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Yale University to Train U.S. Special Forces in Interrogation Techniques by Practicing on Immigrants

by Rania Khalek on February 18, 2013

The Department of Defense and Yale University have partnered up to train U.S. soldiers in the art of interrogation techniques with the local immigrant community acting as test subjects, reports the Yale Daily News.

As early as this April, Yale plans to welcome a training center for interrogators to its campus.

The center’s primary goal would be to coach U.S. Special Forces on interviewing tactics designed to detect lies. Charles Morgan III, a professor of psychiatry who will head the project, calls these tactics “people skills.” These techniques would be honed using New Haven’s immigrant community as subjects. Morgan hopes that by having soldiers practice their newly acquired techniques on “someone they can’t necessarily identify with” (read: someone who is not white), they’ll be better prepared to do ‘the real thing’ abroad.

The authors of the article, Nathalie Batraville and Alex Law, provide many reasons for why this training center is a terrible idea, one of which includes a lack of transparency. Apparently, students didn’t learn about the new program until now, just two months before the center opens. As Batraville and Law point out:

There was no conversation with the city about how this might impact its immigrant community. There was no conversation with students and faculty about how it might impact campus culture. And there was no conversation at all about the ethics of a project like this. It’s hard to understand where this project came from; the university’s motivations are wholly opaque.

They also argue that Yale could be indirectly involving itself in immoral practices by training soldiers whose skills could be used to, for example, determine whose name is added to President Obama’s kill list.

Most importantly, the authors offer some insight into the racist aspect of this program:

Morgan’s research and, by extension, this proposed center target people of color — brown people exclusively. According to a Yale Herald article, Morgan listed “Moroccans, Columbians, Nepalese, Ecuadorians and others.” Is there an assumption in Morgan’s desire to use more ‘authentic,’ brown interviewees as test subjects, that brown people lie differently from whites — and even more insidiously, that all brown people must belong to the same “category” of liar?

How might training on lie detection be perceived if it targeted blacks, or if it aimed to answer the question, “How do Jews lie?” That Morgan’s test subjects are compensated does not resolve the ethical questions his project raises. In fact, their participation highlights the structural inequality that this research capitalizes on and that the center would ultimately exploit.

As Nathalie was working on this piece, her phone rang. At the other end of the line was her 7-year-old nephew Rocco, who wanted to wish her a happy Valentine’s Day and send her many loud kisses. He now lives in Montreal, where Nathalie is from, but until about a year ago, he lived in Haiti.

The U.S.’ involvement in Haiti, from its occupation between 1915 and 1934 to its support — financial, logistical (and “moral”) — of François and later Jean-Claude Duvalier’s brutal dictatorships in the 60s and 70s, informs much of her outrage surrounding the establishment of this center, and her understanding that people often lie to protect their lives, their families, their country and the very freedom that Americans so dearly cherish.

Well said! But even without the the sickening immigrants-as-test-subjects aspect, the training center is still unsettling because it further solidifies the unholy alliance between physicians and the US war machine given that a professor of psychiatry is running the project. This should come as no surprise since we mostly ignored revelations that psychologists and medical doctors helped run the torture program at Guantanamo Bay (look forward, not backward!).

So congratulations Yale! You officially suck! Fortunately not all of your students do and they’re making noise about this program. Anybody interested following in their lead in halting the development of “Ivy League Interrogation Techniques Inc.” should add their name to this petition.

UPDATE: Investigative journalist and friend Steve Horn tells me he’s not at all surprised about Yale’s latest project given the university’s involvement in the Grand Strategy Programs (GSP), which Horn and Allen Ruff reported on in 2011 for Truthout.

A matrix of closely tied university-based strategic studies ventures, the so-called Grand Strategy Programs (GSP), have cropped up on a number of elite campuses around the country, where they function to serve the national security warfare state.

In tandem with allied institutes and think tanks across the country, these programs, centered at Yale University, Duke University, the University of Texas at Austin, Columbia University, Temple University and, until recently, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, illustrate the increasingly influential role of a new breed of warrior academics in the post-9/11 United States. The network marks the ascent and influence of what might be called the “Long War University.”

Ostensibly created to train an up-and-coming elite to see a global “big picture,” this grand strategy network has brought together scores of foreign policy wonks heavily invested – literally and figuratively – in an unending quest to maintain US global supremacy, a campaign which they increasingly refer to as the Long War.

This is the first I’ve heard of this program and I’m appalled (and super creeped out). I highly recommend reading the entire piece as well as a follow-up report here.

Editor’s Note. Thanks to various comrades for the heads-up.

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The Chtodelat News Challenge: A Friday Night on the Town in Petersburg’s Cultural Capital

As an exercise in close reading, we’d like to see what you, our readers, can make of these two hyper-fresh dispatches from Petersburg, Russia’s so-called cultural capital.

Mosque Raid Causes Outrage
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Human rights organizations in Russia, Tajikistan and Georgia on Tuesday protested mass arrests and reported harassment and beatings of mostly Central Asian and North Caucasus migrant workers during Friday’s raid on a marketplace in central St. Petersburg.

They are demanding a thorough investigation by Russian and Tajik authorities into the actions of law-enforcement officers who raided Apraksin Dvor, the marketplace in downtown St. Petersburg, during a service at a mosque on the market’s territory.

The Investigative Committee put the number of those detained at 271, but Fontanka.ru reported that “no less than 700” had been arrested, while human rights activists say that the number of arrests could be as high as 1,000.

Officially, the raid was part of a criminal investigation into “public incitement to terrorist activities or public justification of terrorism” and “inciting hatred or hostility as well as humiliation of human dignity” and was conducted jointly by several law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Security Service (FSB) and counter-extremism Center E. Smaller raids were held elsewhere in the city.

But only one person of the hundreds who were arrested is a suspect in that case.

Mass beatings were reported to have taken place during the raid at Apraksin Dvor.

“People who were victims of the mosque raid there and their relatives keep approaching us since the raid took place,” said Anna Udyarova, a lawyer with the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, on Tuesday.

“For instance, one citizen of Uzbekistan said he had gone there with his sons, the youngest of whom was 10, and security service officers had used force against him, had beaten him as well as his adult sons, and all this had happened before the eyes of his 10-year-old son.

“Witnesses who work nearby in Apraksin Dvor said about 200 people were beaten, and some sustained injuries as serious as broken arms and legs, but they refuse to file official complaints or document their injuries because they’re afraid of how the authorities will respond. But in conversation with us, they say that all the men who were at the mosque during the service were beaten.”

