(Eng) on struggle of immigrant in France

Thu, 5 Sep 1996 15:45:15 +0200

Air France unions tries to block African expulsions

PARIS, Aug 28 (Reuter) - Protests against France's tough
immigration policies flared again on Wednesday, spurred by
rumours that the government was about to fly out two planeloads
of Africans.
Several thousand people marched through Paris to support
African immigrants demanding residence permits and an Air France
union said it would try to prevent them from being expelled.
The demonstrators, led by Communist Party leader Robert Hue,
dissident former bishop Jacques Gaillot and leading human rights
activists, chanted: ``We all are children of immigrants.''
The CFDT union said it had learned of a government request
to charter one of the state-owned airline's planes to fly
illegal immigrants back to Tunisia, Niger and Zaire. It
described the plan as ``a fresh violation of human rights.''
CIMADE, an organisation looking after immigrants, said the
government was also planning an air force flight to Mali and
Senegal later in the day.
France 3 television said 15 Africans facing expulsion orders
were taken from a detention centre to Evreux air base north of
Paris. An air force plane from Evreux returned more than 50
immigrants to Mali, Senegal, Zaire and Gabon last week.
``The CFDT's Air France branch is intervening immediately,
at all levels of Air France management, to prevent the airline's
planes and staff from being used in such police operations,''
the union said in a statement.
Leading human rights activists, including Gaillot, urged
pilots to refuse to fly the deportees. ``We...solemnly ask you
to uphold the dignity of French aviation by refusing to be part
of this ignominy,'' they said.
Some 500 people protesting against the deportations marched
through the central city of Lyon and a further 400 demonstrated
in the western city of Rennes.
The government's handling of the illegal immigration issue
has become a hot topic since police raided a Paris church last
week and dragged out some 300 Africans, 10 of whom had been on
hunger strike.
Four of the Africans were deported on a previously scheduled
charter flight at the weekend and 66 have received expulsion
orders, some 20 of which could legally be enforced at any time.
Another 49 have been promised residence permits following a
review of their cases on humanitarian grounds.
Human rights groups, labour unions and the left-wing
opposition branded last week's police raid as a human rights
disaster. But the far-right National Front accused the
conservative government of being too soft on immigration.
Supporters of the Africans scheduled a march in Paris later
on Wednesday and the immigrants called for a demonstration on
September 18 at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in eastern

France maintains hard line, flies home 88 Africans

By Francois Raitberger

PARIS, Aug 29 (Reuter) - The French government stuck to a
hard line on illegal immigrants on Thursday, announcing that 88
deported Africans were flown home despite left-wing protests.
Two French planes flew home 88 immigrants overnight, 10 of
them expelled from the Netherlands, the Interior Ministry said.
This took to 25 the number of French deportation flights since
conservative Prime Minister Alain Juppe took over 15 months ago.
The planes left from an air force base at Evreux, west of
Paris, on Wednesday night. Unionists and human rights activists
had urged civilian pilots not to fly deportees amid a furore
over a police raid on a group of Africans in a church last week.
A wide-bodied air force Airbus A-310 flew home 35 Malians
and 11 Senegalese. A Boeing 737 of Air Charter, a subsidiary of
state-owned Air France, carried 12 Tunisians and 30 Zaireans,
including 10 from the Netherlands.
The Communist CGT and pro-Socialist CFDT unions called on
airlines not to lend their planes to the government and urged
airlines and airport staff to demonstrate at Paris' Charles de
Gaulle airport on Friday against ``flights of shame.''
``Airline personnel must not be turned into police
assistants,'' they said.
The daily Le Monde said France's immigration policy was
causing mounting concern in Africa, mainly in Mali and Senegal.
The flights took off as police said 11,000 protesters
marched through Paris against the expulsion orders in a
demonstration twice the size of a similar protest last week.
French handling of illegal immigration has taken centre
stage since police last week dragged out 300 African protesters,
10 of them on a hunger strike, who had been occupying a Paris
church for two months to demand residence permits.
Two protesters and two policemen were slightly injured in
clashes as some of the demonstrators tried to march on the
Saint-Bernard church, in the heavily immigrant Goutte d'Or
district, which has become a symbol of the protest.
Four of the church protesters were among 57 Africans
deported last week on a military aircraft. CIMADE, a group
looking after immigrants, said three more were on the latest
deportation flights. This was not confirmed by the ministry.
Lawyers for the Africans said two Malians flown home on
Thursday, Diagui and Mamadou Niakata, had left their wives and
children in France, although Interior Minister Jean-Louis Debre
had pledged not to break up families.
They appealed to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees on
behalf of Mauritanian Berke Camara, who is being held pending
expulsion and says he fears for his life if he is sent home.
Debre, buoyed by surveys saying that a majority of voters
backs 1993 laws to curb immigration, has pledged to enforce them
while reviewing individual cases on humanitarian grounds.
The Africans' spokesman Abubakar Diop called on centrist
former junior education minister Francoise Hostalier at the
National Assembly and said both agreed dialogue between the
government and the protesters should be resumed.
The opposition Socialists called the policy on immigration
``incoherent and brutal'' and said they were drafting proposals
to reform the law, including restoring the tradition that anyone
born on French soil automatically becomes a French citizen.
The 1993 laws say children born in France to foreigners only
become French if they request it after turning 16.
Debre's adviser on immigration Jean-Claude Barreau called
the Socialists' proposals ``suicidal demagoguery going against
their voters' beliefs.'' ``If someone tries to get in without a
ticket and gets caught, it is not abnormal that he be
expelled,'' he wrote in Le Monde.

