Asia-pacific youth leaders hold rally in Manila
Call for genuine development and end to forced migration in region
October 27, 2008
Students and youth from various countries in the Asia-Pacific region held a protest rally in Manila today, a few days before the opening of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) on October 29.
The protest is the culmination of the 17th General Conference of the Asia-Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA), held in Manila from October 24-27, which gathered over 50 delegates from various nations in the Asia-Pacific region to unite on various issues that affect the youth, especially education and employment.
A major resolution of the conference is the call for an end to “forced migration and lack of real development in the Asia-Pacific region” due to “flawed policies onerously serving US interests and interests of big nations at the expense of the majority of the peoples.”
“It is alarming to see our governments promote forced migration as desperate alternatives to developments, serving the demands of developed nations for cheap labor instead of our countries’ needs for development,” said Rey Asis, re-elected secretariat member of the Asia-Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA).
The protesters carried giant balikbayan boxes painted with the words “we are not for sale!” to symbolize their opposition to “forced mirgation and labor export policy” of various governments as they marched towards the embassy of the United States of America.
The protesters blamed the US and other developed nations as the culprit behind the labor export policy, who “benefit by exploiting our people, thereby hampering the development of our countries,” said Asis.
Youth leaders from Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan, Syria, and dozens of other nations believe that the GFDM will only worsen third world poverty and will push further the poor peoples of Asia-Pacific and the world to desperation and slavery.
“Instead of promoting national development by promoting jobs in our countries, our governments would rather push us to leave our countries after we graduate. The GFMD aims to intensify these anti-people policies instead of promoting migrant rights as the Arroyo government purports,” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of the League of Filipino Students, a member organization of the ASA.
The international delegates also expressed their support to the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR), a counterpart of the GFMD led by grassroots migrant groups, which is also being held in Manila.
“It is in the IAMR that the real voices of migrants will be heard. We know that it is the intention of our government to sell us and our labor power to developed countries, not protect us, in the GFMD,” said Crisostomo. ###