The Amsterdam Treaty, june 1997
Knocking at the gate, june 1997
Rumania, preselection for the European Fortress
France, Human rights for 'sans-papiers'
Belgie, "He who keeps silent now must fear everything" Ratko Zamir
Human rights for 'sans-papiers'On September 28th actions took place in Brussels and Paris opposing the deportation of the 'sans-papiers' -people without a residence permit- by the French state.
On August 28th 1996 the Autonoom Centrum picketed the French Consulate in Amsterdam, in solidarity with the 'sans-papiers' who sought protection against their expulsion and, particularly, with the 300 'sans-papiers' of the brutally evicted St. Bernard church in Paris.
The picketline was also aimed against the Dutch expulsion-policy and -machinery in a larger European connection. Solidarity-actions were held in other European cities as well.
Brutal police-raid in churchThe French riot-police, in association with military forces, raided and evicted the St. Bernard church on August 23rd.
They broke the churchdoors open with axes and dragged the 300 'sans-papiers' out.
The refugees who had sought a haven of refuge in the church were detained with the intention to deport them as soon as possible. Four military airplanes stood by to perform the task.
In the end, only one of the 300 refugees was deported the same night, his wife and children remaining behind.
All the other refugees turned out to be non-expulsable, as they were still proceeding for legalisation.
Actions in European citiesOur picketline in Amsterdam and actions in other cities of Europe were closely connected to the international march the 'sans- papiers' held on August 28th in Paris.
Collectif des sans-papiers, Droits Devants!, Cimade and many other organisations walked from the Place de la R‚publique to the St. Bernard church- which couldn't be reached as the riot-police had closed off all the roads.
The same day, most of the 300 'sans-papiers' lost their court- cases for legalisation and, again, an airplane stood by to deport them to 'some African nation' -as the French government had secretly chartered a foreign airline company to carry out the job. Later on the same night it turned out that they had chartered Martinair from the Netherlands to deport Zaireans from Holland to Kinshasa, via Paris, -where some of the 'sans-papiers' were picked up as well.
Dutch-French-European-mass removal policy.
The French Aliens policy should not be regarded upon as seperate from that of the Dutch, or that of other partners in the European Union. The Dutch Aliens policy is based upon the refusing, controlling, registering, excluding, detaining and deporting of people, as is the French.
With the picketline in Amsterdam we also wanted to show some solidarity with the Dutch 'sans-papiers' -people without a residence permit-, as well as warn against the 'French brutality'.
Whereas the French deportation-machinery is truly brutal, the Dutch one comes in 'decent' laws like the Linking Act, an instrument of exclusion by which large groups of people are outlawed and made invisible.
Ten people out of the Parisian group of 300 'sans papiers' were already hungerstriking for 50 days when the police-raid took place on August 23rd.
After the events in the church these people were brought to the Theatre du Soleil to regain their strenght.
During their occupation of the St. Bernard church they were overpowered by the police and transported to hospital for a 'medical check-up'. The reason for doing so was intimidatory, an attempt by the government to break the hungerstrike. The French goverment, of course, didn't want to be held responsible for the deaths of ten hungerstrikers.... After the medical check-up all hungerstrikers were transferred back to the St. Bernard church.
Family reunificationRecently, the French government has made clear what Pasqua once meant by 'bringing immigration back to zero'.
In August 1993 a new law harshening the conditions for family reunification was introduced.
Now, the requirement of income and the conditions about suitable accomodation make it even more difficult for immigrants to reunite with their families.
Then, at family reunifications, all members of one family must officially reunite at exactly the same moment in time- reunification otherwise is no longer possible.
Entering the application-procedure is no longer possible on arrival in France- only at the French embassy in the country of origin. This 'extended arm contruction' is highly comparable to the planned re-introduction of the MVV-requirement in the Netherlands, the 'Authorisation of Temporary Residence' (MVV). The MVV-requirement has been put off for a while, but, as the Council of State advised positively on de Hoop Scheffer's MVV- proposal, re-introduction seems imminent.
The MVV-proposal states that a temporary residence-permit must be applied for at the Dutch embassy in the country of origin, if one wishes to stay longer than 3 months (the duration of a tourist-visum) in the Netherlands- for instance in order to apply for a residence permit.
'Sans-papiers' who have lived and worked for years in France, and who have contributed fully to the country's economy, are applying for residence- and working permits again and again.
Their requests are denied and answered with: deportation. Family reunification is prevented and immigrants are being separated from their relatives.
Immigrant-parents having children who were born in France are being deported, while their children remain behind -as one automatically gets the French nationality at birth in France. Then the children are being put under the guardianship of some sort of French child-protection organization.
The French authorities are taking completely arbitrary decisions, some immigrants are granted a residence permit, whilst others in the exact same situation, are told to leave the country at once. Among them are many so-called non-expulsable refugees -who are not granted permission to stay.
The French government has some more dictatorial measures up its sleeve; non-European visitors should hand over their return- tickets to the mayor of the town they want to stay- to get it back at their departure-day. Every guest must prove to have an income at his or her disposal that is equalling the French minimum-wage. And health-insurance is compulsory.
Local people who want to have a foreign 'guest' staying at their home must ask the mayor for permission first and let their houses be inspected by the authorities, who will only give their approval when they consider the accomodation 'suitable'.
People not obeying these rules will be ordered to leave the country a.s.a.p.
Out of the defensiveThe 'sans-papiers' are getting sick and tired of being pushed around like this by the French state, they no longer want to be called 'clandestine' and 'illegal aliens' and are trying to crawl out from the defensive.
They've lived in France for years and are appealing for their rights to political asylum, or to a residence permit on humanitarian grounds.
