Indonesian migrant claim victory over SE2258, Vow to pursue fight vs overcharging, illegal salary deduction and lack of services

Press release
23 February 2008
“Our unity and militant actions forced the Indonesian Consulate in Hong Kong to withdraw the blatantly anti-migrant ban on transfer of agencies. We vow to continue our fight against greater problems of overcharging, illegal salary deduction, and insufficient services of Indonesian government.”
This was declared by Eni Lestari, spokesperson of the United Indonesians against Overcharging (PILAR) and chairperson of the Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (ATKI-HK), before Indonesian migrant workers who rallied in front of Indonesian Consulate last Sunday, February 17, against Circular Letter 2258. The protest action was organized by PILAR, ATKI and the Indonesian Migrant Muslim Alliance (GAMMI).
Since January 13 this year, PILAR, GAMMI and ATKI where at the forefront of picket actions and protest programs against the rule that prohibited IMWs who have worked for less than two years in Hong Kong to change agencies.
While hundreds of Indonesian domestic workers rallied, representatives of the organizers were invited by Consul General RI , Ferry Adamhar for a dialogue where the he announced the scrapping of Circular Letter 2258.
On 10 February 2008, PILAR and GAMMI organized public forum to scrap SE 2258 attended by thousands of Indonesian migrant workers. The forum was followed by 2,000 strong rally at the Consulate.
“It was the first time in our history that thousands of Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong joined the rally and it proved that IMWs are becoming more aware of issues of migrant workers. The Indonesian migrant workers movement is indeed stronger,” Lestari remarked.
After thousands of IMWs surrounded Indonesian Consulate last 10 February, representatives of the Indonesian Consulate sought the officers of PILAR on 14 February and informed the group that the policy will be scrapped.
“This experience has affirmed our belief to continue our united efforts. It is a victory for every Indonesian migrant who faces abuses and exploitation from unscrupulous recruitment agencies,” she relayed.
The formal announcement of the policy’s scrapping was released by the Consulate last 23 February.
“This couldn’t have been possible without the determination of Indonesian migrants and our organized efforts to push through with our demands. We also account this victory to the support the migrant workers of other nationalities in Hong Kong, institutions that provide services to migrant workers, and our advocates and families in Indonesia who also stood with us on this campaign,” she declared.
Lestari said that bigger campaigns are planned by the groups in the coming months.
“We will never stop. Our rights and welfare are at stake and we shall not standby while these are violated and neglected,” she concluded.#
Anggota: Akhwat Gaul, Alexa Dancer, Al Fattah, Al Hikmah, Al Istiqomah Internasional Muslim Society, Al Ikhlas, Al Jamiatus Solehah, An Nisaa International Muslim Society, Arrohmah, Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (ATKI-HK), Birul Walidain, Borneo Dancers, Dance in Freedom (DIF), Forum Muslimah Al Fadhilah (FMA-HK), Ikatan Wanita Muslim Indramayu Cirebon (IWAMIC), Ikatan Wanita Hindu Dharma Indonesia (IWHDI), Java Dance, KREN Dancers, Nur Muslimah Shatín, Peace, Simple Groups, Terali Dancer, Wanodya Indonesian Club, Zaqia.

For reference                      
Eni Lestari
Spokesperson, Phone: [852] 96081475

Chronology of important events in the successful campaign of Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong against SE2258

