2019: Asia Sunday - 2. Juni
Christian Conference of Asia (CCA). Asia Sunday 2.6.2019
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Stateless and Trafficked People: Our Co- Pilgrims
Asia Sunday is observed every year on the Sunday before Pentecost, and it coincides with the official inaguration of the Christian Conference of Asia.
Asia Sunday observance focuses on a particular theme every year.
This special occasion reminds member churches and councils as well as other partner churches and ecumenical organisations around the world to reflect on a specific Asian issue/ theme and organise worship services to offer special prayers.
In 2019, Asia Sunday falls on 2 June, but as usual, churches and councils are free to choose a date, as per their convenience, to observe Asia Sunday in respective local or national contexts.
“When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”
“Don’t oppress an immigrant. You know what it’s like to be an immigrant, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt”
“You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household...with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
(Ephesians 2: 19-22)
Dazu erklärt der Generalsekretär der Christian Conference of Asia folgendes:
Statelessness and human trafficking are often intertwined, and are grave and widespread human rights problems of the contemporary world. Both issues have even been linked through the common claim that statelessness puts a person at greater risk of becoming a victim of trafficking. Millions of Asians, including women and children, are at risk of being stateless and trafficked as migrant workers both within and outside the region.
The stateless persons who are not recognised as nationals by any state have no nationality or citizenship and they live in vulnerable situations. As the stateless people living in particular geographical areas are not protected by any national legislation, the consequences of their situations of statelessness are profound. Statelessness affects all aspects of life and is a massive problem for twelve mil-lion people who are located in different parts of the world. These people be-came stateless due to various reasons and circumstances, mostly as a result of the denial of citizenship. In other cases political considerations dictated chang-es in the way citizenship laws were applied. Persecutions of ethnic minorities and discrimination of indigenous people, etc exist. There are also individuals who became stateless due to personal circumstances which they flee to neigh-bouring countries as a result of ethnic, religious or political reasons.
Stateless people exist in most Asian countries. Forty per cent of the identified stateless population of the world live in Asia and the Pacific. In South East Asia and South Asia, discriminatory laws, policies and practices on the basis of gen-der, ethnicity, race and religion have significantly contributed to statelessness. The Rohingyas in Myanmar are the most vulnerable stateless people in Asia. More than a million Rohinygas have been denied citizenship and subjected to persecution. Around one million of them live outside the country, many as refugees or illegal migrants in Bangladesh, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia where they are vulnerable to deportation and live in impoverished conditions. Close to one million hill tribe people in Thailand lack Thai citizenship as they are unable to provide documentation of their birth-place or parentage. Children among the two million Myanmar refugees or economic migrants in Thailand are ineligible for Thai or Myanmar citizenship, rendering them stateless. Millions of people in Assam state of India have been effectively made stateless by the Indian government’s recent actions, as the Indian government will no longer consider them as Indian citizens as they are not included in the draft list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Persons of Chinese descent have also faced restrictions on citizenship rights in Indo-nesia, Korea, and in Vietnam. Tens of thousands of undocumented children of migrant parents in Sabah in eastern Malaysia are believed to be stateless and extremely vulnerable, particularly those whose parents have been deported. Over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees in Nepal are among the most protracted situations of statelessness. Since being forcibly displaced during the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, many ethnic Cambodians have lived in Vietnam for generations, and they have lost their documentation or any proof of hav-ing lived in Cambodia. This has resulted in their loss of lawful residence and nationality and they remain stateless. The Sama Dilaut, a migratory maritime people of Southeast Asia, is a group of people who face acute discrimination and risk of statelessness. Gender discrimination in nationality laws also cause statelessness in Asia especially in Nepal, Brunei Darussalam, and Malaysia. These countries continue to discriminate against women in their ability to con-fer nationality on their children or spouses.
Today, trafficking in persons thrives as modern-day slavery. The 2014 Global Slavery Index (GSI) found that there are nearly 36 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, of which 23.5 million, nearly two thirds, are from Asia. Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts for 58% of all cases detected globally, while trafficking for forced labour accounts for 36%. Women account for about 60% of trafficking victims, and children 27% (two thirds of them girls). Removal of organs, begging, forced marriages, illegal adoptions, participation in armed combat, and the commission of petty crimes are some of the other reasons for human trafficking. The UN estimates 2.5 million peo-ple are in forced labour, including sexual exploitation, of which 1.4 million are in Asia and the Pacific. The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age. A large number of trafficked people also become ‘stateless’. It is identified that stateless people are significantly more likely to face labour exploitation. Young women are more at risk of becoming victims of labour exploitation as well as sexual exploitation.
As the consequences and impacts of statelessness and human trafficking are enormous, the Christian response warrants to address this menace with ur-gent priority. It is important to care for migrants, trafficked and stateless as the human family is intimately connected or interdependent. There are numerous issues linked to movement of people within and beyond borders, especially the rampant rise of inequality, ethnocentrism, racism, violence and extreme na-tionalism. All these dehumanising factors are degrading the image of God and the basic dignity deserved by every human being created in the image of God. The Christian response and witness, therefore, require to protect the basic dig-nity. The Church as an instrument of caring for God’s creation must protect those who have been trafficked to exploitation and those who are forced to live in our midst as stateless. Our response must also address rescue and rehabili-tation the victims of human trafficking as well as protection of the rights of the stateless and reintegrate them back into their community to lead a meaningful and dignified life.
Asia Sunday is observed every year on the Sunday before Pentecost, and it co-incides with the date of the inaugural assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia. The Asia Sunday this year will be observed on 2 June 2019. The member churches and councils of CCA, as well as churches and ecumenical partners around the world, observe Asia Sunday as an occasion to offer special prayers and worship services with focus on a special theme pertinent to the Asian context. The CCA, in this context, has decided to focus the theme of the Asia Sunday-2019 on ‘Stateless and Trafficked People in Asia: Our Co-Pilgrims’. It is our prayer and hope that the churches and the ecumenical family will take ini-tiatives to plan and organise the Asia Sunday -2019 in a most befitting manner.
Mathews George Chunakara
General Secretary, CCA