The only person detained as a suspect within the investigation, according to the Investigative Committee, was Murat Sarbyshev, born in Kabardino-Balkaria (a republic in the south of the Russian Federation) in 1988. He is suspected of having uploaded “extremist literature and videos depicting terrorist attacks on the Internet in a period between October 2010 and April 2011,” the Investigative Committee said in a statement Saturday.

“We are trying to understand why such a large-scale special operation was held to detain just one person — who turned out to be a citizen of Russia — and with such a large number of people suffering as the result of harassment and beatings,” Udyarova said.

“It had an intimidating effect not only on those who were at the mosque at the time, but also on all the foreign citizens, mainly of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, who are based in St. Petersburg and Russia, who learned about this incident and perceived it as a threat to themselves.”

According to Udyarova, up to 1,000 people may have been detained in the city on Friday.

“We were told that about 1,000 were detained, because this special operation took place not only in Apraksin Dvor, but in other places in the city simultaneously,” she said.

“Differences in numbers can be explained by the fact that not everybody who was detained was taken to a police precinct; only those who had problems regarding their immigration documents.

“Even if, as the Interior Ministry’s representative claimed, the objective of this campaign was not to expose illegal migrants and they were in fact looking for suspects in a criminal investigation, as usual, innocent people — foreigners — who were there are the ones who suffered.”

She said the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center will provide legal support if at least one person who is not intimidated enough to file a complaint is found.

According to the Investigative Committee, those detained included citizens of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and the regions of the North Caucasus, as well as one citizen of Egypt and one citizen of Afghanistan. Ten had personal documents showing signs of forgery, and twenty had no documents at all, the agency said in a statement Saturday.

Of those detained, seven were deported and one more was awaiting deportation in a detention center for foreigners, Interfax news agency reported Monday, citing a source in the police.

With the exception of them and the suspect Sarbyshev, all those detained during the raid were released with no charges pressed, it said.

Late on Tuesday, Interfax quoted a source with the FSB who claimed that the deported seven had links to an “international terrorist organization.”

_______

[…]

The polarisation of Russian nightlife is undoubtedly tied to the polarisation of wealth in Russian society. Is the arrival of places like Dom Byta [in Petersburg] — that shun the glitzy veneer that has been the hallmark aesthetic of Russian affluence since the Nineties — evidence of the emergence of a new middle class? Burtsev certainly thinks so. “A new generation has arrived that can travel, that can do projects, and the people remaining from the old generation are also willing to give things a go. They’ve made it possible to create this sort of good community.” For Burtsev, this change is starting to have a real impact on city life. “This young generation has already created its own space online,” he says. “They work in jobs like design, in a space beyond the reach of the government. And now we’re seeing people moving gradually, very gradually, to doing projects in real, concrete spaces.”

The transformation of Russia’s entertainment scene is dependent on two factors: time and travel. During the Soviet period, isolation, centralisation and a certain puritanism pushed Russian food culture to the brink of extinction: as a result foreign imports, like the ubiquitous sushi, have dominated the restaurant scene for the past two decades. But open borders have also allowed young Russian chefs, barmen and entrepreneurs to pick up best practice in Europe and America. Frequent trips to Paris, Madrid and Rome have also educated their potential audience. Along with new infrastructure such as better farms, catering schools and supply networks, which all take time to bear fruit, it’s this cosmopolitanism that has laid the foundation for the current renaissance in Russian food and drink.

An avowed Anglophile — Dom Byta has English beer on tap — Burtsev, who is just shy of 40, exemplifies the impact of Russia’s new-found wanderlust. “When we opened Solyanka six or seven years ago we were really influenced by places in London, in Shoreditch,” he says. “We would look at the people, at little details, at the general atmosphere.” His establishments meet the needs of a more educated audience: “The more people travel the more they get used to things: in London or elsewhere in Europe you can just pop in somewhere nice and get a bite to eat, or sit down and work with your laptop and feel relaxed about it.

[…]

Jamie Rann, “High spirits: what’s fuelling St Petersburg’s bar renaissance?,” The Calvert Journal

_______

How would you, dear readers, read these two stories together? Send us your answer (500 words or less) to our email address (chtodelatnews [at] googlemail [dot] com) or in the comments, below. We’ll post the most convincing entry on this blog as a separate, headlined posting. We’ll also mail the winner a complete set of the Chto Delat group’s popular, award-winning  songspiel films on DVD. And, as if that weren’t enough, we’ll treat the winner to a night on the town in Russia’s stunning cultural capital, Petersburg, including dinner at a restaurant featuring the cuisine of one of the city’s beloved ethnic minorities, followed by all the English tap beer they can drink at Dom Byta. (If “face control” lets us in, that is, and provided, of course, that the winner makes their own way to Petersburg.) The deadline for entries is next Friday at midnight Petersburg time (GMT + 0400).

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“You’re All Illegal”

Video of the day:

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Why Did a Danish NGO Finance a Manual Depicting Migrant Workers in Russia as Tools?

As first reported on social networks yesterday and then later picked up by local online media outlets Fontanka.ru and The Village, Petersburg city hall has recently been involved in the publication and distribution of a “Manual for Migrant Workers” in which the migrant workers, presumably from the former Central Asian Soviet republics, are depicted as a paint roller, a whisk, a spatula and a paint brush.

The manual is available in four languages—Russian, Tajik, Uzbek and Kyrgyz—and can be downloaded as a .pdf file from the web site of Petersburg city hall’s “Tolerance” program, where it was apparently posted on August 30 of this year.

An accompanying text explains that the brochure was published by the “regional public organization Future Outlook” with support from the Petersburg and Leningrad Regional office of the Federal Migration Service and the [Petersburg] Municipal Center for the Prevention and Monitoring of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases. Its stated aim is to promote “social adaptation and HIV/AIDS prevention among migrant workers from Central Asia.” To this end, the brochure has, allegedly, been made available at several locations around Petersburg and distributed at “training sessions” for migrants, also conducted by by Future Outlook.

While the Central Asian migrant workers are depicted throughout the manual as tools typically used in building renovation and maintenance, fields in which such workers are employed in large numbers in Russia’s major cities, the Russian law enforcement, immigration and health officials “welcoming” them to Russia, along with ordinary Russians encountered by the migrant workers during their stay, are depicted as human beings.

