life, crossing their borders and asserting their fundamental right to freedom of movement.

GFMD’s overarching theme, “Towards a Global Social Contract on Migration and Development,” aims to ‘address and balance the welfare and interests between migrants and their countries of origin, transit states and destinations, ensure their safe and regular passage, while also addressing the ‘push factor issues’ in their countries of origin.’ The conference is taking place amidst a global migration and refugee crisis that has witnessed the flight of millions of people fleeing extreme poverty, from countries destroyed by resource wars and wars of aggression, and devastated by climate change impacts.

The unprecedented number of refugees entering Europe since 2014 stems from the widespread armed conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Libya, sub-­Saharan Africa and other nations, and the implementation of neo-­liberal policies that has mired many developing countries in deepening poverty, indebtedness, and underdevelopment. In 2015, the number of refugees entering Europe via Italy and Greece hit its peak, reaching over a million people, according to the UNCHR. But even before the so-­called refugee crisis peaked in 2015, there are already about 12 million people living in Europe as undocumented migrants facing their own particular challenges and problems. (International Migrant Alliance (IMA))

Under the guise of creating “legal, orderly and safe migration pathways and channels”, discriminatory and racist policies of pre-­selection allow only ‘highly-­skilled and knowledge migrants’ to access and enter the territories of European Union member states. This right is denied to majority of those who are the most impoverished and who seek a better life, or those who are victims of various forms of persecution.

This policy also effectively discriminates and criminalizes the majority of migrants and refugees who have already entered and established their right of abode in the European Union. A case in point is Germany’s schizophrenic policy that received close to a million migrants and asylum-seekers in 2015 at the same time as it prepared to deport over 200,000 ‘irregular’ migrants, mong them, the undocumented, the ‘economic migrants’ and rejected asylum-­‐seekers. Those profiled as ‘irregulars’ face arrest, detention and massive deportation.

The response of governments and the policies of receiving countries has mainly been to securitize migration by intensifying crackdowns, closing off borders and criminalizing especially the most vulnerable sectors among migrants and refugees. Their right to freedom of movement, to seek refuge and sanctuary, to find and enjoy a more humane existence and other attendant rights are coming under severe attack.

The establishment of Frontex in 2004 and the implementation of the EU Return Directive in 2008 have been the punitive and inhumane response of most governments to the problem. And in light of the burgeoning economic crisis of European Union countries and drastic austerity measures that profoundly impact on access and delivery of social services to the local population, nationalist and right-­wing government policies have adopted anti-­immigration rhetoric that scapegoats migrants and refugees for the crisis of neo-­liberal globalization. This has resulted in the further disenfranchisement and marginalization of migrants and refugees, already profiled as second-­class citizens.

The multi-­level and supposed inclusive nature of the strategies promoted by the GFMD is illusory at best and deceptive at its worse, given its lack of attention to structural and long-­term solutions that decisively address the underlying and causative problems in international migration – the forced dispersal, displacement and dislocation of human beings and their communities – forced migration.

Unless the fundamental root causes and consequent problems of forced migration are recognized and addressed, the United Nation’s “Global Compact on Migration and Human Rights” proposing an enhanced global migration policy, will remain a ‘band-­aid’ solution to the urgency and gravity of confronting the multiple crises of a global economic and political system run amok that puts the interest of big business and profit first over the sustainability of the planet and the preservation and propagation of the human race.

SPEAK OUT STREET EVENT!

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA), in cooperation with the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), GABRIELA Germany, IBON International, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, the International Women’s Alliance, MIGRANTE Europe, and supported by local groups, unions and associations in Germany and other parts of Europe, will hold the SPEAK OUT STREET EVENT as an activity of the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR7).

The SPEAK OUT STREET EVENT will be held on the morning of 28 June 2017, the official opening day of the GFMD conference that will be attended by high-­level and senior government policy makers. The activity will send a strong message to them regarding the continued marginalization of frontline peoples and communities affected by forced migration and human trafficking.

On this day, migrant and refugee communities will claim their space and assert their right to be seen and heard. It is important to give space to the voices that challenge the legitimacy and capacity of the GFMD to effectively address the problems and respond adequately to the challenges of migration and development. These grassroots and frontline communities will share their perspectives and solutions to the problems confronting them and engage
with policy-­makers in the parliament of the streets, bearing witness to their effective exclusion from decision-­making processes that affect them principally but which take place behind closed doors.

The activity will –

  1. Expose the neo-liberalist migration agenda of the European Union and the United Nations’ complicity in implementing it.
  2. Unite migrant and refugee organizations to further develop their organizing capacity, strengthen their cooperation, and build their movements of grassroots and frontline communities to fight the antimigrant and refugee attacks of neo-liberalist policies on their fundamental rights and freedoms.
  3. Establish and strengthen the solidarity among migrant and refugee organizations and their allies and 3 advocates and create possible opportunities for cooperation among them through common campaigns, activities and actions.
  4. Highlight the issues and problems confronted by migrants and refugees in Germany and other parts of Europe, as well as their demands for government action and response against their criminalization and to put an end to the punitive measures being taken against them which include massive arrests, detention and deportation.

The event’s program will feature a speakers’ list composed of representatives from local and international migrant and refugee communities, their allies and advocates coming from the churches, trade unions, solidarity organizations, academe, the media, women and youth organizations, political parties and politicians, development and other civil society organizations.

Cultural performances (poetry reading, songs, street theater, chanting) will also feature in the program and will highlight the aspirations of migrant and refugee communities and the solidarity of allies and advocates from among the nationals of receiving countries.

Information materials will be disseminated to GFMD participants in order to popularize the position of frontline and grassroots migrant and refugee communities and energize advocacy and lobby initiatives among official and civil society stakeholders.

Finally, a unity statement will be read out and a ritual of commitment will express the resolve of frontline grassroots communities of migrants and refugees and their solidarity allies and advocates to address root causes and effect genuine change that will truly benefit their lives and that of their families, whether in their countries of origin or destination.

Issues:

  • The impacts of neoliberal globalization policies on the plight and eventual criminalization (massive arrests, detention and deportation) of migrants, refugees and their families.
  • Resource wars, wars of aggression, climate change impacts and the resultant migration and refugee crisis and the rise of racism and xenophobia in the world.
  • Critique of the UN’s Global Compact on Migration and Human Rights and related GFMD documents and its impacts on migrants and their families.
  • Critique of current German policy on migration and refugees, related problems and alternatives.

Calls:

  • DEFEND & END Impunity of Attacks against Migrant and Refugee Rights!
  • END Criminalization, Racism and Marginalization of Migrants and Refugees!
  • ADDRESS the Root Causes of Migration!
  • EXPOSE neo-liberal globalization’s anti-migrant and anti-refugee agenda in the European Union and in the United Nation’s migration and development agenda!
  • PROMOTE migrant, refugee and frontline communities’ genuine solutions to the migration and development debacle!

Organizing Committee:

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), GABRIELA Germany, IBON International, International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), International Migrant Alliance (IMA), International Women’s Alliance (IWA), MIGRANTE-Europe.