Asia-Pacific Dominican Justice Promoters Host Insightful Meeting on Trafficking and Migration

by Durstyne Farnan, OP

My first experience in Taiwan introduced me to the Asia-Pacific Dominican Justice Promoters, which included more than 50 justice promoters from New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines and India. It was culturally enriching and stretching, to say the least. The meeting was held October 16-20.

June Ross (Austrailia) and Josephine Taban, OP (Taiwan)

The theme of the meeting was “Trafficking, Migration and the Spirituality of Justice.” Many new perspectives were given on these topics and the scope of the region presented many challenges for this corner of the Dominican world.

A highlight for me was meeting a group of mail-order brides from the Philippines who are now married to Taiwanese men. Vicky Chang Coco, OP, and Gudelia Kabigting, OP, two sisters from the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies in the Philippines, work with these women. The sisters came to Taiwan at the invitation of Theodor Kucznierz, OP, who has been ministering in Taiwan for 48 years. He knew the mail-order brides needed assistance with integrating into the culture and specifically requested the help of the Remedy Sisters. Some of the greatest problems for the women are learning the Chinese language and cultural practices. After a year, the sisters won the trust of the women and now help other mail-order brides. The sisters also operate a learning center where the women participate in their Filipino heritage.

An outcome of the regional meeting is that the justice promoters issued the following statement:

Context: Fifty delegates of the Dominican Family representing 11 countries throughout the Asia Pacific region gathered at St. Dominic High School, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for the Seventh Asia Pacific Justice, Peace and Care of Creation Conference, October 16-20, 2006. Also present were the Socius for Asia Pacific, the International Co-Promoter for Justice, Peace and Care of Creation, the Asia Pacific Coordinator for Dominican Sisters International, and the Dominican Leadership Conference UN Representative. We wish to thank the Dominican Family of Taiwan for their gracious and generous hospitality.

Rosemary Kinne, OP (Australia), Mary Britt, OP (Australia), Eileen Gannon, OP (U.S.)

The three-fold conference theme included Migration, Trafficking and Justice and Peace Spirituality. Resource persons provided in-depth knowledge of their respective topics, many reporting graphic and heart-rending accounts of their ministry, particularly concerning migrants on the move and trafficking. Exposure visits to organizations associated with migrant and trafficking issues were insightful. Justice and peace spirituality within the major religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity) provided new and deeper understandings for the participants.

Declaration: We, the Dominican Family Justice, Peace and Care of Creation delegates within the Asia Pacific region, having reflected deeply on the themes of Migration, Trafficking, and Justice and Peace Spirituality, declare the following:

  1. We affirm the loving care and efforts of those sisters and brothers whose ministries are currently addressing issues associated with migrants, refugees, and trafficking in the Asia Pacific region.
  2. We condemn all forms of human rights violations, particularly human trafficking, and all forms of abuse and unequal treatment of women in the church and society. We especially condemn the abuse and commodification of women and girls for sexual and labor purposes.
  3. We stand in solidarity with the victims of human rights abuses, especially migrants and refugees and their families, and pledge our support as they act to regain human dignity.
  4. We strongly encourage support of organizations working with victims of human rights abuses, especially migrants and trafficked people.
  5. We alert our congregations, provinces and communities to human rights abuses in their own country, and urge appropriate actions to eliminate the underlying causes of such abuse.
  6. We recognize that in a spirituality of justice, “prayer and action for justice, contemplation and social transformation are all integral dimensions of Christian spirituality. Justice perfectly finds its place as an integral element of a holistic Christian spirituality.” (Conference address by Quirico Pedregosa, Jr, OP)
  7. We pledge our support for continuing interfaith dialogue and collaboration in joint actions of justice.
It will be important to network and collaborate among the Dominican Family in the Asia Pacific region wherever this would be mutually helpful to fulfill the declared actions.

October 20, 2006