“Arrival in Russia”


“Crossing the Border”

“HIV Prevention: ‘Remember, You’re Expected to Arrive Home Healthy!'”

The Central Asian anthropomorphic “tools” are also given “useful advice” and “simple rules” for “feeling comfortable” in “Russia’s cultural capital.” Among other things, they are advised not to “wear ethnic clothing at all times and everywhere,” because it attracts “unwanted attention”; not to “wear sweatsuits constantly,  especially with classic dress shoes”; not to “go outside in a housecoat”; not to “squat on [their] haunches in public”; and not to “spit and litter.”

“Don’t Litter!”

Despite the fact that Central Asian migrant workers (along with other foreigners and members of Russia’s numerous ethnic minorities) have been frequent targets of neo-Nazi violence in recent years (the Moscow-based Sova Center has recorded 490 such assaults and murders in Petersburg during the period from 2004 to late September 2012) and are routinely exploited, conned and abused by Russian employers and government officials, the manual’s authors discourage them from “judging the city as a whole by one or even several unpleasant incidents that have happened to [them] or to people [they] know.”

And indeed, the manual’s final cartoon shows the Russian officials and a stereotypical Russian babuskha giving the Central Asian tools a warm farewell at the airport. The babushka comments, “What a good job you did with the renovations.”

According to an article published earlier today on news web site Newsru.com, spokespeople for Petersburg city hall have denied that it has anything to do with the brochure—even though it remains posted on the web site for the city’s “Tolerance” program as of this writing. In the same article, Gleb Panfilov, identified as the “head” of Future Outlook, the brochure’s publisher, is quoted as claiming that the illustrations provoked no “questions” or “negative emotions” among the migrant workers his organization had worked with, including a “focus group.”

“Generally speaking, when choosing these pictures of construction instruments, we had in mind not migrant workers, but simply helpers. They are helpful illustrations, characters in the booklet, like Clippy in the [Microsoft Office] computer program. And not a single migrant complained to us about this. […] We wanted our project to show that [migrant workers] should be treated as people, not as a labor force,” said Panfilov.

One aspect of the scandal that has so far gone unnoticed by Petersburg media is that the manual was, apparently, published with financial assistance from the Danish NGO DanChurchAid, as indicated by the acknowledgements in the manual’s colophon.

According to a statement on its web site, DanChurchAid’s mission is to “help and be advocates of oppressed, neglected and marginalised groups in poor countries and to strengthen their possibilities of a life in dignity.” Among its programs is one focused on providing relief to “poor migrant workers” from Central Asia and the “fight against HIV/AIDS” amongst such workers.

Is DanChurchAid aware of the content of the “Manual for Migrant Workers,” apparently published with its financial support? If it is aware of this content, does it believe that depicting “poor migrant workers” as construction tools is consistent with own mission?

We urge our readers to contact DanChurchAid for answers to these questions:

DanChurchAid
Nørregade 15
DK-1165 Copenhagen K
Denmark

Email: mail@dca.dk
Phone: +45 3315 2800
Fax: +45 3318 7816

Central Asia Regional Representative
Tatiana Kotova
Email: tk.russia@dca.dk

UPDATE. A reader has alerted us to the fact that the .pdf files of the manual have subsequently been removed from the Petersburg city hall web site. Here they are, in all four language versions, for downloading.

vostok-zapad-rus

vostok-zapad-kyrg

vostok-zapad-uzb

vostok-zapad-tadj

 

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Anti-Gay Protesters Attack Immigrants in Petersburg (May 17, 2012)

Anti-Gay Protesters Attack Immigrants
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
May 23, 2012

An authorized International Day Against Homophobia rally held in Petrovsky Park on the Petrograd Side of the city was broken up by ultranationalists and Orthodox radicals and ended with attacks and mass beatings Thursday [May 17].

A man shot at two demonstrators with a gun firing irritant fluid, and then a militant crowd smashed windows in two buses carrying Central Asian migrant workers — whom they initially mistook for departing LGBT activists — with stones and attacked those inside one of the buses when it came to a standstill.

Called the Rainbow Flash Mob, the rally — which had been officially authorized by the Petrogradsky district administration — was stopped about half an hour after its start time when the police, who were present in large numbers at the scene, told the organizers that they would not be able to hold back the anti-gay protesters for long, according to the LGBT rights group Vykhod (Coming Out).

Despite their massive presence, the police did not attempt to disperse an aggressive crowd that gathered near the rally site shouting homophobic slogans, firing rubber bullet and irritant guns and throwing objects.

Video footage from Piter.tv shows menacing-looking young men — many with their faces hidden by medical masks or black cloth — clapping rhythmically and chanting, “We will hang and bury you!”

Yevgeny Zubarev, a reporter with Piter.tv, said rubber bullets were also fired at journalists, as he was nearly hit by one.

OMON riot police officers stood in a line, preventing the radicals from entering the rally, but did nothing to stop the threats being made.

The anti-gay protesters, of whom there were more than 200, included Orthodox activists, nationalists and young men who resembled neo-Nazis or football hooligans. One young man, who held an offensive anti-gay sign, was wearing a scarf with the logo and name of the Young Guard, United Russia’s youth organization.

The first attack occurred soon after the rally began, when a man wearing a suit and tie and glasses discharged a pistol firing irritant fluid at a woman who was holding colored balloons, and then shot at a man who rushed to help her. A video on the Piter.tv web site shows him shooting at people and shouting “Sodomy is a deadly sin” as he was being led away by a police officer.

The police told the organizers to end the rally, which was scheduled to last from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., after about 30 minutes, arguing that officers would not be able to hold the crowd for long. Only two of the scheduled speakers had time to make speeches.

Releasing more than 500 colored balloons into the air, the 100-plus participants left the park by bus for safety reasons. Provided by the organizers and the police, three buses left unnoticed in the opposite direction to where the counter-demonstrators were. They took passengers to the offices of Coming Out, as well as to several faraway metro stations.

However, at about the same time, two other buses — which happened to be carrying Central Asian migrant workers — were driving past the site, and a group of about 60 young men and women ran after them shouting anti-gay insults, throwing stones and at least one smoke bomb at them until most of the windows were broken.

Apparently they did not realize who was inside until they caught up with them as the buses slowed down on the bridge over the Zhdanovka River. Discovering that the passengers were not LGBT activists, however, did not cause them to end their attack.

