Monday, 13 December 2010

International Migrants Day 2010

Saturday the 18th of December is the UN International Migrants Day. On that day in 1990, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families was adopted (resolution 45/158). 

Stop All Forms of Human Rights Violations Against Indonesian Migrant Workers (IMWs) & Our Families! Provide Genuine Service and Protection for IMWs in Hong Kong!

The Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong (ATKI-HK) unites with all Indonesian Migrant Workers (IMWs), NGOs and advocates in Indonesia and other destination countries to demand that the Indonesian government stops all forms of human rights abuses against IMWs and our families. ATKI-HK also urges the Indonesian government to stop neglecting IMWs overseas and to provide genuine protection for all IMWs immediately.

This neglect has impacted negatively on the lives of millions of IMWs overseas and our families in Indonesia. In the Middle East, hundreds of thousands are trapped in slave-like working conditions; hundreds are on deathrow, while others have died mysteriously or due to accidents; IMWs are used as sex slaves and are victims of serious abuses and other violations.

In Malaysia, despite the similiarities in language, culture and religion, many IMWs experience physical and sexual abuses, they are unpaid and have no rest days. They are controlled fully by private agencies and are bound by the anti-migrant policies of the Malaysian Government resulting in many who are forced to be undocumented. In Taiwan, hundreds are imprisoned as they attempt to escape from abusive employers and to avoid the mandatory high placement fees of 15-21 months of salary deductions.

In Hong Kong, where the number of IMWs has increased to 140,000 and currently constitutes the biggest migrant population, we shoulder the impact of the Indonesian government’s lack of concern for IMWs. This attitude is exemplified in their actions, such as:
§  Legalization of HK$21,000, an extremely high placement fee, charged through 5-7 months deduction of IMWs’ salaries. Despite a new policy issued in 2004 lowering the fees to HK$9,000 and another policy in 2008 lowering the fees further to HK$15,000, there has been no implementation. Worse, IMWs who fail to pay their fees are harassed and their families in Indonesia are terrorized to pay the fees. Some IMW who dared to lodge reports at the Indonesian Consulate, found that their cases were left unattended.

§  Forcing all IMWs to go through recruitment agency by banning direct hiring resulting in many IMWs, who have already been overseas for years, continuing to be victimized by high fees. Despite the HK Government’s regulation of commission 10% of first month salary only, most IMWs paid between HK$1,500 - HK$15,000.

§  Allowing recruitment agencies to confiscate our passports and employment contracts.

§  Forcing returned migrants to go to a Special Terminal for IMWs where they are exploited further.

In 2010, ATKI-HK received 1.462 complaints of cases mostly of outright termination, underpayment and non-payment of wages, illegal salary deductions, confiscation of passports and employment contracts by HK-Agency, overcharging and overstaying.

Ironically, each time that IMWs complained to Indonesia Consulate in Hong Kong, instead of receiving help, they are dealt with cynically or are openly rejected and sent back to their agencies. They can receive no assistance unless they have the contact of private organizations where they can get help. The situation faced by Kikin who was murdered by her employer and dumped in the rubbish bin, and Sumiati whose upper lip was cut off by her employer could have been avoided if they had know of their rights and where to get help. Access to information and assistance is possible for IMWs if the Indonesian Government is sincere about serving and protecting their own people.


The Indonesian Government has violated the rights of IMWs as Indonesian citizens. They have failed to provide decent jobs for their own people back home, where poverty is prevalent with high levels of unemployment. They further exploit their people by exporting them abroad without ensuring IMWs’ rights, safety and welfare. Without shame, the government passed its responsibility for protecting IMWs to private recruitment agencies and continue enslaving IMWs. This system of labour export has been legalized under Law No. 39 on Deployment and Protection for Indonesian Overseas Workers and the government refuses to ratify the UN Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Their Families. To address these violations, the Indonesian government must change their treatment of IMWs, like commodities for export. IMWs are first and foremost Indonesians who bear the rights of citizenship. The job of the Indonesian government is to uphold the rights of all IMWs.

ATKI-HK is calling the Indonesian Government to fulfill the following demands to ensure the protection of IMWs in Hong Kong:
1.     Stop forcing IMWs to use recruitment agencies!
2.     Direct hiring for all IMWs!
3.     Lower placement fees! Enforce 10% of one-month’s salary as commission for HK-based agencies!
4.     Repeal UUPPTKILN. No. 39!
5.     Ratify UN Convention on the Protection for Migrant Workers and Their Families!
6.     Approve Law of Domestic Workers in Indonesia!

