International Human Rights Day and Migrants Day
Advance the Fight for Rights!
Across the country and worldwide, the peoples organized demonstrations, meetings, vigils and a variety of other events to mark International Human Rights Day, December 10, and International Migrants Day, December 18. These included demonstrations across the U.S. denouncing the U.S.-backed massacre of more than 60 Filipinos and actions demanding an end to raids against immigrants and legalization for all. Everywhere the stand of the peoples is that their rights must be met, governments are responsible for doing so and that advancing the fight for rights is the path to security and actual realization of the human rights of all.
One feature that stood out in the U.S. and abroad is the growing opposition to U.S. imperialism as the backer and funder of brutal attacks on human rights and migrant rights. The footprint of the U.S. in funding, training and arming both the government and paramilitary forces responsible for the massacre in the Philippines is clear. As is the fact that the massacre was part of an election campaign, designed to literally obliterate the opposition. It included the killing of 29 journalists and many women and children.
So too the peoples denounced the fraudulent elections by the coup government in Honduras, a coup and elections funded and backed by the U.S. While the large majority of the world rejected these elections and condemned the violence and killings by the coup government, the U.S. recognized the elections and continues to fund and arm the coupists. And far from opposing violence and attacks on human rights, the U.S. is further occupying Colombia with more military bases for use in aggression inside Colombia and the entire region. It is striving to get troops inside Mexico and completely annex and impoverish the country while brutalizing the many people forced to come into the U.S. in search of work.
The criminal Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the continuing siege of Gaza stand out for their mass killings of civilians and brutality against the peoples, as well as causing massive numbers of refugees. The attacks against Pakistan, the genocide of the Cuba blockade, the brutal wall dividing Korea and occupation of the south, all these examples are among the worst of U.S. crimes. And the list is far from complete. Human and migrant rights are being blown to bits by the U.S., while it presents itself as the greatest defender of human rights.
Human Rights Day, December 10, is also the day that President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet when it came to addressing the state of human rights inside the U.S., he remained silent. He did not speak to the growing reality that the U.S. government is systematically organizing to deny basic rights to increasingly larger numbers of people — the rights to a livelihood, healthcare, housing, education, to live in peace and without the violence of poverty. Significantly, there was also silence on the brutal attacks on the rights of immigrants inside the U.S. The U.S. death wall and attacks on migrants crossing the border are responsible for at least 30,000 deaths over the years – far more, for example, than those killed at the Berlin Wall. Yet this killing of men, women and children and the on-going raids of whole communities, this was not a subject for discussion by the President, on human rights day or on migrants day.
Among other things, Obama did address what he termed the use of force on “humanitarian grounds,” in his Nobel speech. He said, “I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscious and can lead to more costly intervention later. That’s why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.” Obama also emphasized that, “More and more we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.” The words, standing in stark contrast to the actual facts on the ground in the Philippines, Honduras, Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza and elsewhere, where the U.S. is arming, funding and fomenting wars and violence, makes clear that defending human rights is not at all the U.S. agenda. On the contrary, the banner of human rights is being used to justify yet more U.S. crimes worldwide.
Obama here is also demanding that “all responsible nations must embrace” the dictate of the U.S. and its military interventions, or themselves be branded as “irresponsible.” He specifically threatens Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as the Congo, Sudan, Somalia and Zimbabwe. He said there must be consequences for those who “brutalize their own people,” and the U.S. would not stand idly by. In other words, wherever the U.S. president determines that “humanitarian” grounds exist, the U.S. is justified in using force and military might and everyone “must embrace” and even assist with this aggression. It is a dangerous path being pursued, a path of fascism and world war.
It is also significant that the role of the people in deciding their own affairs and charting a path forward is not part of the equation. Only when it serves U.S. plans for intervention, such as in Iran, are the “hundreds of thousands who marched” mentioned.
It is the peoples who are decisive when it comes to issues of war and peace. And behind the words of “human rights” and “preventing slaughter” the U.S. is targeting the determined resistance of the peoples and their efforts to advance the fight for rights. Their fight for alternatives that empower the people to decide are the target. This is clear in Obama’s applauding of the aggressive wars against Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan, while remaining silent about the Philippines, Honduras and Palestine. Resistance is branded as terrorism. The fight against intervention considered “irresponsible” refusal to embrace the role of the U.S. military. It is clear in the silence concerning U.S. terrorism against immigrants, its mass incarceration of African Americans, its unending genocide against native peoples. The fact that the U.S. government is guilty of “brutalizing their own people” is not to even be mentioned, let alone condemned and eliminated. Yet, the U.S. is to stand as guardian of what is and is not “humanitarian.”
Aggression and imperialist intervention do not serve peace, and cannot be justified. Advancing the fight for rights standing on the principle that aggression and occupations are crimes is the necessity. The stand of the peoples is that the consequences of the imperialist system led by the U.S. are not sustainable and are not acceptable. Obama’s effort to put a human face on U.S. crimes will not deter the peoples fighting for their rights. On the contrary, everywhere peoples are stepping up their fight and taking on the work to develop human-centered alternatives.
STOP the War on Raza and Stop the Wars in the Middle East! Demonstrate December 10, 2009 - On International Human Rights Day, December 10, Community-based organizations will hold a March and Candlelight Vigil to Denounce Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Raids and the Imperialist Wars in Iraq/Afghanistan as grave violations of Human Rights.
Imperialism is a Human Rights Violation!
