Communiqué of the Interfaith Mission for Solidarity and Service with Migrants, Refugees and Uprooted People

Communiqué of the Interfaith Mission for Solidarity and Service with Migrants, Refugees and Uprooted People

Grha Oikumene, Jakarta, Indonesia
12-14 September 2018

“… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”(Matthew 25: 34-36)

”Whoever saves one life, saves all of humanity” (Al Quran 5:32)

“The ignorant work for their own profit, Arjuna; the wise work for the welfare of the world, without thought for themselves.” (Bhagavad Gita)

1. Fifty-two church leaders and workers, representatives of other faiths, migrants and their families, service providers and advocates, lawyers, women, and youth from 35 organizations, churches and institutions from Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Thailand came together to further strengthen our unity and cooperation as we address the problem of human trafficking during the Interfaith Mission for Solidarity and Service with Migrants, Refugees and Uprooted People jointly organized by the Persekutuan Gereja-gereja di Indonesia, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Kabar Bumi, Migrante International and Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 12-14, 2018.

2. This interfaith mission – with a conference, a public dialogue with government officials, and a visit to Mary Jane Veloso in Yogyakarta as its major components – continues and builds on a strong unity established among faith institutions, grassroots migrant organizations and advocacy groups during the Asia Consultation on Human Trafficking and Forced Migration: A Call to Decent Labour and Living Wage co-organized by the Christian Conference of Asia, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Myanmar Council of Churches and the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants in Yangon, Myanmar last October 9-11, 2017.

3. During the conference component of the Mission, for one and a half days, we shared our organizational and personal insights and reflections on trafficking of peoples, the plight of the victims and their families, and the challenges posed upon us not only in providing support and assistance to those in need but also in combatting human trafficking.

4.We condemned the systematic and structural exploitation of migrants. Human trafficking has become more pervasive and has taken many forms: sex trafficking, child and infant trafficking, education trafficking, and labor trafficking. We also confirmed the primary responsibility of the State, and the accountability of all other actors, including the private sector, in addressing this growing problem. In our discussions, we shared our triumphs and setbacks, reflected on our strengths and weaknesses, identified existing infrastructures and the gaps as we work towards a world without human trafficking, exploitation, or forced migration.

5. Through the workshops, we became more aware of the array of services in the region made available to migrants, refugees and uprooted people – orientation and awareness, rescue, shelter, legal counseling and assistance, repatriation, reunification and advocacy. Many of us join them in their struggle as well as provide solace to families who have lost their loved ones overseas. We underscored the importance of collaboration and coordination – as the problems of trafficking, exploitation and forced migration go beyond borders, so should our unity and cooperation. In all this work, we put value in the empowerment of migrants, refugees, uprooted people and their families. They bear the right to speak for themselves and the power to change the situation they are in. We do not only work for them, we work with them.

6. We drew inspiration from the victories of our collaboration and cooperation to help our migrant sisters and brothers in need – Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, who is now a migrant rights’ champion and advocate herself, Mary Jane Veloso, who continues to struggle for justice and freedom to this day, Violeta Agsaway, who is finally reunited with her family after 20 years of being an undocumented migrant, and many others who have become victors, survivors and leaders.

7. Moving forward, we commit to enhancing and strengthening an infrastructure of welcome and solidarity. We build on this infrastructure by combining acts of mercy and hospitality and acts of solidarity and justice. We aim toward expanding a system of referral, ascertaining gaps and working ways to amend them. We commit to digging deep into the intricacies of the problem of trafficking, documenting cases, studying existing laws and policies, advocating for government action and response, and monitoring every effort from all actors, including ourselves. From conferences to joint researches, from mapping existing systems of support to developing a directory made available in print as well as online, from networking with peoples’ lawyers and reaching out to more friends of migrants, we work towards improving our service provision, advocacy and coordination in all levels, from national to regional then to international. We will reinforce our networking and strengthen our cooperation through platforms like the Interfaith Network for the Rights of Migrants (INFORM) and Churches Witnessing With Migrants (CWWM).

8. The faith-based organizations present here have taken the challenge of raising their voices and maximizing their resources for the care, support and empowerment of migrants, refugees and uprooted people. Working with service providers, advocates and most importantly the grassroots organizations of migrants, we have reached out to victims of trafficking, exploited migrants and those at risk of exploitation and abuse while working at levels commensurate with the global nature of the challenges we confront. Together, we look forward to a stronger regional and interfaith cooperation where a system of service, support and solidarity responds not only to the victims of human trafficking but works toward the elimination of the problem of human trafficking.

9. In this conference, we strengthen our resolve to claim justice and freedom for Mary Jane Veloso as an immediate coordinated campaign. We cannot be completely victorious until she is free and have been reunited with her family. We hope that the eventual success of the campaign to save Mary Jane through united action will be a precedent for future similar cases.

10. Let our solidarity and service go beyond color, race, age, creed and faith. By accompanying migrants, refugees and uprooted people and their families in upholding their human dignity, their rights and welfare, we commit ourselves to journeying with them towards an abundant life for all.

11. Let us envision a world where human rights and dignity are upheld at all times, the government and other actors are accountable, and migration is a choice for all.

Call for Support - Free Mary Jane Veloso! Justice for All Victims of Human Trafficking! →

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Michelle Lado

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