As the second bus stopped, having apparently mounted the curb, the attackers started to climb through the broken windows in the rear of the bus and punch those inside while at least one delivered several blows through a side window.

As the attack continued, the bus passengers started to jump out from one of the front side windows and run away. The bus then managed to drive off as the attackers dispersed in the neighborhood.

The police watched from a distance and did not intervene.

According to LGBT activist Maria Yefremenkova, a young man and woman who were late for the rally were attacked by the same people afterwards as they were walking toward Petrovsky Park wearing rainbow paraphernalia.

On Friday, the police spokesman said that the police had failed to find any of the victims of the attacks on the buses.

“The bus is owned by one of the city’s enterprises, it was carrying the enterprise’s workers,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

“The owner declined to file a report due to the insignificance of the damages.”

The attacks went unreported on the police’s web site, where the May 17 bulletin included incidents such as a pickpocket being caught on a tram and two attempts to sell alcohol without a license.

A probe has however been ordered by the St. Petersburg police chief to investigate the actions of the police during the event, the police spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

The man who discharged the pistol firing irritant fluid has reportedly been charged with hooliganism and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

There has been no reaction from the city authorities, although the city’s new ombudsman, Alexander Shishlov, released a statement Friday urging the police to find the organizers and participants of the attacks and instigate criminal proceedings against them.

The demo was supposed to be the first authorized LGBT rights event since the St. Petersburg law banning “the promotion of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism to minors” came into force in March.

Photos courtesy of Sergey Chernov and Ridus.ru.

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Pyotr Prinyov: “If you want to spit on your future, spit on a migrant worker”

anticapitalist.ru

Pyotr Prinyov: “If you want to spit on your future, spit on a migrant worker”

Pyotr Prinyov is one of the most prominent figures in the Petersburg protest movement. You can spot him at rallies held by workers and forest defenders, dormitory residents and students, and before regular union meetings you can catch him reading Martin Heidegger and Eugene Debs. Having started as a labor activist at the company MM Poligrafoformlenie Packaging, Pyotr is now deputy chair of the interregional trade union NovoProf and one of the leaders at the Center for Workers’ Mutual Aid.

— Pyotr, NovoProf is one of the few Russian trade unions that work with migrant workers. Your campaign in support of Petersburg janitors made a big splash. Tell us how it all began and what the situation is now.

— It all started when workers at Evrotrakt approached us and asked help in organizing a trade union local. Evrotrakt is a property management company that also does cosmetic building repairs in [Petersburg’s] Nevsky district. According to rumors, a certain bureaucrat launched this little firm, which was incorporated in the [Leningrad region] village of Gostilitsy. They say that a Petersburg deputy governor oversees the firm.

The trade union local was formed last winter. The situation there is quite difficult: we are dealing with the issues of wages and migrant workers living in the area where they work. When the janitors started to fight for [better] wages and a more or less acceptable workload, eight out of twenty union members were immediately dismissed. They were also evicted from the place where they were living, in a building slated for resettlement.

— You’re saying the building is unfit for habitation?

— Practically speaking, yes. Evrotrakt lures migrants by providing housing; plus, they make some arrangements with the local police or the Federal Migration Service. Apparently, Evrotrakt, which is quite greedy, decided to house migrants from Tajikistan in this building, which it has been contracted to renovate. And make money off them in the process. Around two hundred people live in the building, ten to twelve people to a flat. There is no running water, and often there is no electricity and heat, as was the case this winter. Just today, we talked with Sevara, one of the activists. They offered to let her an apartment in this building for twenty thousand rubles, although the local council owns the apartment.

— What sort of wages do the janitors make?

— They’re ridiculous. According to the employer, they amount to fifteen thousand rubles a month [approx. 375 euros], but the real wage is much lower. And they have an entire thriving system of penalties [for infringement of work rules] in place. There are months when the workers take home six or seven thousand rubles [approx. 150 to 175 euros] – and this for people living in Petersburg! People are basically starving. Some of them pick leaves from trees to brew “tea.” The workday lasts from dawn to dusk, and they are forced to work on weekends. And they are constantly being conned when it comes to registration [with the Federal Migration Service] and work invitations.

— How are they conned?

— [Employers] use shady firms that ostensibly do the paperwork for the migrant workers, but really just fleece them of ten thousand rubles each [approx. 250 euros]. Then, when their documents are checked [by police or migration officials], it turns out they are fake. People disappear, and new ones arrive to take their place. Migrants are an easy target for law enforcement, and this is beneficial to employers. It is quite easy to force migrants to work a lot and for free or to get rid of undesirables. Especially if you have the right connections.

— Is the situation like this only at Evrotrakt?

— No, this is a quite typical situation. Two busloads of Tajiks are loaded up and taken to a construction site. The first week, they are give ramen noodles to eat; the second, they get nothing. And then they are told, “Beat it! We’re not going pay you. Be grateful we gave you back your passports.”

In fact, this is slavery, but no one pays any mind. Any law enforcement agency needs facts that are backed up by paperwork. But what sort of paperwork could there be in this case? You have to go to the work sites and actually check out what is going on.

— Does corruption play a big role in this business?

— Evrotrakt has close ties with law enforcement agencies, and with the prosecutor’s office. When the migrants filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office, the owner of the firm, apparently imagining he was the Lord God, rang up our janitors and said, “Why are you complaining about me? I have everything under control. You won’t get anywhere.”

The previous company, Lyuks-servis, which Evrotrakt squeezed from the market, was also not known for its philanthropy. Thanks to Memorial [Anti-Discrimination Center], they were fined one and a half million rubles [approx. 38,000 euros] for employing illegal aliens. But Evrotrakt is still fighting this [outcome]. For some reason, the authorities are turning a blind eye. We’ve already taken one case, asking for the fired workers to be reinstated, to court. This is the first step.

—  Does the firm work under a government contract?

— Not under a government contract, but through the tender system. Because they work cheaply, they win bids [for provision of services]. And they work cheaply because they don’t pay wages to their workers, and when they do pay them, it is only enough to buy ramen noodles, which the workers have to wash down with water from the Neva River.

All this is beneficial for the city authorities since they have a workforce they can use to clean the city cheaply.

— But not very efficiently, as the past winters have shown.

— Who cares about efficiency these days? It is easier to hire several thousand Uzbeks than to purchase decent snow removal equipment. Because you can use those Uzbeks to write off a payroll bill that would be enough for them to live on, socially adapt and get job skills. But why pay them when you can just steal the money?

