Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 10:10:13 -0700
From: (Michael Novick)
Edited/Distributed by HURINet - The Human Rights Information Network
## author :
## date : 24.03.97

One year of struggle for the sans-papiers

From Coordination Nationale des ‘Sans-Papiers’ on the Antiracism-Eur-L list, 14 March 1997

National Coordination of ‘Sans-papiers’
22, rue Pajol, 75018 Paris, France
fax :++ (331) 46 07 16 19
E-mail :

MARCH 18th 1996–MARCH 18th 1997


Hommage to Saint Bernard

On March 18th, 1996, one year ago today, 300 foreign families took refuge in the Church of St. Ambroise in Paris, determined to stand together and bring their cause into the open. The struggle that we started then and continue to this day poses France some fundamental questions that have still not met with any substantial answer. Brutality, recourse to ruse, subterfuge and stalling have revealed their limitations in the violent eviction from the Church of St. Bernard and have brought no fundamental solution to an underlying crisis that highlights the incoherence of French State policy with regard to immigrant populations. For one year now, the sans-papiers (paperless undocumented migrants in France) have run the gamut of the State's panoply of repressive measures and have had to adopt original forms of struggle to enforce respect, thereby demonstrating responsibility, courage, determination and lucidity in their hard-won autonomy. The conditions of the struggle are hard, because, on the other side, the French government is not respecting any of the moral rules that have been the foundation of France's established reputation in the world. Everything has been used against us, from deportation campaigns unworthy of a democracy, using special chartered flights with people rounded up, drugged, stuck to their seats with adhesive tape and handcuffed, to detention under inhuman conditions next to dogs being trained. These procedures are unworthy of a democracy and reinforce the most xenophobic elements of public opinion, inciting these elements to demand even tougher measures against foreigners.

This treatment is in complete breach of individual human rights and international conventions. The victims are people who find themselves in illegal or irregular legal situations due to the actions of the French State itself, which has voted laws with the specific aim of stealing the fire (and votes) of the the extreme right. As a result, a regression of the rights of all people and of democracy is under way in France, due to the inability of those in positions of political power to answer the real concerns of the French people. The struggle of those who first sought refuge in the Church of St. Ambroise has opened the door to a vast movement in the struggle for dignity, sharing the same roots as the industrial action and protest movements of November-December 1995 and as the other struggles against restrictions of rights and against the trend towards systematic precariousness of employment and social conditions. Beyond the immediate objective of legitimate papers and permits for the sans-papiers, this movement raises the question of the free movement of people and highlights the problem of North-South relations in a context where ultra-liberalism is sweeping all before it, leaving only profit as the foundation of all strategy. The St Ambroise movement also shows us that the people from the countries of the South demand to be taken fully into account in a new social order that respects the fundamental values without which our societies would sink into barbarism. One year already, but the struggle goes on to obtain:


We urge you to send a letter of protest to the French government and to the president. A draft letter outlining our concerns follows.

Dear ....

We are very concerned about the way your government is treating the ‘Sans Papiers’ in France. Despite the actions they have taken which include life-threatening hunger strikes, numerous protests and demonstrations of solidarity, your government continues to refuse them the basic right to reside and work in France.

We admire their courage and determination. Despite their imprisonment, shameful deportations, general repression and harrassment, they continue to struggle for dignity and freedom. They are fighting for our freedom too.

We therefore demand:

Yours faithfully,

Send your protest urgently to:-
M. le Premier Ministre
58, rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris
fax:++ (331) 45 44 15 72

M. le President de la Republique
55, rue du fbg. St. Honore, 75008 Paris
fax: ++ (331) 47 42 24 65