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Taiwan World Convention 2022


Migrant Plight: Before, During and After Flight

Wednesday March 23, 1pm - 5.25pm (TWT)​


Katherine Langley 

York St John University, England 


Never Stare directly Into the Sun: A Practical Analysis of the Relevance of the Refugee Convention 1951

“The Refugee Convention as a practical tool is like the sun, we all know what it is, it shines over everything we do, but we never stare directly at it”. This quote from an immigration practitioner sets out perfectly the interplay between the Refugee Convention and practical immigration law within the UK. This presentation examines, and critically evaluates the reasons why the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention) may be considered unhelpful at a practice level by current immigration practitioners. Further, this paper looks at some of the barriers raised by the current immigration legal framework in the United Kingdom. A consistent and strong theme arising from the data suggests that immigration practitioners are climbing a mountain of legal framework to support their clients. Whilst this paper may highlight areas for amendment in the Convention, and potentially in domestic legislation, there is much evidence to show that international law and associated domestic policy remain a difficult thing to change. Therefore, as much as the Refugee Convention is drafted as a living instrument, and for the many commentators who believe that it is outdated, it is not likely to be amended or revoked in the near future.

Ana Filipe Neves 

University of Coimbra, Portugal


Analysing Refugees’ Flight from Persecution as a Determinant of Their Present Condition and Future Situation


Persecution and flight are the first elements to surface when it comes to conceptualising refugees. Combining both features allows an understanding of refugees as persons who flee from persecution, which in turn, is broadly understood as violence encompassing serious threats to life and/or human rights violations. Refugees leave their homes not because they want to, but because they have to. If their involuntary movement – across or within states’ borders – characterises them as forced migrants, by contrast, it helps to set a legal and interests-driven distinction between refugees and migrants, defined as those who willingly start their migration path. As such, voluntary migrants do not need international protection, while refugees do. And that is why and when refugees become a problem.  Based on this simplistic argument, a complex distinction, both in theory and practice, of refugees and migrants is superseded. Our aim is to recover the issue’s complexity, arguing that refugees and migrants do not reflect a clear dichotomy, but are part of a continuum in which the element of “flight from persecution” has a fundamental role because it reflects the conceptualisation of refugees as persons who have been subjected to such violence that there is no other alternative, but fleeing. Only through a comprehensive analysis of the reasons to leave and the situation on the move and after can a subject-driven perspective of these people’s – refugees and migrants – problems be attained, without compromising their entitlement to protection as human beings.


Rafia Kazim 

LN University, DBG, India


“Hum to naa ghar ke ghaat ke”- ‘we belong neither at home or work destination’-Understanding Migration from the Perspective of Migrants in India


Migrants’ lives are marked with hardships and uncertainties. Undergirding this precariousness is the sense of alienation that the migrants experience at the hands of hostile urbanites. For the urbanites who claim to be the legitimate citizens of the civil society, the migrants are the “anonymous other,” a demographic and empirical category of people who, though needed to clean houses and cities and to build roads, bridges, and shopping malls, remain unwelcome as a civic menace to the aesthetics of the urban landscape. It is this collective hostile antipathy of the state and its “legitimate citizens” that makes survival of the urban poor difficult even in normal times and that increases manifold during times of natural emergency. Living on the fringes of urban space as the “anonymous others” the migrant workers fail to develop a sense of belonging in the city. Migrant workers on account of their being the “anonymous other,” are nothing but faceless numbers to the state. Despite the hardships entailed in the entire process of migration, it is still considered a significant livelihood option in most parts of rural India. This aspect of migration has been well researched and documented. But the socio-psychological impact of migrant workers, mostly, and to their families, remains relatively less explored.

This presentation is an attempt, albeit in a limited manner, to understand migration not only as a process through the perspective of the migrants but, also as an inevitable rites-de passage of young prospective migrants in the Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. For this paper, intensive interviews of migrants who came back home post Lockdown 1.0 were conducted in their respective native places, i.e., villages in Eastern UP and in Southern Bihar. In addition to data generated from these interviews, I also did an analysis of the adages, proverbs and folklores’ content and history related to migrants and migration. By doing so it helped me understand better the complexities of migration, belongingness, alienation, dehumanisation and griveability through the oppositional binaries of des/pardes (native/alien), apne/paraye (our/their), hum/vo (we/other).