— How do migrants end up in Russia? Is it a spontaneous process, or is it organized?

—  The workers who come here have already been hyped into thinking they will have a place to live, a job and money. Special runners are sent to recruit this workforce. Most of the people who turn to us are from Tajikistan, where things are the worst in terms of social benefits, wages and hope for the future. There are also lots of people coming from Uzbekistan. As a rule, these are people from rural areas who sign up for a job whatever the pay just to be able to leave. It is not just families that come here, but entire villages. The population there has been reduced to total poverty. But on the other hand, we should realize that these are active people, people willing to pick up stakes in one place and move to another country.

—  How well do the migrants know Russian?

—  In our trade union local [for janitors], only three people speak Russian. This is one of the reasons why exploitation of migrants is so advantageous. Tajiks and Uzbeks will not go and file a complaint, simply because they cannot speak Russian. In the slave-trading states they come from, Russian is a nearly forgotten language: it is not taught [in schools] at all. The employer communicates with workers through so-called foremen, who are paid a bit more and have managerial ambitions. A “foreman” of this sort can pocket a portion of the payroll, thus bypassing the boss.

— There have been repeated attempts to create trade unions for migrant workers, but they failed. How do you view the work of organizing foreign workers?

— I see a great future here, but there is one “but.” It should not be a trade union of migrant workers, but a trade union that defends the interests of workers whether they are migrant workers or not. Migrant workers must be included in existing trade union organizations. The trade unions themselves must do this in order to obtain normal industry-wide pay rates for labor and develop their trades normally, rather than relegating them to the level of menials, as we see, for example, in the case of roofers.

At NovoProf, we are now developing a whole program for working with immigrants. Our union basically covers the food industry, one of those sectors where foreign workers are employed. We want to involve migrant workers in the trade union struggle. Otherwise, sooner or later spontaneous riots will kick off, which will scare the local population and play into the hands of nationalists.

— It is argued that migrant workers are an evil, because they take jobs away from Russians. What do you think?

— This is nonsense! The people who make this argument pay no attention to the job market or what is happening around them. Migrants are mostly employed as unskilled laborers, unlike Russians, who usually do not aspire to work as janitors and construction workers. What, if we up and closed the borders right now, the Sukhorukovs and Bondariks [well-known local nationalists] would rush off to work on a construction site or go clean courtyards?

— Why, then, is the topic of migrant workers nowadays such a red flag for many people, including workers?

— These workers do not realize that if you just remove the migrant workers, the niche for slave labor and semi-slave labor will not go away. Our own fellow citizens will fill it. So, if you want to spit on your future, spit on a migrant worker.

Unfortunately, our society has lost the culture of internationalism that existed in Soviet times. I remember very well the attitude to people from other republics in the Kursk region, in the village where I grew up. A lot of families from the south came to our village when the Soviet Union collapsed and the bloodbath began. They were seen as perfectly decent people.

People do not realize that there is this whole policy to ensure that workers fear workers just like themselves who have come from another country. While workers are busy fighting fellow workers across ethnic lines, they are not fighting their immediate exploiters.

It is not profitable for employers to create decent social head starts for the younger generation, so that people not only achieve a certain level of consumption, but also have the opportunity to realize themselves. I guess as long as capitalism exists, this will always be the case. Because it is much more complicated to extract profit from a literate, educated person.

May 21, 2012 — Russian Socialist Movement

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Russia, The Land of Opportunity: A Migrant Labor Board Game

Russia, The Land of Opportunity board game is a means of talking about the possible ways that the destinies of the millions of immigrants who come annually to the Russian Federation from the former Soviet Central Asian republics to earn money play out.

Our goal is to give players the chance to live in the shoes of a foreign worker, to feel all the risks and opportunities, to understand the play between luck and personal responsibility, and thus answer the accusatory questions often addressed to immigrants – for example, “Why do they work illegally? Why do they agree to such conditions?”

On the other hand, only by describing the labyrinth of rules, deceptions, bureaucratic obstacles and traps that constitute labor migration in today’s Russia can we get an overall picture of how one can operate within this scheme and what in it needs to be changed. We would like most of all for this game to serve as a historical document.

Olga Zhitlina

You can download a .pdf file of the game here: Russia, Land of Opportunity Board Game

Russia, The Land of Opportunity: A Migrant Labor Board Game

The game is designed for adults and children of secondary school age.

From 2 to 6 players

The characters, situations, and monetary amounts (fines, payments, bribes, etc.) are not fictional. Any resemblance to actual events is not coincidental. Each year, thousands of people are victimized by the system outlined here.

Rules

To play you need dice, counters, paper and pens.

The dice should have two sets of numbers from 1 to 3. If you have regular dice numbered 1 to 6, and you roll a 4, 5 or 6, subtract three from the number you have rolled.

Instead of counters, you can use any small object – coins, SIM cards or buttons.

Have paper and a pen handy to write down your income and expenses.

Spaces and Moving around the Board

Each space represents one move.

The diamond-shaped spaces are required. You must pass through them in the direction indicated by the arrows.

The square- and rectangular-shaped spaces are playable. You move around the board by throwing a die: the number you roll determines the number of spaces you move forward. If the number you roll is greater than the number of playable spaces in front of you, you must go to the next required (diamond-shaped) space.

If there is a dice symbol in front of the space where you are located, roll a die and move along the arrow marked with the number that the corresponds to the number you have rolled.

If there is a circle symbol in front of you, you must yourself choose one of the spaces indicated by the arrows.

If you land on a space marked Police:

  • and you have a valid work permit, speak Russian, and know your rights, you are released and free to make your next move;
  • and you have a valid work permit, but you do not speak Russian, then you must skip one turn and pay 1,000 rubles;
  • and you have an invalid work permit, you skip one turn and pay 3,000 rubles;
  • and you have a fake entry/exit stamp in your passport, you must go to the space marked Prison.

If you land on a space marked FMS (Federal Migration Service) Raid:

  • and you have a valid work permit and speak Russian, you skip one turn;
  • and you have a valid work permit, but do not speak Russian, you skip one turn and pay 5,000 rubles;
  • and you have a fake work permit, you skip one turn and pay 5,000 rubles;
  • and you have a fake entry/exit stamp in your passport, you go to the space marked Prison.

