Defend the Rights of All
A Day of Global Action Against Racism and for the Rights of Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People
The World Social Forum held in Dakar, Senegal in February 2011, according to the proposals approved at the Quito’s World Social Forum on Migration 2010, as well as those of the Dakar World Social Forum meetings and those included in the Chart of Migrants signed in Gorée, Senegal:
A global day of action on December 18, 2011 against racism, for the rights, equality and dignity of migrants, refugees and displaced people
The ratification and implementation of The United Nation Convention for the Rights of Migrant workers and the members of their families, the freedom of movement and the right to stay, the closure of migrant detention centers and the revocation of all the agreements and programs concerning states’ borders which offend human rights.
The negative consequences of neo-colonial and neo-liberal policies.
The fundamental role of migrants as political and social actors to build a universal citizenship system.
During the World Social Forum in Dakar, 2011, the proposal presented at the World Social Forum on Migrations in Quito, 2010, was ratified. The proposal was to carry out a worldwide December 18 Global Day of Action Against Racism and for the Rights of Refugees, Migrants and Displaced People.
Many organizations in different countries are already working toward it. Each country, region, city is deciding autonomously what type of event they will hold: it could be a rally to demand legalization for millions of undocumented people around the world; an event to remember the thousands who have died at the borders or in the struggle to defend their rights; a conference about freedom of circulation around the world; or simply an anti-racist party.
We know it is difficult to coordinate events internationally, but now more than ever we are convinced that the situation demands it. States, economic powers and political structures, disconnected with the daily lives of men and women arbitrarily impose their decisions through violent means. This is the case for the displacement programs and deportations. It is also the case for the problems that workers confront in their search for work and the multitude of obstacles states placed on them infringing upon their rights to migrate to the country they choose.
What will unite all these events will be our decision to affirm the right to migrate or not to migrate, the right to choose where we want to live, and not to be displaced from our own territories.
This dream can become reality if we are many in the struggle and we fight together. The events of December 18 are to be another common space to be used by all those among us who already struggle for the rights of migrants, refugees and displaced people.
We are therefore inviting all organizations whether religious or non-religious, unions, political organizations, and the civil society at large to make this international initiative a success.
Actions in defense of the rights of migrants are taking place worldwide, including in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Niger, Senegal, Tunisia, Canada, El Salvador, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.
In the U.S. meetings, marches, exhibits and more are also taking place, including in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Greeneville and Ashville North Carolina, Dalton, Georgia, San Antonia Texas, Chicago, Portland, Oregon, Oakland, California, and Honolulu.
Cambridge City Council Passes Resolution Urging the U.S. Government to Sign the UN Convention
The Cambridge City Council passed a resolution on its session of December 5, declaring December 18, 2011 and annually thereafter, as International Migrants Day in Cambridge. It also urges the U.S. Government to sign and ratify the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families and to similarly recognize December 18, 2011, as International Migrants Day. The Resolution also resolved to recognize the many contributions of immigrants and refugees to society as a whole.
Immigrant rights organizations will mark this day with a Public Forum in the City of Boston entitled “United in Resistance for Local & Global Immigrant Rights”. The event will be held at the Arlington Street Church on Sunday, December 18, starting at 4PM. The event is supported by: Centro Presente, MIRA, Mass. Jobs with Justice, Boston New Sanctuary Movement, AFSC Project Voice, Proyecto Hondureño, BMDC, Diocese of St. Francis of Assisi, Mata Hari, Centro Dominicano, Chelsea Collaborative, SIM, Community Change, Inc., The Network/La Red. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-290-5614
Below is the text of the Cambridge City Council Resolution:
WHEREAS: This City Council has learned that on December 18, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly approved the “International Convention for the Protection of the
Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families”; and
WHEREAS: In the year 2000, the United Nations proclaimed December 18th as International Migrants Day to promote the recognition of the rights of migrants, and ask all member states, inter-governmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations to observe this day; and
WHEREAS: To date, the United States has not ratified this Convention; and
WHEREAS: The “International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families” came into force on July 1, 2003, and the Convention is widely used as a tool to promote the human rights of migrants, recognize their contributions and also to advocate for the U.S. government to ratify the convention; and
WHEREAS: Civil society organizations throughout the world have decided to mark this day with a Global Day of Action Against Racism and for the Rights of Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People, and immigrant and refugee rights advocates throughout the United States will hold events to join their peers worldwide on or about December 18, 2011; and
WHEREAS: The population of our City has many generations of immigrants that arrived here under different circumstances but have settled through the years and have provided significant contributions to our City; now therefore be it
RESOLVED: That this City Council go on record declaring December 18, 2011, and annually thereafter, as International Migrants Day in Cambridge; and be it further
RESOLVED: That this City Council urge the United States Government to sign and ratify the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families and to similarly recognize December 18, 2011, and annually thereafter, as International Migrants Day; and be it further
RESOLVED: That this City Council recognize the many contributions of immigrants and refugees to society as a whole and salutes and encourages the many events being held in our City, the country and the world on this day to strengthen our tolerance and respect for the human rights of all people, regardless of their race or citizenship status; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward a suitably engrossed copy of this resolution to Congressman Michael Capuano, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on behalf of the entire City Council.
