Day 10 update – recovery after 3 more hospitalizations

23 05 2008

An update courtesy of our allies Jobs with Justice, who have done an amazing job of supporting the workers in DC and around the country:

I. Update

Today is Day Ten of the hunger strike. On Wednesday, six more of the Indian guestworkers from the Gulf Coast joined the hunger strike, pledging to push forward in their demand that they be granted continued presence in the U.S. so they can fight for justice in their case of human trafficking.

On the morning of May 21 Christopher Glory, one of the original five hunger strikers was hospitalized for dehydration; Thursday three more of the original five – Murugan Kandhasamy, Sony Sulekha, and Kauchuru Dhananjaya – were also hospitalized and given re-hydration fluids. Paul Konar remains on hunger strike on day 10 and is in good spirits. On Wednesday Mr. Konar was accompanied by other workers and allies in meetings to ask Congressional Representatives to take immediate action in support of the workers.

II. In India

The solidarity fast in India coordinated by Jobs with Justice and other Indian allies gained much media coverage in the Indian press. The 15 family members fasting were able to expose this first ever documented case of modern day licensed labor trafficking between US and India. They are calling on the Minister of Oversees Indian Affairs to intervene on behalf of their family members. So far the Indian Ambassador has met with the workers but taken no other public action to help move their case forward.

III. Call to Action

AROUND THE COUNTRY à The workers are asking allies to organize community delegations to go to local Congressional Offices to ask that Congress pressure the Department of Justice on behalf of the hunger strikers. The week of May 26-30 Congress is in recess, which means Representatives and Senators are in their home districts. This is a good opportunity to take delegations, hold actions, do call-in days, and demonstrate community support for the hunger strikers.

Talking points:

  • The guestworker program is undermining workers rights across the U.S.; for these workers it meant they were coerced into a modern-day human trafficking chain, and their debt and subhuman working conditions amounted to indentured servitude.
  • Despite their incredibly marginalized status, these workers organized to for better working conditions and faced heavy company retaliation.
  • If they are deported it will send the wrong message – they must be to be allowed to stay in the U.S. to show that guestworkers who organize for basic workers rights have a chance at fighting for justice in the U.S. This is why it is critical that the workers be granted continued presence.
  • Continued presence is a common status, often granted to trafficking victims.
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