ITALY, Messina : Migrants sit next to some of the 13 coffins of migrants who died attempting the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea, at Messina harbour on July 29, 2015. More than 1,800 migrants have been picked up in the Mediterranean and 13 bodies recovered as the exodus from north Africa by boat endures, Italy’s coast guard said on July 28. The 13 bodies were recovered by an Irish military ship after it came to the aid of one of the boats, which was carrying 522 people. AFP PHOTO / GIOVANNI ISOLINO


Statement by Migrante International, April 29, 2015

It is with utmost jubilance that we announce to all Filipinos and supporters here in the Philippines and around the world that the Indonesian government has suspended the implementation of the death sentence on our kababayan Mary Jane Veloso until all proceedings in the Philippines is finished.

We express our most heartfelt joyous solidarity with the Veloso family – Tatay Cesar and Nanay Celia, Christopher, Maritess, Darling and the rest of Mary Jane’s siblings, Michael, and most especially to Mac-Mac and Darren who have captured our hearts and further fortified our resolve to fight for Mary Jane’s life to the end. We feel your triumph because it is also ours. We rejoice with you. You have become every Filipino’s family, and Mary Jane every Filipino’s daughter, sister and mother.

We said that only the people can save Mary Jane. We fought the good fight, we would like to think the best fight that we could have ever waged, and because of this we have prevailed.

The whole Filipino nation and the world now cry tears of joy but, collectively, with peoples of other nationalities, we rage against the injustice done to Mary Jane. We will continue to fight for justice for Mary Jane, justice for all migrant workers and justice for the Filipino people.

Now, heads must roll.


Las Patronas Celebrate 20 Years of Service

This February 14, the collective of women known as “Las Patronas” celebrate 20 years of service to migrants on their way north to the United States.

The migrants often travel atop freight trains with ominous nicknames such as “El tren de la muerte,” La bestia,” and “El tren de los desconocidos.” Most of them coming from Central American countries where US-backed wars and coup d’etats have forced many to emigrate.

As they attest in this short doc, what were once trains full of men are now packed with pregnant women and entire families, including young children.

Check out this short doc and help celebrate their 20 years of remarkable contributions to the lives of thousands. A salute to Las Patronas!

Video via Deborah Bonello, Global Post

'They hit us, with hammers, by knife': Rohingya migrants tell of horror at sea

Up to 8,000 are believed to be stuck off Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian coasts, and those who made it to shore describe violence and starvationUp to 8,000 are believed to be stuck off Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian coasts, and those who made it to shore describe violence and starvation

Crowded under tarpaulin tents strewn with rubbish and boxes of water, the Burmese and Bangladeshi migrants speak of horrors at sea: of murders, of killing each other over scarce supplies of food and water, of corpses thrown overboard.

“One family was beaten to death with wooden planks from the boat, a father, a mother and their son,” says Mohammad Amin, 35. “And then they threw the bodies into the ocean.”

Amin, an ethnic Rohingya Muslim, first boarded a boat from Burma three months ago. Now he is among 677 migrants who are being housed in a makeshift camp by the harbour in Langsa, Indonesia, after spending months in the Andaman Sea.


Getting to the camp was an epic struggle. As governments around the region have refused the migrants entry, and their navies have pushed them back, it was eventually down to Acehnese fishermen to rescue the boat on Friday, towing it to shore in Langsa.

But at least now they are on dry land. Between 6,000 and 8,000 more are believed to still be stuck off the coasts of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, with limited water and food, in a situation the UN has warned could fast become a “massive humanitarian crisis” because no government in the region is willing to take them in.

Mohammad Rafique, 21, says that when the boat he was on first floated into Indonesian waters last week, the navy gave them provisions of food and water. “After that they asked us, ‘Where you go now?’” he explains, “We said, ‘We are going to Malaysia.’ The Indonesian navy said, ‘Go to Malaysia,’ and they take us to the Malaysian border.”

In Malaysia they were met with the same response.

Men are fed intravenously at a makeshift hospital of the refugee camp in Langsa, Indonesia.

Out back in the hospital wing in Langsa, a row of men lie on stretchers with their emaciated limbs hooked up to intravenous drips. The back of one shirtless man is marked with deep red lashes.

“They hit us, with hammers, by knife, cutting,” says Rafique, recalling onboard violence between the different groups of migrants. He presents his only possession – a Rohingya identity card from the United Nations high commission for refugees in Bangladesh.

Mother with child seek respite from the sun at the Langsa refugee campMother with child seek respite from the sun at the Langsa refugee camp

Many of those on the ships are from northern Burma’s persecuted Rohingya minority, who have been denied citizenship and voting rights, even though many have lived in the country for generations.

In the majority Buddhist nation, the Rohingya have continued to flee sectarian violence and poor conditions in refugee camps.

Many do so by boat using people smugglers but a recent crackdown by the Thai government is believed to have led to some boats - and their human cargo - being abandoned at sea.

In Langsa, Amin, a former farmer in Burma, tells of how his village was set alight in a violent attack several years ago. His mother, he says, was burned to death because she was too old to escape.

“The government is torturing us,” says Zukura Khotun, a mother of three who fled Burma’s Rakhine state and boarded a boat in the hope she could be reunited with her husband in Malaysia.

