Monday, 8 August 2011

Fear discrimination, not foreign domestic workers

Asian migrants urge gov’t to uphold rights of foreign maids

Press Release 07 August 2011

“If the people of Hong Kong should fear something, it should be exclusion, discrimination and anti-migrant ideas – not foreign domestic workers (FDWs) and our rights.”

This was declared today by Eni Lestari, spokesperson of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body in a press conference to declare the group’s position on the bid of FDWs to challenge the denial of the Right of Abode to FDWs who have been in HK for seven or more years.

“The core issue here is about the right of FDWs against discrimination. If qualified FDWs wish to apply for right of abode, they should be allowed to do so as the Basic Law does not exclude FDWs and international agreements that are used as standards for human rights also guard against discrimination. Human rights should be upheld and never feared,” Lestari added.

Lestari hit politicians and the HK government who have been “dishing out lies and doomsday scenarios” if FDWs are allowed permanent residency. The HK government even threatened to put a cap on the number of consecutive contracts an FDW can have to three to prevent them from staying in HK for seven years.

“Instead of thinking of ways to uphold the rights of migrants, the Hong Kong government is choosing more regressive measures that have been criticized in other countries already. For the HK government, it is better to sow an atmosphere of fear and discrimination rather than create a condition to prevent discrimination,” she added.

Lestari that the projection of a flood of applicants and FDWs bringing in their families is “grossly exaggerated” and creates phantom fears among the Hong Kong people.

Moreover, Lestari said that the image pictured by anti-migrant politicians and government officials of FDWs as parasites is “contemptuous and dangerous.”

“The same anti-migrant ideas breed hate crimes against migrants and immigrants. The same picture painted by these narrow-minded politicians is the reason why we have tragedies such as the recent killings in Norway. Is this the kind of thinking that we should allow to rule in Hong Kong?” Lestari challenged.

Lestari said that discrimination against FDWs is institutionalized in Hong Kong. Citing the New Conditions of Stay, the ban on Nepali migrants and the denial of the right of abode to FDWs, Lestari said that discriminatory ideas and actions in the HK society are fed by the policies that put FDWs in a position vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and discrimination.

“We commend groups and individuals in Hong Kong who recognize the rights of FDWs and help create public awareness on human rights. We appreciate those who recognize the fact that FDWs are integral and productive members of the HK society. We hope that more people will resist the spread of anti-migrant and discriminatory ideas and help build an HK society that is genuinely multicultural and respects the rights of all people,” she remarked.

Lestari announced that AMCB will continuously monitor the issue of Right of Abode for FDWs and make sure that the comprehensive rights of FDWs are upheld.

For reference: Eni Lestari Spokesperson, Tel. No.: 96081475

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