Actors, Agencies, and Documents

Migration Card. A document confirming that the migrant (or foreigner traveler) has crossed the Russian Federation border. It is filled in, for example, on board an airplane or at an airport upon arrival. It is valid until the newly arrived migrant goes through the registration procedure.

Registration (notification of arrival). Migrants must register at their place of residence in the Russian Federation. Registration is valid for ninety days.

Work Permit. A document confirming that a migrant has the right to work for a specific legal entity in a particular job as stipulated by the foreign labor recruitment quota. By law, work permits can be issued only by the Federal Migration Service. A yearlong work permit entitles the migrant to obtain a residence permit for the entire period (and thus not have to exit and re-enter the country every ninety days).

Private Employment Agencies. The “services” provided by such agencies are widely advertised, for example, in the Tajik media. These agencies promise to provide migrants with all necessary documents and find them work in Russia. They are renowned for engaging in fraud, cheating migrants, and exposing them to the risk of ending up as virtual slaves or being overworked.

Foremen. (In Russian, “brigadiers.”) The foreman is the leader of a group of migrant workers. He or she is someone who has already been to Russia, or a friend or relative. The foreman handles the processing of documents, and finds and organizes work and housing for the migrants, for which services he or she takes a cut from the total income earned by the “brigade.”

Middlemen.  In Petersburg, there are a numerous semi-legal intermediary firms that offer migrant workers such services as processing of work permits and residence permits, and assistance in passing medical board exams. In reality, they often issue fake documents or simply take money for their services without providing any documents at all. While migrants wait for these documents, the residence registration period usually expires and they find themselves living in Russia illegally. However, sometimes these firms do arrange for legal work permits, which indicates that these firms have unofficial connections with the Federal Migration Service, the only government agency authorized to issue such documents. Ninety percent of migrants make use of the services of such intermediaries.

Outsourcing (Outstaffing) Companies. These are employment brokerage firms engaged in the hiring of foreign workers for lease to large companies (retail chains stores, petrol stations, etc.). Formally, these firms are the migrant worker’s legal employer and they pay him or her a wage from the commissions received from the real employer. As a result, the legal relationship between employer and employee is violated. This scheme allows large companies to evade taxes, save on social benefit payments, and exploit migrant workers by introducing a long working day (up to sixteen hours a day) with no sick leave and holidays, and a system of illegal fines (for imaginary “disciplinary” violations). Outsourcing companies dispose of the wages of thousands of people as they wish. It is typical for them to pay employees not every thirty days, but every forty-five days. The amount of back wages they owe to workers constantly grows, and it is not paid out when workers are dismissed.

Diasporas.  Fraternal associations of people from the same region, country or ethnic group. Diaspora leaders may offer mediation services for a fee.

Human Rights Groups. These organizations offer pro bono legal assistance to migrants and monitor the human rights situation in general.

Migrant Detention Centers. Special facilities for persons subject to expulsion or deportation from the Russian Federation due to loss of identity documents. Migrants can be held in such facilities for up to a year.

“Legal Services.” A form of corruption practiced by Interior Ministry (police) and Federal Migration Service officials on migrants awaiting expulsion or deportation. For a certain “fee” (that is, a bribe ranging from 30,000 to 70,000 rubles), corrupt officials offer to simply release the migrants or the chance to “appeal” the decision to expel them.

Russia, The Land of Opportunity board game was designed by:
Andrei Yakimov (human rights consultant, concept development)
Olga Zhitlina (idea, concept development)
Alexander Lyakh, Galina Zhitlina (board game design)
David Ter-Oganyan (drawings)
Tatyana Alexandrova, Nadezhda Voskresenskaya (graphic design)

_____

Olga Zhitlina and Andrei Yakimov (Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, Saint Petersburg) will present Russia, The Land of Opportunity, discuss the realities behind the game, and play with all comers at Cafe-Club Artek (Mokhovaya ul., 27/29) in Petersburg tonight at 8:00 p.m. The evening will also include a screening of two videos by the Factory of Found Clothes (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya aka Gluklya and Olga Egorova aka Tsaplya), Utopian Unemployment Union No. 1 and Utopian Unemployment Union No. 3, both of which involve contemporary dancers and migrant workers.

The evening is part of the series of actions around the world coordinated by Immigrant Movement International, Queens Museum of Art, and Creative Time in New York to mark December 18, International Migrants Day.

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Me-gration (Moscow) // “Conspiracy” (Olga Zhitlina)

Me-gration

A video presentation and roundtable discussion (“How to Work with Migrants? Ethics and the Politics of the Image”)

Olga Chernysheva, Ekaterina Lazareva, Haim Sokol, Olga Zhitlina, and Chto Delat

with Activist Film Studio 

December 18, 2011, 2:00 PM 

Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center

Ul. Zemlyanoy Val, 57, Str. 6

Moscow, Russia, 105120

The participants will present their works dealing with the theme of migration and human rights in today’s Russia, and discuss ethnic and political aspects of their engagement. The title Me-gration contains an intended error, alluding to the pronunciation of the word “migration” common to both native Russian speakers and the country’s multilingual population. It also emphasizes the artists’ personal relation to the issue and migrant status of some of them.

The organizers state:

We artists usually work with images. Should we leave the territory of visual arts and cross into politics? Can we make images become political tools? We do not have much practical experience yet, as Russian art has turned to the theme of migrant rights relatively recently. The artists who have started raising this issue—Alexey Kallima, Irina Korina, Olga Chernysheva, and the Chto Delat collective—were recently joined by a younger generation: Sasha Auerbach, Ekaterina Lazareva, Vika Lomasko, Haim Sokol, and Olga Zhitlina. 

Migration issues seem to be yet another territory of life that art is trying to seize. Migrants receive an entry visa into the art world only as a labor force, or as the Other, having to undergo aesthetic disinfection first. But, we ask, perhaps it is time to unlock the bunkers of galleries and museums and come out to face reality? It is especially important now, when Russia’s political situation is so threatening: the recent nationalist riots on Manezh Square in Moscow, the so-called Russian Marches with thousands of supporters, politicians’ calls to “vote for Russians,” and official statements of Russia’s Ministry of Health authorities on “hygiene politics” all contain echoes of the Warsaw Ghetto. 

We are joining Immigrant Movement International, led by Tania Bruguera, in solidarity with December 18, International Migrants Day. For us, this is a first step toward bringing our collective efforts together. We are artists, cultural critics, activists, representatives of migrant organizations in Moscow, and all those who care about the issue.