Others in the camp from Bangladesh are also quick to identify themselves as ethnic Rohingya Muslims, some saying they were travelling to Malaysia for work, to get married or to join their family members.

No one can say exactly how many people passed away on board. Rafique, who says he spent his whole life in a refugee camp in Bangladesh until starting on the sea voyage, claims that up to 200 people died during the journey.

But it is impossible to immediately verify or corroborate their stories.

Sayed Oestman, head of the Langsa development committee says there are still palpable tensions between the two groups of migrants who are divided at the camp after the vicious fighting at sea.

“So far we hear the Bangladeshi, they are the workers planning to go to Malaysia,” says Oestman, “The Rohingyas from Burma are saying they are fleeing conflict in their country.”

More than 1,000 people have arrived on Aceh’s shores on dilapidated vessels over the past week.

Inside the tents at Langsa women nurse their children while sipping water or small cartons of warm Milo in the afternoon heat as wafts of burning plastic blow over them from the fires being used to burn rubbish.

Indonesian volunteers are tacking up toilet cubicles out of thin plywood and a mountain of second-hand clothes has been dumped in the grass. Oestman says there is an urgent need for medication and vitamins at the camp. Twenty-five migrants have been admitted to the local general hospital.

Read on:-

César Chávez and UFW’s Use of Racist Language Against Their Own People

March 31st has been designated as a state holiday in places like California to pay homage to Cesar Chavez, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers. We should take the time to take a close look at the organizing tactics and language used by Chavez and the UFW in the 1960’s and 1970’s to see if we really want to celebrate his legacy.

In studying their newspaper, El Malcriado, from 1965 to 1972 we will see that the UFW, to a certain extent, had a working relationship with border patrol. That was because the UFW wanted border patrol to deport the Mexican migrant farm worker who crossed their picket lines. Another tactic used by the UFW, though not mentioned in El Malcriado that were studied, was their ‘wetline’ tactic. This was a tactic where the UFW would go down to the U.S. and Mexican border to camp out and to notify border patrol where ever they seen our people crossing the border “illegally.”

In regards to the language used in El Malcriado, we see that woven into their articles is the racist term “wetback” (wb) and “illegal immigrants” to describe the Mexican migrants who were brought in some cases by the farm owners to do the work of the strikers. It is definitely shocking and upsetting to see some of the UFW’s leadership embrace racist stereotypes like wb to describe our people. Some of this information might be common knowledge to academics, but to the majority of us Mexicans, Central Americans and beyond, these facts are brand new and extremely disturbing. Read more here.

The Ugly Truth Behind British Tourists’ Ruined Holidays in Greece

First thing this morning, I read an article in the Daily Mail about British tourists on the Greek island Kos who complained about asylum seekers ruining their holidays and turning the island into a “disgusting hellhole.”

I have just returned from Kos, where I met with asylum seekers who crossed by boat from Turkey to Greece. Let me tell you something about hellholes.

Read more

MYANMAR, SITTWE : This photo taken on May 21, 2015 shows an ethnic Rohingya Muslim woman looking back as she rides a tuk tuk near a camp set up outside the city of Sittwe in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Malaysia ordered search and rescue missions on May 22 for thousands of boatpeople stranded at sea, as Myanmar hosted talks with US and Southeast Asian envoys on the migrant exodus from its shores.  AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU                        

“Hundreds of people are feared to have drowned after a boat carrying up to 700 migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian coastguard says.” BBC News.

Again?! My heart aches, this is actually getting out of hand. People go through horrible conditions on these journeys and leave everything behind in search of a better life and this happens, they die. Rest In Peace to all those that have died.

Watch on

Senegalese Director Moussa Touré’s Film “La Pirogue” Chronicles A Fictional Journey Of Migration That Is All Too Real.

“La ou on va, c'est pas le paradis.“ 

Haunting and revealing words that capture both the tone of the film and the complex reality of the situation that provides its fictional but all to real storyline. It is at this point in the film that both the characters and viewers are, together, forced to confront the painful reality of the imminent dangers that are terrifyingly inevitable.

Pushed to desperation by the economic climate in their home country, a group of men and one woman, in a Senegalese coastal town depart in a ‘pirogue’ - a small fishing boat barely fit for tempestuous and unruly waters - in search of a new, and hopefully better, life in Spain.

Journeys such as this are never taken on a whim. Each and every single passenger on board is aware - to an extent - of the dangers of such a voyage, most notably the boat’s reluctant captain, fisherman Baye Laye (Souleymane Seye Ndiaye). Unlike many who capitalize on the desperation of migrants and refugees, Laye is in many ways as much a victim as his passengers. Survival lies at the very core of human existence, and in the stories of the film’s characters, but for many this everyday struggle leaves them with choices that degrade and strip them of their humanity. 

As filmmaker Moussa Touré gives us the bits and pieces of the life stories of Laye and many of the film’s other characters, we move away from the desensitization of media reports and anti-immigrant rhetoric to an environment whereby a much more intimate relationship is forged between the viewer and various personalities in the film. Representing a microcosm of the troubling number of people who, daily, risk life and limb under similar circumstances, this humanizing element is perhaps the most important aspect of the film. By limiting the number of people ferried on this equality small boat, Touré personalizes this distressing experience. Confronted by this, Touré successfully highlights the humanity of the real-life individuals that have been reduced to numbers and sub-human masses.