February 2, 2011

World Assembly of Migrants

Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Goree Island, Senegal 

Posted by Gerald Lenoir, Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Nunu Kidane of Priority Africa Network, Colin Rajah of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and I traveled from Oakland, California to Dakar Senegal to attend the World Assembly of Migrants (WAM) on Goree Island and the World Social Forum (WSF) at the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar.

A statue of freed slaves on
Goree Island donated by the
government of Guadeloupe.
Today, we took the 20-minute ferry ride to the infamous Goree Island where enslaved Africans were imprisoned, brutalized, led shackled through the "Door of No Return" and shipped en masse to the New World.  We were there to attend the opening session of the World Assembly of Migrants.  The Assembly was initiated by a migrant rights organization in France, Sans Papier (Without Papers) to provide the opportunity for migrants from all over the world to give input into the draft of the World Charter of Migrants.  The opening session, attended by over 100 migrants, started with a panel that included the Mayor of Goree Island, a representative from WAM and a member of the leadership of the WSF leadership group.

The Mayor reminded us that the event was taking place on the spot where the first brutal forced migration of Africans took place.  The WSF representative spoke about the importance of migrant rights as a central theme of the Social Forum scheduled to take place February 6-11.

Migrants from all over the world listen
to the opening panel presentations at
the World Assembly of Migrants.
The WAM speaker spoke to the need of the rights of migrant to be recognized.  The draft charter, he said, builds upon the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Indigenous People.  As an Austrian, he talked about the "wave of xenophobia sweeping across Europe."  He indicated that process of input into the charter will make sure that it's ratified by the people and that it is a people's document.  The aim is to get the charter ratified by United Nations.

The 2-page draft charter reads, in part:

"We Migrants declare to the world that:  MIGRATION WILL BE A FREE AND WORTHY CHOICE FOR ALL AND IN EVERY CORNER OF THE PLANET..." (emphasis in the original document)

"...We are entitled to the same rights, recognized under exactly the same conditions as everyone else.
Denying this basic principle is a serious blow to humanity, a negation of Humanity. Laws, regulations and practices that do not respect this principle will disappear over time, a ghostly memory of less humanitarian times in the past.
Unequal access to development and well-being within countries and between countries can and should be avoided and are in fact a crime against Humanity. We must prevail over such disparities."

(To read the entire draft of the World charter of Migrants, go to www.cmmigrants.org

Tomorrow, the day will be spent pouring over the draft document.  There will opportunities for the migrants assembled to give their input.  By the end of the day, the charter will be adopted by those assembled.  On Friday, migrants, along with their allies, will consider the future of the charter.  for many, the future for migrants is depending upon migrants themselves articulating their rights and, together with their allies, fighting for them.

My colleagues and I will continue to blog from the WAM and the WSF until February 11.  For photos of today and throughout the week, go to Priority Africa Network's D2D - World Social Forum web page at http://d2dworldsocialforumdakar2011.blogspot.com/ 

1 comment:

  1. Another interesting fact was that the female inmates were able to have their children with them in the prison up to 5 years of age.
    no 1 migration specialist