Open Letter to Legco: the right to work

Post Date: Aug 7th, 2011 | Categories: Advocacy | COMMENT

Vision First is sponsoring an Open Letter to all Legco members, as well as community leaders, journalists and academia, pressing for refugees’ Right To Work. While this endeavour might be derided as Don Quixote jousting windmills, we believe that change is born of action and action stems from ideas pursued until they acquire momentum. This letter will only be read if accompanied by hundreds, if not thousands, of signatures. To gain support and broaden dissemination, we are posting both an English and French version and seek translations into the major languages spoken by refugees in HK. We will gather signatures at all the major meeting spots. If you believe in this cause and want to volunteer, please get in touch with us – thank you.

Version Française: Nous sommes des réfugiés vivant à Hong Kong

Urdu Version:

Sinhala Version:

Dear Sir or Madam,

We are refugees living in Hong Kong and we have a request that only the government of Hong Kong can help us with. We come from many different countries in Africa, the Middle-East and South East Asia. One thing unites us: our countries are often afflicted by war, brutality and political instability. And the reason we are here is not for an easier life or as ‘economic refugees’ but because we had no choice.  In all cases to stay in our home countries would have meant intolerable suffering or even death. We are now here in Hong Kong seeking local integration or a host country in which to eventually settle. Some of us have been here only a few weeks but some have been here for many years.

While Hong Kong has been good enough to allow us entry and refuge, we find that our daily lives remain very difficult. We cannot work. This means we cannot contribute to the society in which we find ourselves. Not being able to work, at any kind of work, means a loss of identity and self-respect, and the shame in not being productive. We are also not allowed to follow formal education (after age eighteen) to improve our language and skills to equip us for the present and the future.

We are grateful for the refuge Hong Kong has given us; but we implore the government for a little more assistance to prevent the damage to lives that being not allowed to work can bring.

With respect we would ask for a speedier way of processing asylum seekers.

And either:

– more financial support for us while we are here;
– greater help with housing rental and medical and dental expenses


– the permission to find work, even if it is only on a temporary basis

We hope Hong Kong can show humane treatment here for some of its most powerless people.
Any help would be most gratefully appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

(signatures attached)