Me-gration is organized by the Moscow-based artists Ekaterina Lazareva and Haim Sokol in parallel with the exhibition Haim Sokol: Barter at PROEKT_FABRIKA, December 15—25, 2011.

Me-gration is part of the December 18th International Migrants Day Action:

http://immigrant-movement.us/december18/

Both events are concurrent with December 18, International Migrants Day, a project launched by Immigrant Movement International, Queens Museum of Art, and Creative Time in New York.

Contact: Anya Pantuyeva, me.gration@gmail.com

Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center: http://www.sakharov-center.ru/ 

Free and open to the public. 

Participating Artists and Works 

Olga Chernysheva is one of the first artists in Russia who turned to the image of migrant worker, for example, in her photographic series Highway Number 8 (2007) featuring workers from Central Asia, and in her recent film, Garbage Man (2011).

Ekaterina Lazareva in her video Migrants (2011) deals with migration but incorporates lyrical and poetic components in her work. She structured her video shown in this project using the soundtrack from a popular French film, Le Peuple Migrateur.

Haim Sokol’s video Oath of Loyalty (2011) problematizes the interaction between artist and migrant worker: workers swear an oath of loyalty on the “Bible of the avant-garde,” Kazimir Malevich’s Manifesto, without understanding their act and remaining a labor force to be used by the artist.

Olga Zhitlina’s recorded performance Conspiracy (2011) stages an exchange of clothes between migrants and local youth in Saint Petersburg.

The Chto Delat collective, in collaboration with Activist Film Studio, will present “The Voice of Power” episode from their film Russian Sounds (2011). The artists create an image of Russian politicians that is simultaneously grotesque and naturalistic.

_____

For those readers not able to attend tomorrow’s event in Moscow, here is a brief sneak preview Olga Zhitlina’s Conspiracy, a performance presented in the garden of the Anna Akhmatova Museum this past summer in Petersburg.

Recently, a new trend has emerged in St. Petersburg. In the morning, young men wearing the latest fashions, mostly natives of the town, members of the creative professions, meet with migrant workers at secret locations. They swap clothes with each other and then part ways, each going about his own business. Every day, their ranks are growing.

Initially, this idea arose in response to the threat of nationalist attacks, flagrant racism and the corruption of police officers who check documents ten times a day to extort bribes from migrants, who are often poorly informed of their rights. The young men dress in each other’s clothes in order to scramble the visual codes that make it easy to tell “Russians” from “non-Russians,” “locals” from “newcomers,” and “workers” from “intellectuals.”

By dressing in worker’s clothes, the members of what is now customarily called the creative class reject the enunciation of their identity through consumption and declare their intention to produce a culture without class and racial divisions, thus overcoming the opposition between creative and physical labor.
This is something like a tacit conspiracy among migrant workers and designers, artists, and ad agency employees — the people who produce visual culture (fashion, brands, labels — the window dressing of our reality) — against this system of organizing the environment. Those who produce design — this powerful tool for labeling and dividing — who devise the shape of buildings, objects, and clothes, have decided to steal it and use it in common with those engaged in the material realization of all these projects.

These clothes swaps began in one district of Petersburg, but they have quickly spread throughout the city. If there is no such group in your neighborhood yet, no one is stopping from you from organizing one yourself.

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Artists Challenge the “True Finns”

www.kunstkritikk.com
December 9, 2011
Challenging the Finns
By Taru Elfving

Fatmir Mustafa-Carlo, Muharremi, Muharremi, Xhaferi, Bajrushi, Xhyla, Shkurija, Hava, Nurije, Halimja, Rifadija, Faiki, Bashkimi, Besijana, Fatlumja, Marigiona, Zarifja, Valbona, Shpresa, Kujtesa, Enesi, Altina, Endriti, Olsa and Lejana, 2011

Birdhouses modeled after European detention centers for asylum seekers by Otto Karvonen. A large photographic portrait of his extensive Kosovan family displayed in the busy heart of Helsinki by Fatmir Mustafa-Carlo. A refugee camp set up at the city centre as a live action game by Johanna Raekallio, JP Kaljonen and Haidi Motola.

These artists’ projects were powerful and urgently needed contributions to the public debate in Finland this Autumn following the parliamentary elections that shook the country in April 2011. The right-wing populist party The True Finns hijacked media attention. Their election programme posited culture as the first main topic, before social welfare, EU, taxation etc. They demanded an end to the public funding of “postmodern fake art”: art should be supporting national identity. Finnish intellectuals pointed out all the weaknesses in these arguments and laughed. The party then won by a landslide to become the third biggest party in the parliament with about 20% of the votes (up from 4% in the previous election).

Otto Karvonen, Birdhouse

How have the arts responded to this party, which recently changed its English name simply to The Finns, in line with their claim to represent the “people”? The election has been followed not so much by changes in arts funding but considerable toughening of the public discourse on immigration and multiculturalism. Research recently published in the main newspaper Helsingin Sanomat shows that people are aware of increasing racism, yet it seems that many do not recognize the racism underlying their own beliefs (14% admit to racist attitudes yet a whopping 29% agree at least partly that certain races do not fit into modern societies). Meanwhile Finland continues to have extremely low refugee quota and minimal immigration compared to most European nations.

Yet not many voices have been raised in the field of contemporary art here in Helsinki. In anticipation of the election, a large cross-disciplinary festival, Rappiotaide (“degenerate art”), and the Fake Finn Festival of experimental live art gathered a multitude of critical voices this spring. Since then the debate has been mainly in the hands of individual artists who have tackled issues of nationalism and multiculturalism for some time already, such as Kalle Hamm and Dzamil Kamanger, Minna Henriksson and Sezgin Boynik, Pekka Niskanen, and Ykon group, to name but a few.

Institutions may not be able to react with the same speed, yet the anti-immigration climate has been felt for some time now. The Photography Museum did act swiftly in response to the election, when it focused the profile of its project space on multiculturalism for the year 2012. The opening of the large recurring international exhibition ARS 2011 at the Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum coincided with the election and thus gained unanticipated political resonance with its focus on Africa. It offered myriad perspectives on the vast continent with an emphasis on the interwoven historical and contemporary migrations. Take, for example, the intense stare of the young man in Ghana amidst the landscape of burning electronic waste from the West in Pieter Hugo’s photographs and videos: Seen in this context the work echoed a famous Finnish national romantic painting of poor peasants burn-clearing. Viewers were thrown between the unequal distribution of global wealth today and Nordic post-colonial myths.