On International Human Rights Day, Union del Barrio and numerous other grass-roots organizations covering diverse sectors, such as labor, students, teachers, community-based organizations and the general public will march from Olvera Street to the U.S. Federal Building to denounce Human Rights Violations committed by President Barack Obama’s administration and will demand full legalization for all migrants and immigrants.
The main objectives will be:
1) To denounce the Obama administration’s continued attacks on immigrants as well as the imperialist wars of aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan as grave violations of Human Rights.
2) To demand the immediate end of all ICE Raids and full legalization for all migrants and immigrants.
3) To demand the immediate end to the imperialist wars that President Obama continues to wage against the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The action has been endorsed by: Anti-Racist Action, The Southern California Immigration Coalition, Asians 4 Jericho/Mumia, Frente Contra las Redadas, Coalition for Community Control over the Police, School of the Americas Watch, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International, Guatemaltecos Buscando a los Genocidas, Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid -Southern California, Youth Justice Coalition/Free LA High School
For more information contact Union del Barrio at email@example.com or call us at 323-602-3480.
Following another challenging year, the National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights (NNIRR) invites you to close the year by organizing and supporting events to commemorate International Migrants Day, December 18, and by -reaffirming our commitment to the rights of all immigrants.
In recognition of the challenges ahead of us, NNIRR calls on organizations and individuals around the country to commemorate this year’s International Migrants Day with a local event or action highlighting the following:
Real immigration reform that recognizes and respects the dignity and human rights of immigrants, regardless of status.
An end to immigration policing, raids, detentions and deportations. In particular, we call for immediate moratorium of all immigration enforcement measures through July to help ensure a safe, equitable, and thorough 2010 Census.
Protection and redress for communities displaced by the effects of climate changes, and an immediate halt and reversal of the levels of carbon emissions.
We also renew our call for the United States to ratify the 1990 UN Convention on the Protection of Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
On December 18, 1990, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families was approved by the United Nations General Assembly, after almost a decade of governmental negotiations and demands from migrant rights advocates around the world. Following lobbying efforts by advocates and migrant groups including NNIRR, in December 2000 the United Nations proclaimed December 18 as International Migrants Day.
International Migrants Day 2009
2009 has been a challenging year in the struggle for immigrant rights, as heated debates around immigration reform coincided with ongoing attacks and abuses in immigrant communities.
In spite of a new Administration, we have continued to witness and experience the assault on the human rights of immigrants: families, workers and entire communities subjected to intense policing, hundreds of thousands detained, and due process rights blatantly violated and ignored. NNIRR’s recently-released human rights report, “Guilty by Immigration Status,” documents how inter-agency and local police collaboration around immigration law enforcement, especially through the “287g” agreements and the Secure Communities Program, have undermined community safety and made immigrants even more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
The global economic crisis further burdened already vulnerable immigrant communities around the world, and those in the U.S. were no exception. For the first time in decades, immigrants were forced to reduce their remittances to their families abroad, who themselves faced increasing hardships as most countries in the Global South were not immune to the crippling effects of the crisis. Many immigrants also became scapegoats, as xenophobic rhetoric blamed immigrants while hiding failed economic policies. Many ruthless employers also used the crisis to further exploit their immigrant workers.
As this year’s International Migrants Day also falls during the pinnacle of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN Climate Summit) in Copenhagen, we also recognize the estimated 25 million people around the world who have suffered from forced displacement from their homelands and communities due to the devastating effects of climate change, more than those displaced by war. This number is expected to go up to 250 million in less than 50 years. “As one of the world’s top polluters, the U.S. is obligated to respond to this crisis and offer protection to the millions of climate refugees who have lost their homelands and communities directly due to U.S. policies and corporate practices,” said Catherine Tactaquin, NNIRR’s Executive Director.
Also on December 18 this year, NNIRR will be part of an international coalition that will launch of a year-long international campaign to ratify the Migrant Workers Convention, to culminate on the 20th Anniversary of the adoption of the campaign on December 18, 2010.
We encourage activities and messages that challenge the Administration and Congress to implement humanitarian policies and practices – to decriminalize immigration status and protect the rights of all workers. We must continue to demand a fair and just immigration policy that is “de-linked” from national security, and which includes the demilitarization of our borders.
Especially on International Migrants Day, when we recognize and honor migrants throughout the world, we need to raise awareness about the need for policies that ameliorate involuntary displacement and forced migration, including climate justice, fair trade and sustainable community development, and fulfilling the need and access to healthcare, education, housing, jobs and safe, healthy environments.
To spotlight these urgent petitions, NNIRR encourages you and your community to organize a local event on or around December 18, 2009. Coming at the year’s end, these events can also serve to bring together your constituents, communities and allies for a moment of reflection, celebration, and/or protest - and to recommit to the challenges and opportunities we will have to fight for the human rights of all immigrants in the coming year.
For more information, contact: Colin Rajah, NNIRR • 510-465-1984 x306 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Nationwide Activities in Recognition of International Migrants Day
December 18: Interfaith Prayer Vigil and Townhall Meeting on Comprehensive Immigration Reform
December 18: Youth hunger strike and “Trail of Dreams” walk from Florida to DC.
December 18: March and vigil for Haitian community
New York City
December 11: Human rights celebration and “Solidarity with Honduras”
Partial listing; For international events and additional listings visit www.migrantwatch.org and www.december18.net.