NAACP Warns Black and Hispanic Americans Could Lose Right to Vote
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is petitioning the United Nations over what it sees as a concerted effort to disenfranchise African American and Latino voters ahead of next year’s presidential election.
The NAACP called the move the “most vicious, coordinated and sinister attack to narrow participation in our democracy since the early 20th century.” The organization will present evidence to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights of what it contends is a conscious attempt to “block the vote” on the part of state legislatures across the U.S. Next March the NAACP will send a delegation of legal experts to Geneva to enlist the support of the UN human rights council.
The NAACP contends that the U.S. is in the throes of a consciously conceived and orchestrated move to strip black and other ethnic minority groups of the right to vote. […]
In its report, Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America, the NAACP explores the voter suppression measures taking place particularly in southern and western states. Fourteen states have passed a total of 25 measures that will unfairly restrict the right to vote, among black and Hispanic voters in particular.
The new measures are focused – not coincidentally, the association insists – in states with the fastest growing African American populations (Florida, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina) and Latino populations (South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee). The NAACP sees this as a cynical backlash to a surge in ethnic minority voting evident in 2008.
In that year, black and Hispanic voters turned out in record numbers, partly in a wave of enthusiasm for Barack Obama. More than 2 million additional black voters turned out over 2004, an increase of 15 percent.
Among Hispanics, the upturn was even more pronounced. Two million additional voters attended the polls – a rise of 28 percent on the previous presidential election.
The scale of the assault on voting rights is substantial, according to experts on electoral law. The Brennan Center for Justice, based at New York University law school, estimates that the new measures could bar as many as 5 million eligible voters from taking part in choosing the occupant of the White House next year.
The 14 states that have embarked on such measures hold two-thirds of the Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency. Put another way, of the 12 “battleground” states that will determine the outcome of the presidential race, five have already cut back on voting rights and two more are in discussions about following suit.
Ethnic minority groups are not the only sections of society at risk of losing their voting rights. The Brennan Center warns that young voters and students, older voters and poor income groups are also vulnerable.
The NAACP says voting rights are being whittled down at every stage of the electoral process. First of all, the registration of new voters is being impeded in several states by moves to block voter registration drives that have historically proved to be an important way of bringing black and Hispanic people to the poll.
Four states – Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia – continue to withhold the vote from anyone convicted of a criminal offence. In Florida, offenders who have completed their sentences have to wait at least five years before they can even apply to restore their right to register to vote. Across the U.S., more than 5 million Americans are denied the right to vote on grounds that they were convicted of a felony, 4 million have fully completed their sentence and almost half are black or Hispanic.
Other measures have reduced the ease of early voting, a convenience that is disproportionately heavily used by African-Americans. Even more importantly, 34 states have introduced a requirement that voters carry photo ID cards on the day of the election itself.
Studies have showed that the proportion of voters who do not have access to valid [often federally issued] photo ID cards is much higher among older African-Americans because they were not given birth certificates in the days of segregation. Students and young voters also often lack required identification and are thus in danger of being stripped of their right to vote.
In Texas, a law has been passed that prevents students from voting on the basis of their college ID cards, while allowing anyone to cast their ballot if they can show a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
Benjamin Jealous, the NAACP’s president, said the moves amounted to “a massive attempt at state-sponsored voter suppression.” He added that the association will be urging the UN “to look at what is a coordinated campaign to disenfranchise persons of color.”
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