The haunting encounter may well deepen the understanding of our own implication in global economy and mobility. Yet why did this, or the topical discussions organised alongside the exhibition, not enter a wider public debate? Why is it that art here rarely does?

Kiasma’s URB11 festival, Dublin 2
Kiasma’s URB11 festival, Dublin 2

The most visible of the recent art projects addressing the immigration debate broke out of the limitations of the museum walls. The weekend-long live game Dublin 2, part of Kiasma’s URB11 festival programme in August, staged a refugee camp at the heart of Helsinki, next to a busy shopping mall. It allowed the participants and passers-by to deal with the day-to-day struggles of asylum seekers through role-play. The unease caused by the privilege of play laid bare the problems of information and identification both in activism and in art.

The game touched some of the same raw nerves as the emergence of Romanian Roma beggars on the streets in Helsinki during the past few years. This has led to an outcry and calls for a ban on begging in the city. It has also reinforced preconceptions against the Finnish Romas. Of the minority groups the Roma are, according to the above-mentioned study, facing the most negative attitudes. In October, Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) presented a project by the Serbian artist Vladan Jeremic, who has researched the topic across Europe and thus offered a wider perspective beyond the specificities of the local case. In a two-day seminar at the Ateneum Art Museum, Jeremic brought together policy makers, artists and activists to discuss not only the severe human rights issues concerning the Roma, but also innovative solutions for the problems facing all migrant workers in need of temporary social housing.

Kiasma’s URB11 festival, Dublin 2

The project by Jeremic emphasises how the question of Romas not merely concerns ethnicity but also reflects changes in contemporary global economic and political conditions. Art and its institutions are not untouched by these challenges, as was made clear by two lively public debates that coincided a couple of years ago: One had to do with the legal cases of a Russian and an Egyptian grandmother being sent back to their home countries despite the fact that their children lived in Finland and wished to take care of them here. According to Finnish law, grandparents are not part of the immediate family unit. This is in stark contrast to, for example, Mustafa-Carlo’s family portrait. The other case began to unfold, but quickly lost its poignancy, as an international applicant to the position of the museum director at Kiasma questioned the relevance of the museum in a newspaper interview. He did not stand a chance of getting a job interview since, according to the legislation, the director has to speak both of the nation’s official languages, Finnish and Swedish.

These two cases are interwoven in the paradoxical coexistence of the desire for internationalisation (in the arts and business alike) and the anxiety over multiculturalisation. This contradiction has been tangible also in the one-way model of the art export policies. Finnish artists are well supported to travel, but more in-depth and complex modes of exchange are needed, together with the recognition of the increasing multicultural presence in the arts and in the society at large. Otherwise the arts can hardly rise up to the challenge of the Finns.

Eero Järnefelt, Under the Yoke (Burning the brushwood), 1893
Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery, Central Art Archives / Hannu Aaltonen

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Global Action for International Migrants Day: Open Call for Submissions


Immigrant Movement International: Open Call For Submissions

Global Action for International Migrants Day on December 18

With Creative Time and Queens Museum of Art
www.immigrant-movement.us/december18
www.creativetime.org
www.queensmuseum.org

Immigrant Movement International (IM International), an ongoing project initiated by artist Tania Bruguera and co-presented by Creative Time and the Queens Museum of Art, today announced an open call for submissions for actions that will take place on December 18, 2011, designated “International Migrants Day” by the United Nations. The organizers call on artists, immigrants, activists, and interested members of the public to stage an action on December 18, 2011 at 2pm local time in recognition of the concept of transnational migrants as a “global class” united across continents and cultures by common political and social conditions, as well as by the human experience of being a migrant. By engaging participants across the globe in a UN-endorsed project, the organizers hope to promote understanding of the specificity of local migration issues and the political interconnectedness across nations and regions that migration engenders.

“As migration becomes a more central element of contemporary existence, the status and identity of those who live outside their place of origin starts to become defined not by sharing a common language, class, culture, or race, but instead by their condition as immigrants,” said Bruguera, whose project was initiated in Corona, Queens in January 2011.

Individuals and groups from around the world are invited to participate by visiting www.immigrant-movement.us/december18 and submitting an idea for an action—for example, a public performance, panel discussion, or community gathering—to take place on December 18 at 2pm local time. The website will enable users to track these actions as they happen in real time across the globe by presenting an interactive map of the world with a description of each action. Confirmed participants to date include: Pedro Reyes (Mexico City), Chto Delat (St. Petersburg), Ghana Think Tank (New York), Oliver Ressler and Martin Krenn (Vienna), Polibio Díaz (Santo Domingo), Monali Meher (Amsterdam), Situations + Nowhereisland (London), Dora García (Barcelona), Khaled Jarrar (Palestine), Mizuki Endo (Japan), Lauren Berlant (Chicago), Haim Sokol and Ekaterina Lazareva (Moscow), Vit Havranek and Tranzit (Prague), and Ruby Chishti (Pakistan), as well as artists in Rome, Copenhagen, Basel, Zagreb and other cities around the world.

“What does it mean to represent the contemporary immigrant? And furthermore, what are the forms of governance for a global citizenry? These questions are at the heart of Tania Bruguera’s Immigrant Movement International,” said Nato Thompson, Chief Curator of Creative Time.

In addition to mobilizing members of the global public to perform an action on December 18, IM International will also provide a “Migrant Manifesto,” which will be made available on the IM website for participants to incorporate into their actions on December 18. The document was produced by immigration academics, activists, politicians and community members at a weekend convening at the IM International headquarters on November 4th and 5th.

“Given the migrations that have brought 167 different languages to Queens, we are reminded every day of the contributions, sacrifices and experiences of our diverse group of friends, staff members, and visitors,” said Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director of the Queens Museum of Art. “We are particularly proud to be involved in a project related to the International Day of the Migrant, given the fact that the United Nations General Assembly met in our building in the late 1940s. That was a great moment for international exchange, as is a walk through almost any Queens community today.”

Additional information about the International Migrants Day/December 18 global action, as well as a downloadable PDF of the “Migrant Manifesto,” will be available throughout Fall 2011 at: www.immigrant-movement.us/december18.

Immigrant Movement International
108-59 Roosevelt Avenue
Queens,‎ NY‎ 11368
Phone: 718 424 6502
E-mail: united@immigrant-movement.us

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