Speak Out: Solidarity with People on the Move

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SPEAK OUT: SOLIDARITY WITH PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

There are many people and groups who support migrants and refugees. Hazel Healy looks at 3 groups:

solidarity-1260.jpg

A demonstration for solidarity, unity, dignity and rights for all. By Rasande Tyskar, under a Creative Commons License

FRANCE: THE GILETS NOIRS (BLACK VESTS)

‘Is it fair that Europe walks as it wants in Africa but not the opposite?’

Recently, migrants with no documents in France have started to demand citizenship (or ‘regularization’). They are similar to the group Sans Papiers (No Papers) before them. ‘We want to be as powerful as the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests),’ said Kanoute, one of the members.

The Gilets Noirs started in November 2018. They mostly come from Francophone Africa. They have occupied have Charles de Gaulle airport and the Pantheon. They could have been arrested and deported because this was very public. But Kanoute says it is more dangerous ‘to stay silent’ and be exploited.

They believe France needs to give them a legal home because of history. ‘All the countries of the “Third World” are directly or indirectly colonies of the West. So, everyone should be able to come.’

BELGIUM: CITIZEN PLATFORM

‘Once you help, you cannot close your eyes’

In summer 2016 there were hundreds of refugees camping in Maximilian Park, Brussels. At first, people who lived there helped them by taking people into their homes, making food, setting up classrooms and counselling services.

Then the police tried harder to get the refugees to leave, with attacks and physical violence. So the Citizen Platform started to defend them. They gave legal support and collected information about abuse. The Citizen Platform had 6000 people to call to protect the refugees from police raids. But members of the group were put on trial for ‘human smuggling’.

The group does not talk about ‘refugee rights’ and supports everyone. They simply want Belgium to be dignified.

TORONTO: SOLIDARITY CITY

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

In 2013, Toronto council became the first Canadian city to give access to all services to everyone – housing, health, education – even if they are illegal immigrants.

This is similar to but more extreme than ‘sanctuary cities’ in the US. These sanctuary cities protect residents with no documents by not asking too many questions about residency. The policy is ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’. Toronto is not a safe place for everyone. But migrant justice groups say the new title helps people fight to make it better. They are trying to make people feel they belong here, which is good for the future.

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: https://newint.org/features/2019/12/26/speak-out