In the following, we wish to relate the chronological sequence of events that PILAR, GAMMI and ATKI coordinated.
Monday, January 7, 2008: ATKI learned about the issue when members started to call and ask questions about the new policy. Information was immediately gathered for ATKI to have a proper analysis on the rule and its impacts to Indonesian migrant workers. ATKI called the Indonesia Consulate-General and they said that the rule was issued because of complaints from agencies that IMWs stop paying them the equivalence of seven-month salary. ATKI pointed out that such salary deduction is illegal.
In the succeeding days, ATKI called up leaders of PILAR and GAMMI about the issue and an immediate action for Sunday was planned.
Sunday, January 13, 2008: A popular action of 250 PILAR and GAMMI members demonstrated in front of the Indonesian Consulate-General in Hong Kong to reject the policy, SE 2258. PILAR and GAMMI declared their intention to hold a massive demonstration on February 10th to have policy number SE 2258 scrapped. PILAR and GAMMI initiated an anti-SE 2258 petition and collected 10 thousand signatures from Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong.
Sunday, January 20, 2008: A popular action of 300 PILAR and GAMMI members demonstrated in front of the Indonesian Consulate-General in Hong Kong to reject the policy, SE 2258. Simultaneously, 40 leaders of member organizations of PILAR and GAMMI held a meeting to prepare for an emergency meeting in the office of ATKI.
Thursday, January 24, 2008: PILAR and GAMMI erected a picket line outside the Indonesian Consulate-General in Hong Kong. The picket was reinforced by clients from Bethune House, Istiqomah Shelter, Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) and Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB).
Friday, February 1, 2008: The network of major service providers that included the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW), Christian Action and the Helpers for Domestic Helpers (HDH) in Hong Kong met at St. John’s Cathedral to discuss the issue, give their support, and unite on actions regarding policy number SE 2258.
Sunday, February 3, 2008: A popular action of PILAR and GAMMI members demonstrated in front of the Indonesian-Consulate General in Hong Kong. Simultaneously, PILAR and GAMMI held the final meeting in preparation for the massive demonstration planned for February 10th.
Tuesday February 5, 2008: The Indonesian Consulate-General issued a press release to state that the consulate would not rescind policy number SE 2258.
Saturday, February 9, 2008: PILAR garnered support for the rejection of policy number 2258 in Indonesia. Fifteen (15) organizations from various sectors and NGOs declared their support for PILAR and GAMMI’s demand to reject policy number SE 2258.
Sunday, February 10, 2008: An anti-SE 2258 meeting was attended by thousands of Indonesian migrant workers at Victoria Park. Apart from Indonesian migrant workers, the open meeting received support from APMM, AMRC, MFMW, the Association for the Advancement of Feminism (AAF), members of AMCB such as the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) and the Thai Regional Alliance (TRA).
At 14:00 the people marched from Victoria Park, through Causeway Bay and stationed themselves in front of the Indonesian Consulate-General to demonstrate. The local police force only allowed 350 people to march, however other Indonesian migrant workers joined along the road. Around 1,500 Indonesian migrant workers gathered outside the Indonesian Consulate-General to demand the retraction of policy number SE 2258.
Monday, February 11, 2008: Student members of Front Mahasiswa Nasional (FMN) held a demonstration outside BNP2TKI in Jakarta, Indonesia, to demand an open dialogue about policy number SE 2258. They demanded that it should be retracted.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008: Gerakan Perempuan Untuk Perlindungan Buruh Migran (GPPBM) held a dialogue with BNP2TKI to discuss their demands for the scrapping of the SE 2258.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008: The Indonesian Consulate-General contacted PILAR and told PILAR that they accept the demands made by Indonesian migrant workers. They also requested a meeting with PILAR to discuss the retraction of SE 2258.
Thursday, February 14, 2008: Two representatives from the Indonesian Consulate-General sought the representatives of PILAR at ATKI’s office. They stated that policy number SE 2258 would be frozen. For this reason, they asked representatives from PILAR to meet with the Consul-General Ferry Adamhar to discuss the measures that need to be taken after the policy is retracted on February 17th.
PILAR formally accepted the proposed measures and agreed to attend the closed dialogue on February 17th. However, PILAR declared that the group will not stop organizing actions for other issues like the illegal seven months deductions, overcharging and consular services for migrant workers on Sunday. Aside from that, PILAR demanded that the decision should be announced to other organizations. The Indonesian Consulate-General informed us that they had already done this.
Sunday, February 17, 2008: The closed dialogue was held. PILAR sent five representatives while other members held a demonstration outside the Consulate-General. After the dialogue, all Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong celebrated the deserved victory!

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