Roland Zarzycki 

Collegium Civitas, Poland


Modelling the Ideological Determinants of Aversion to Migrants

The radicalisation of discourse and public life in Poland is both an everyday experience, and an increasingly frequent subject of research. To an uninvolved observer, the narrative space of the extreme right may seem chaotic, irrational, and devoid of structure. In fact, however, under this bizarre and gibberish surface there is a recognisable ideological order anchored in the activities by several organised and institutionalised groups with their own press, prosaic and artistic works, media, social media, but above all human capital. We introduce the classification of right-wing ideologies and ideological fractions in Poland, and then analyse in detail the attitude of such extracted entities towards a variety of phenomena related to both economic and worldview aspects. The collected empirical material is then analysed with the use of techniques and methods taken from the field of social network analysis: precisely that of formal graph theory. To be specific, we create a graph of right-wing ideologies in Poland and examine its basic graph parameters, such as geodetic distances, centrality, and connectedness. Then, we interpret the model constructed in this way and treating the vector of variables describing the attitude towards migrants as dependent on other ideological motives, we recognise some of the ideological determinants of aversion to migrants. Importantly, the methodological approach adopted is easily replicable, which means that it can be successfully applied in other contexts, including other countries.

Magdalena El Ghamari

Collegium Civitas, Poland


Migrants in Europe During Covid 19. Stuck on the Poland-Belarus Border?

The pandemic has created unprecedented challenges, both in Europe and around the globe. The EU is working to show leadership and accountability by combining a coordinated and coherent pandemic response. It turns out that in Europe, there are areas not affected by this aid, becoming a conflict zone for groups coming from Africa, the Middle and Far East, as exemplified by Poland-Belarus border in Europe. The 2021 Belarus–European Union border crisis is a migrant crisis consisting of an influx of several tens of thousands of immigrants, primarily from Iraqi Kurdistan, with smaller groups hailing from elsewhere in Asia and from parts of Africa to Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland via those countries' borders with Belarus. The crisis was triggered by the severe deterioration in Belarus–European Union relations, following the 2020 Belarusian presidential election. The crisis began sometime around July 7, 2021, when Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko threatened to "flood" the EU with human traffickers, drug smugglers, and armed migrants. Later, Belarusian authorities and state-controlled tourist enterprises, together with some airlines operating in the Middle East, started promoting tours to Belarus by increasing the number of connections from the Middle East and giving those who bought them Belarusian visas, ostensibly for hunting purposes. Social media groups were additionally offering fraudulent advice on the rules of crossing the border to the prospective migrants, most of whom were trying to reach Germany. Despite the migration crisis of 2015 in Europe, the other routes are still active, according to which the number of illegal border crossings amounted to Eastern Land Borders with number of illegal border crossings in 2021 (January-October): Eastern Land Borders - 6 571; Western Balkan - 48 508; Eastern Mediterranean - 15 769; Central Mediterranean - 54 694; Western Mediterranean - 16 337 and; Western African - 16 710 migrants. Crucially for this presentation, and in the face of the pandemic and political stalemate, a group of migrants are now 'stuck' (Eurostat) on the Poland – Belarus border.


Cavidan Soykan 

Freelance Researcher, Turkey

A New Expulsion Regime: Turkey's Unlawful Removal of Refugees from Its Territory


In a vox pop interview recorded in Esenler neighbourhood of Istanbul on 17 October 2021, someone from public claimed that the Syrians are financially well off compared to the Turks and he cannot afford bananas while Syrian refugees can have kilos of them. Among the group there was a young Syrian woman who responded that ‘I am a student here. If there wasn't a war in Syria, we wouldn't have to be here...’ This video went viral in Turkey. As a form of protest many young Syrian refugees shared video clips of themselves having bananas on social media. Seven refugees who shared one of these videos on the Internet were apprehended and put into immigration detention. Ten days after this incident, the Directorate General of Migration Management of Turkey made a statement and announced that those ‘foreign nationals who performed the provocative action of eating bananas on social media’ would be deported. The number of Syrians in return centres rose to forty-five shortly afterwards. 


