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amnesty, exploitation top concern at migrant rights protest

In a powerful display of unity and determination, at least 100 people from various walks of life gathered at a protest rally in Auckland, advocating for migrant's rights and demanding a fairer system for migrant workers.
Organised with the intent of engaging decision-makers and amplifying the concerns of migrants, the protest on August 26, 2023, was held outside the electorate office of Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan in Onehunga. However, the
minister was not in office.
Organisers said the location underscored the urgent need to engage directly with decision-makers and highlight the pressing concerns faced by migrants in New Zealand. Among those present were people of Indian, Bangladeshi, Tongan, Samoan, Mexican, Sri Lankan, Ukrainian, and New Zealand descent. This multicultural representation underscored migrant issues resonate deeply within society
and transcend borders.
Some of the key demands were cessation of attaching migrant workers to single employers, and an extension of the migrant exploitation work visa from six to 12 months
among others.
“[Also] give amnesty for overstayers, have achievable pathways to residency and bring back stranded migrants. These demands reflect a collective aspiration for more equitable and just treatment of migrants. The response to the protest was really good,” said Anu Kaloti of Migrant Workers Association, which co-organised the event with Migrant Rights Network and Aotearoa Tongan Response Group.
Green Party’s MP and immigration spokesperson Ricardo Menendez, who has been a vocal advocate for migrant rights, also participated in the protest. He took to the stage to express solidarity with the cause and to assure the attendees that their voices were being heard at the highest
levels of government.
He highlighted Green Party's consistent support for migrant rights and emphasised their commitment to raising questions at parliamentary sessions about the challenges faced by migrant communities.
He later wrote on social media, “I've been fighting throughout my term in Parliament to extend Migrant
Exploitation Protection Visa because we know that people who experience exploitation need more than six months to get their life back on track.
“The extension of this visa will better support victims of exploitation, but we need to end bonded employment to start preventing exploitation in the first place. Having your whole ability to stay in the country dependent on your boss is a massive driver of exploitation. “
The rally featured diverse speakers who shared their perspectives. Among the speakers were Attaur Rehman from Bangladesh Skilled Migrants Association, and Rocky from Aotearoa Tongan Response Group. Their speeches underscored the solidarity among different migrant groups and their shared determination to foster positive change.
Attendees were united not only in their call for change but also in their expectations from the government."We expect our government to uphold the principles of fairness and
justice that are foundational to our democracy.
“We want to champion the rights of migrants and seek justice in a society built on principles of inclusivity and fairness"; said an attendee on the condition of anonymity.
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