Fifty people participated in the working groups meeting on MIGRATION and RACISM which took place jointly. 21 countries were represented.
As soon as the first European Preparatory Assembly (EPA) in Athens took place, we decided that migration and racism-related issues should be treated separately by two distinct working groups in order to facilitate the implementation of concrete proposals. We maintain our initial position that two distinct groups should be working in different spaces, with a few moments of convergence.
As this separation is not the sign of any opposition or competition between the two groups, we thought it appropriate, in Vienna, to bring them together during the network discussion in order to :
Exchange information on the decisions taken in Istanbul by the respective networks during the previous EPA.
Exchange information on the seminars proposed, in particular through the web-site ; -Find the points of agreement of Athens ESF ;
Discuss collectively the Greek organization committee¹s proposal regarding the final event of the Migration/Racism set of themes.
Regarding the proposals for seminars
It was agreed upon not to present a final program based on the seminars hereafter listed as many groups have not yet registered their own program.
However, some strongly recurring themes can be pointed out (on the web as well as within the networks who were present in Vienna but who didn¹t give their proposals up to now).
Therefore, we are able to present five themes which will most probably be dealt with during the seminars :
1. Consequences of the European migration policy.
[Issues regarding : camps, externalization of borders, control of the migratory flow, consequences of Dublin 1 and 2 conventions.] 2. Freedom of circulation, regularization, expulsions [Issues regarding illegal migrants, deaths at the borders, freedom of Settling and establishment…] 3. Access of foreigners to social and political rights [Issues regarding : right to vote of foreigners, right to education, fights and claims to housing rights, right to health, familial gathering] 4. Asylum [Issues regarding : the overview of different European realities, post-enlargement context, women and asylumŠ] 5. Labor and Migrations [Issues regarding : migration utilitarianism, free movement of workers, precariousness, status instability]
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. As the methodology of the ESF consists in proposing five to seven seminars, we still have the possibility of adding two or three other ones proposed by the network. (The network wishes to merge the seminars together and to be responsible for it because it would be less effective to discuss the same issues in a decentralized way.)
For example, during the meeting in Vienna, four other topics were presented which did not lead to concrete measures in the five seminars which were proposed :
Trafficking human beings, especially women ;
Issues regarding children ;
The Kurd issue and, in a broader sense, the problem of population transfer and repression ;
The problem of Roms and more generally, issues regarding populations from the Balkans, Caucasus, Chechnya…
Therefore, the group will have to work together, before the next EPA, in order to find the proposals of the seminars on these issues and more generally on all the different proposals which will be submitted at the end of February (closing date for the proposals : February 20, 2006).
1. Plenary Assembly on migration and racism
The working group in Vienna validated and confirmed the decision taken in Istanbul during the last EPA regarding the setting up of an Assembly on migration and racism. This Assembly will take place at the end of the forum and after all the various activities.
This assembly is very important :
to deal in a transversal way with migration and racism-related issues,
to make possible that the informal groups and networks which are not participating in the forum will join us ;
to gather the social movement: Trade Unions, NGOs, migrant groups, anti-racism networks, other thematic networks…
We should determine the form and the contents of this assembly. We have mentioned the need to turn it into a cultural and festive moment, besides being a place of discussion After the ESF, we wish to make this assembly a permanent fixture.
2. Regarding the Greek proposition for the great event
Reminder of the Greek organizing committee proposal : to organize one of the six important events regarding racism and migration issues.
The title proposed is : ³Immigrants and refugees through Europe: the struggle for the right of asylum, legalization, and the social equality of immigrants².
The Vienna working group position is as follows :
The big event shouldn¹t be in the form of a plenary session in which
three or four participants would speak in the name of….
The group does not agree with the title of the proposal and the content it implies. It was recalled that the event should represent the debates, the struggles and the proposals.
The title must therefore denounce the consequences of the European policy on migration. It should underline the role and responsibility of the European Union as well as of our governments in every day situations which migrants have to live, in cases such as Ceuta and Melilla, or regarding the militarization of maritime areas, and in a broader sense, it should show that death within border areas are not accidental.
It should also show that we are not fighting FOR migrants but TOGETHER WITH them. Let us recall that we are not fighting for a specific category of individuals but for the establishment of an interconnected and human Europe.
Let us recall that we cannot live in a continent like Europe which denies people the most elementary rights and liberties.
The group proposed another title : ³Against European migration policies, against racism and for the freedom of circulation and the equality of rights².
The title was not registered, it was only a proposal which we will discuss.
We could do it by using the thematic lists of discussion on the ESF web site.
The objective of the great event is to make our struggle and claims visible.
The group is therefore thinking on the different means to meet such a purpose and proposes the following :
1. At the end of the ESF and once all other seminars have been held, the Assembly on migrations and racism should represent an important and visible event, one which will bring people together.
2. The group has decided to set up a specific action related to racism and migration issues. It could take the form of a sit-in or an occupation of a symbolic site (the Foreign Office, a police station, institutional sites representing EuropeŠ) or a camp for foreigners. The Greek network and organizing committee will think upon this question and make proposals during the next EPA.
3. The group agrees upon calling networks and individuals working groups on migration and racism to participate in the collective event organized by the ESF itself, which usually takes place on saturdays or sundays. The proposal of the group is to prepare flyers and banners in order to make our claims and proposals more visible.
4. In order to increase the visibility of the event, the group recalled the position they hold on the localization of thematic spaces and wishes to maintain the unity of activity methodology. It is crucial to have one unity of time and space per thematic, because it will facilitate public display as well as working in a transversal way on other themes by having a clear vision of the sites and of where and when activities will take place.
Knowing who does what and where they do it makes everything much easier.
5. The group recalls the necessity of bringing communication material in as many languages as possible in order to show the cultural diversity of the movement. Therefore, all the associations should think about making posters, flyers, bannersŠ
3. The campaigns
The ESF should represent an opportunity to join forces with different campaigns. However, due to a lack of time, this issue was not specifically addressed. Two themes were evoked, without specifying if the aim was to create new campaigns or to join forces with the existing ones :
regarding the issue of kidnapped Pakistanis in Greece
regarding the regularization and the freedom of circulation.
All the organizations and the Greek committee should :
Help migrants to come thanks to financial aid, but also through negotiations to obtain visas ;
Migrants should be able to participate actively in the organization of the forum and of the various spaces, and not only to be ³listened to².
In Bamako, Mali, the polycentric World Social Forum will take place from January 19 to January 23.
Migration will be one of the main issues and many organizations taking part in the ESF process will participate. For us, it will be the starting point of a process which will lead us to Athens and Nairobi in 2007. We hope, and we are confident, that the seminars, meetings and other initiatives in Bamako will reinforce the European dynamic .