International Migrants’ Tribunal: Miss Saigon vs. the GFMD


“GUILTY as charged”: This was the – not completely surprising  – verdict spoken today in the “Internation Migrants’ Tribunal on the GFMD”. In a parallel event to the World Social Forum on Migration (WSFM), five “judges”, among them the renowned Philippine Artist and former “Miss Saigon” in the London West End production Monique Wilson (pictured), listened to testimonies that held the GFMD responsible on three charges, namely:

1. Violations of the Complainants’ (i.e. the migrants) human rights.Ath the pretext of protecting Complainants’ human rights, the Defendants (i.e. the GFMD) prescribe Migration policies in furtherance of their neoliberal Agenda of commodification of labour and modern-day slavery.

2. Criminal neglect of Complainants’ economic rights and violation of  their political, economic, social and cultural rights by the Sending States.

3. Violation of  the Complainants’ political, economic, social and cultural rights by the Receiving States.

Needless to say that the Tribunal held at the Diliman Campud of the University of the Philippines (UP) was a staged event, but the organisers – militant Groups from the Philippines and their global alliances – went fully through with the premise including the call “All rise!” when the judges entered the “Courtroom”. Besides Wilson, these judges were the Indonesian Bishop Soritua Nababan, the dean of the College of Mass Communications at the UP Roland Tolentino, the director of the Mexican Foundation for justice and Rule of Law, Ana Lorena Delgadillo and Osamu Niikura from Japan, secretary General of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

The Tribunal heard three expert witnesses: Dr. Irene Fernandez ,a renowned Malaysian activist, Antonio Zujan, Jr from the Research Institute IBON International, andJose Jacques Medina,  a Mexican activist and former undocumented Migrant to the USA. His presentation on the plight of transit migrants in Mexico who face numerous abuses up to death and disappearance was especially touching.

Six witnesses provided further Background Information on issues like Migrant domestic workers, female migrants, seafarers etc. Rex Osa Aghedo, a Nigerian Refugee from the VOICE Refugee Forum Germany, Caravan  for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants, condemned in very sharp words the German asylum policies. While I agree with many Points he raised and I understand that you have to be loud to be heard, I found his extreme accusations (refugees in Germany hve no access to healthcare or education, only received expired Food etc. – this is not completely wrong, but not completely right either) somewhat counterproductive – German asylum policy is bad as it is, why the need to further exaggerate it?

Of course, subtlety is not what this Tribunal was about, and I think it is legitimate to Counter the dominant top-down discourse on Migration and development, circular and managed Migration with a sharp message from the ground up. Besides the “usual suspects” which I (gladly!) Keep Meeting at the events organised by these militant organisations, several participants from the WSFM stopped by as well –  so,who knows,  maybe this could mark the beginning of some form of dialogue between the various activist Groups?

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About Stefan Rother

Lecturer and Researcher at the Department of Political Science, University of Freiburg -- Freelance journalist -- You can find my CV at the links below:
This entry was posted in Gfmd, GFMD Civil Society Days, GFMD Government Meeting, IAMR, Migration and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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