Since the 2016 failed coup attempt, Turkey’s asylum system has turned into an expulsion regime. The Syrian and the non-Syrian refugee populations in Turkey have been faced with the risk of legal or illegal removal from the Turkish territory based on (domestic or foreign) political interests of the ruling party, AKP. Turkey is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention as well as numerous UN Human Rights Treaties that ban refoulement. The banana case is not a one time only incident regarding the removal of Syrians. For instance, in 2019 more than 300,000 people were sent back to Syria under false pretences that the country was safe. That was the time for local elections in which AKP lost its long-term hegemony for Istanbul, the biggest city in Turkey. In this presentation, I will argue that due to the political and economic instability in the country, refugees are now used as an instrument and forced to leave for Syria by the AKP regime in order not to lose its twenty year long power in a possible snap election. 


Mei-Hua Chen 

National Sun Yat-Sen University, Taiwan


Same-Sex Sexual Migration: The Politics of Intersectionality of Same-Sex Marriage Migration.

Taiwan legalised same-sex marriage in 2019. As the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage, the government claimed that it signified Taiwan was a democratic country which protected the human rights of LGBTI+ individuals. Nonetheless, it constantly downplayed the fact that the majority of transnational gay and lesbian couples were excluded from the same-sex marriage act. The government only issued marriage certificates to transnational same-sex couples who both come from countries that legalise same-sex marriage. For example, Taiwanese gays and lesbians whose couples are from UK, US, Australia etc., are allowed to get married while those from China, Japan and the Southeastern Asian countries were, and still are, banned.


As the numbers of countries that legalise same-sex marriage are somewhat limited, the majority of translational same-sex couples in Taiwan are thus excluded from same-sex marriage. Therefore, they have to manage to survive in Taiwan with all kinds of short-term visas (mainly tourism visas and student visas) and even overstay their visas to keep the transnational relationships going. As a consequence, Taiwan’s border control appears to be the most contested of sites upon which transnational same-sex intimacies in Taiwan were/are shaped.


As Taiwan’s sovereignty is under-recognised across the globe, Taiwan tends to tighten its border control to signify its sovereignty. Moreover, Taiwan’s border control is also deeply interwoven with nationality and global economic hierarchy (i.e. people from developed countries could enter without applying for a visa, while people from the third world countries are put under scrutiny).


To add to the problems, the political tension between China and Taiwan makes China a constant threat. Chinese people are neither classified as citizens nor foreigners. Chinese people, because of such, suffer the most from Taiwan’s border control. This presentation will draw on interview data with 20 transnational same-sex couples in the aim to analyse the ways in which Taiwan’s racialised and classed border prevents many transnational same-sex couples from entering into marriages. Moreover, the presentation will show how transnational same-sex couples make sense of moving to Taiwan, how they struggle to cross the border and how they mobilise numerous resources to stay in Taiwan and keep their transnational intimacies going.

Alice Coventry

Lumos Foundation, England


Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre: A Study of State Induced Atrocities Against Detained Migrants


Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre (YWRIC) is 60 miles north of London and holds approximately four hundred refugee women who are awaiting an asylum decision. High fences, with razor wire, encircle the building while surveillance cameras are profusely positioned in the compound. At least one police officer is on constant guard. The security inside includes fingerprints, full- body searches, metal detectors and questioning as constant protocol for inmates and visitors alike (Moghadam 2016). Indeed, this custodial environment amply reflected the recently revealed attitudes and actions of the security personnel inside. Extremely vulnerable women, for example, were treated like prisoners despite a dearth of evidence relating to their criminal behaviour. Moreover, like the situation in the prison service, the UK government employed the private firms of Serco (for security) and G4S (for healthcare) to administer and regulate the running of YWIRC. Structurally, it will be argued, this division of duties created an accountability gap from the outset. And, as a consequence, there was a lack of clarity over which contractor was responsible for what (Dunton 2016).

In the light of such a background, this presentation focuses on five key forms of criminality and immorality that has continued to be highly prevalent at YWIRC. Namely, it concentrates on the appalling healthcare provision, the detention of pregnant women, violence and sexual misconduct committed by staff, the need to detain vulnerable women at all and the breaching of Rule 35 which was supposed to ‘ensure that particularly vulnerable detainees are brought to the attention of those with direct responsibility for authorising, maintaining and reviewing detention’ (Medical Justice, 2015). In so doing, this address will show that all of these examples of wrongdoings accumulated to build a case that highlights the UK government’s fundamental involvement in the mistreatment of hundreds of women inside YWIRC.


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