Press Statement
10 December 2010
Eni Lestari, Chairperson (852-96081475)
Karsiwen, Vice Chairperson (852-91405357)

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Sumiyati and the Clinking of Remittances

Wahyu Susilo, policy analyst for Migrant Care and Program Manager at INFID
 Friday, 19 November 2010 | 05:05 WIB

The horrific abuse suffered by Sumiyati, a migrant worker from Dompu, West Nusa Tenggara – her lips cut off by scissors by her employer in Saudi Arabia — is the umpteenth time that such ill-treatment has befallen Indonesian women working in foreign countries.

In the next couple of days but in less than a week, we will be bombarded with expressions of deep concern from public officials and promises to resolve the case. In weeks ahead, these promises will simply fade away until we are once again distressed over the next incident of abuse and torture.There are too many cases of ill-treatment and murder against Indonesian migrant workers to recall, most of which remains unresolved to this day. The President, Minister of Manpower and Transmigration and Minister of Foreign Affairs may fail to remember the ordeal of Ceriyati, Kurniasih, Siti Hajar, Siti Tarwiyah, Susmiyati, Sariah, Winfaida, and dozens of other names who were promised that their case would be brought to justice. Read more 

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The last to know

Farah Naqvi, Hindustan Times
November 23, 2010
Laws in India are made by stealth, under cover of darkness. The Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill, 2010, made news recently when the Cabinet cleared it. It's now apparently waiting in the wings to enter Parliament. Media reports state that domestic workers aren't covered by the Bill.
Read more

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Singapore Cracks Down On Employment Agencies!

16 November 2010 MOM Revokes Licences of 15 Employment Agencies - see the full story at 
UFDWR asks - what happens to the migrant domestic workers  hired by these employment agencies?

Migrants from around the world blocked from approaching the site of GFMD

Eni Lestari from IMA at the IAMR3

[PUERTO VALLARTA] On 10 November 2010, over 500 demonstrators from the The Peoples’ Caravan Against the Global Forum on Migration Development (GFMD) were met by police, clad with riot gear.  The rally against the GFMD consisted of international delegates of the Third International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR3), the Madres de los desaparecidos [mothers of the disappeared] from Honduras, the ex-braceros representing 24 states of Mexico, the indigenous peoples of Michoacan, and students from Tamaulipas, the site of the massacare of 72 migrant workers earlier this year.  The Caravan spent the last two days traveling from Mexico City and Guadalajara to accurately voice the concerns of migrant workers across the globe. 

Fr. Luis Angel Nieto of Comite Promotor de Mexico said, “No pueden hacer un foro de migrantes, sin migrantes.   Somos de todas partes de Mexico, unidos con migrantes del mundo. Nos representamos la voz actual de migrantes y decimos no al FMMD.” [They cannot have a forum on migrants without migrants.  We have come from all parts of Mexico, joined by migrants from around the world. We represent the true voice of migrants and we say no to GFMD.]  Many of the demonstrators belonged to international movements that address labor issues and the lack of protections for migrants from developing nations.

 The Puerto Vallarta police blocked off major roads to contain the protest shortly after the march was initiated.  “Every year we protest the GFMD and ever year this is what the states do,” said chairperson of the International Migrants Alliance, Eni Lestari, at the police blockade.  “While they discuss how to exploit us, they silence us and they shut us out.  We say to them: as long as the GFMD exists we will come back year after year to continue our fight for migrant rights.” 

Julia Camagong of Philippine Forum (New York, USA) said, "The GFMD is illegitimate. It does not protect the rights and welfare of the migrants and refugees. It does not speak for migrants and only reflects the interests of the corporations and neoliberal policies that further exploit and oppress the migrants of the world. It should therefore be dismantled.”

For the last four years, the GFMD has used the guise of “development” to usurp the actual needs of migrants in favor of transnational trade agreements.  Much of the structural improvements put forth by the GFMD focus on remittance models, instead of creating sustainable employment opportunities within the given host nations. 

Camagong said, “It is the IAMR3 that is the true voice of the migrants workers. We saw this clearly in the eyes of the international delegates who attended the assembly in Mexico City; the ex-braceros in Guadalajara; the families from the provinces of Michoacan, Oaxaca, and Zacatecas; the Honduran mothers of the disappeared; and the students from Tamaulipas, all of whom united in the streets of Puerto Vallarto to oppose the GFMD.”

This mobilization was the conclusion of the Third International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR3), which took place from November 6 – 10. The assembly and caravan operated with no budget, but was made possible by the broad grassroots support of migrant organizations throughout Mexico and all over the world. 


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