People are getting themselves organized all over the country; a National Collective of 'sans-papiers', consisting of 17 local groups of 'sans papiers' and supportive groups, is emerging. They're stating that France's true problems, like unemployment, poverty and exclusion, should be solved instead of always blaming the immigrants for the country's economic crisis.
The French state is responding by trying to split the organized 'sans-papiers' and the other immigrants, by granting some people a residence permit, while denying others, despite the fact that their circumstances might be identical.
This strenghtens the 'sans-papiers' even more in their struggle for residence permits and equal rights for all. Democratic organizations and trade-unions are joining the immigrants' struggle against the xenophobia and the racism of the French state.
In the spring of 1996 the 'sans-papiers' sought asylum against the French legislation. Both in churches and in the properties of non-religious organizations, in many major French cities such as Marseille, Toulouse, Lyon, Besanþon, Nancy, Nimes, Orl‚ans and Nantes, protection is found.
Many churches are being occupied, Church Fathers often not knowing how to react to it. In Paris, the St. Ambroise church was occupied by a group of 'sans-papiers'-Church Fathers reacted by asking the refugees to leave. Then the archbishop in charge of the St. Ambroise church allowed an eviction by police-force. Priests then wrote an open letter to the archbishop in which they express their concern about the churches being accessory to violence against refugees.
During a divine service at the St. Ambroise, the question was raised if the execution of Pasqua's laws is a task for the church? The churches' hypocrisy is openly criticised. The 'sans-papiers' asked Droits Devants!, SOS Racisme, Abb‚ Pierre and other organizations for help and sought a haven of refuge in public buildings such as the Japy gymnasium, theaters (Theatre du Soleil), trade unions and other places.
They ended up at the St. Bernard church, the priest of which did not co”perate with an eviction -this resulted in the brutal and bizarre police-raid directed by the French state on August 23rd. Early that morning all of the neighbourhood was closed off by the army plus a 1500 men strong riotpolice, metro-lines passing the St. Bernard church were blocked, lots of demonstrators expressing their solidarity with the refugees inside the church were badly beaten up by the riot-police.
Inside the church the black people were seperated from the white and refugees were dragged out of the place by force. Men were seperated from their families and then detained in the St. Vincennes prison near Paris.
Prime-minister Jupp‚ stated that the legislation was applied properly; the 'sans-papiers' must leave the country at once. A few days later mistakes in the legal work were found by hardworking lawyers and the 'sans-papiers' were released again. That's how properly the legislation was applied......
Mass solidarityMinister Debr‚ (Internal Affairs) acts as if he's speaking on behalf of all the French people when he stated, in the summer of 1996, that the Africans must leave the country immediately, preferably by charter-airplanes.
A lot of French people are getting fed up with his attitude, as well as with Chiracs statements to the public, saying that the French should 'show optimism' and a 'winner's mentality'. Add to that, that refugees have become organized on a national scale and they are being supported in their demands and actions by French human-right groups.
'Sans-papiers' and other organizations are calling upon civil servants not to co”perate with the expulsion-practices. Trade-unions also call up their members not to participate in the deportation-machinery.
Air company Air France and its personnel refuse to co”perate with the present deportations (but let's not forget that 'normally' they do co”perate with any deportation...) The French government just turns a blind eye to all of this and goes on in their attempts to get the National Front voters back on their side.
This has the effect of giving the 'sans-papiers' even greater public sympathy. Even celebrities express their concern. Directly after the raid in the St. Bernard church it turns out that half of the French population disagreed with it.
They warned against the effects of outlawing large groups of immigrants. And called upon the government not to constantly make immigrants the scapegoat of France's economic crisis. Also in Holland, more and more people are joining in the struggle against exclusion and for equal rights for immigrants. A large group of people is opposed to the so-called Linking Act, as they are seeing the effects that the outlawing of people will have in the long run.
Civil servants have the right and the possibility to refuse to co”perate with the enforcement of this Act.
Police-raids and charter-airplanesIn France, the raiding of neighbourhoods which have previously been closed off, are already part of the order of the day. People of colour are being bothered and arrested in the state's search for illegal aliens- which are to be expelled, of course. Since the summer of 1995 fifty large group-deportations took place in France.
Also in Holland people are getting arrested in the streets, in coffeeshops, in the workplace.
Not long ago large groups of Polish people were arrested and deported, they were working on farms in the Wieringerwerf. The same happened at so-called 'clean-up operations' in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, where lots of women working in bars and the sex- industry were arrested and deported.
People who can't show a residence permit are being taken away, arrested, emprisoned and deported.
Or they just get 'dumped' on the street after months in jail. On the national airport Schiphol charter-airplanes stand ready to deport refugees from all over the European union, if need be. On september '96 a European charter flew Zaireans from Germany, Holland and France back to Kinshasa.
Countries and regions are declared safe by the European union. Iran, Zaire, Somalia, Ethiopia and Angola are considered safe countries, refugees from there are all threatened with deportation. Fresh in our memory is tha failed charter- deportation of Somalians from Holland; at arrival in Somalia civil servants from the Dutch justice Department got attacked by an armed street gang.
So, what the Justice department calls 'safe' is really not safe at all- they will now have to reconsider their policy concerning Somalia.
Maybe it's time the Dutch state learned how NOT to act, by taking a close look to what our French neighbours are doing presently.
Both the French and the Dutch policy produce 'clandestine people'-who are thus forced into living an illegal existence.
People not having that one piece of paper, that one registration- number, are being left to the Great Nothing.
Such a policy is creating nomadic hordes of illegal aliens- together with other outlawed groups they are becoming the true paria's of the European continent.
At a certain moment in time, these people, like the French 'sans- papiers' will have to stand up for their rights.
Instead of the exclusion and detention of refugees as it's happening now, according to the Schengen-treaty, it's better to try and find true solutions for forced migration on a global scale.