Malian airport workers protest at ``flight of shame''

By Diadie Ba

DAKAR, Aug 29 (Reuter) - French troops had to be flown into
Mali on Thursday when protesting ground staff refused to service
a plane carrying Africans expelled from France, officials said.
The French army Airbus A310 carrying 11 Senegalese arrived
in Dakar after a stop in Bamako, where 35 Malians disembarked.
The officials said French soldiers flew to Mali from Senegal
to carry out refuelling and pre-flight checks on the plane,
dubbed a ``flight of shame'' like the one that brought home more
than 50 illegal immigrants last weekend.
A second plane landed in Tunis and refuelled in Niger
without problems before continuing to Zaire. It carried 12
Tunisians and 30 Zaireans -- 10 of them expelled from the
The government of Senegal, in its first comment on
expulsions of its nationals from France and Angola, said it was
in close contact with the governments of both countries.
``In this (Angolan) affair, as in the case of the Africans
without valid documents in Paris, the government of Senegal is
acting in close liaison with the other parties to the matter. It
is doing so according to the conventions and in line with the
rules established for international relations,'' a government
statement said.
Senegal's opposition and press have attacked the
government's lack of criticism of its former colonial ruler.
In Bamako, Sambourou Sow, a member of the High Council of
Malians Abroad, said three of the Malians on the plane had been
detained in a police raid on protesters at the Saint-Bernard
church in Paris on Friday.
One of the three, Mahamadou Niakate from Lambidou in the
western Djenne region, said his wife was still in Paris and he
did not know whether she would be aboard the next flight.
Sow said about 30 French soldiers had accompanied the
Last Saturday, France deported 23 Malians, four of them from
the church, along with 13 Senegalese, 18 Zaireans and two
Gabonese. Another 248 Senegalese have been deported from Angola
as part of a crackdown on foreign traders there.
Senegalese traders are found all over Africa and in Europe
and North America. Scores more are expected to be affected by
tougher rules for migrant workers announced by Sierra Leone on
Angola has thrown out hundreds of West Africans, Lebanese
and Indians since the start two weeks ago of a campaign against
foreign traders. President Abdou Diouf sent his minister of
state at the presidency, Abdoulaye Wade, to intercede with the
Angolan authorities.
French handling of the illegal immigration issue has taken
centre stage since the controversial police raid on 300 African
protesters, 10 of them on a hunger strike, who had occupied the
Saint-Bernard church for two months in a symbolic protest.
Thousands of demonstrators marched through Paris on
Wednesday to demand that expulsion orders be repealed and
immigration laws reviewed.
Reut09:31 08-29-96

French deportee plane refuels in Niger

NIAMEY, Aug 29 (Reuter) - A French charter plane carrying
illegal immigrants back to Africa made a refuelling stop in
Niger on Thursday before flying to Kinshasa with about 20
Zaireans on board, witnesses said.
No Nigeriens were on the plane, which made its first stop in
Tunis, where 12 Tunisians disembarked.
The Air Charter Boeing 737 refuelled and changed crew before
taking off at 7.20 a.m. (0620 GMT) for Kinshasa. It was expected
to return via Niamey on Thursday evening.
Witnesses said another plane, an Airbus A-310, left Paris on
Wednesday night for Mali and Senegal with 15 Africans aboard. A
French airforce Airbus flew 57 immigrants back to Mali, Senegal
and Zaire last weekend.
French handling of the illegal immigration issue has become
a hot topic since 300 African protesters, 10 of whom had been on
hunger strike, were dragged out of a Paris church in a
controversial police raid last week.
Thousands of demonstrators marched through Paris on
Wednesday to demand that expulsion orders be repealed and
immigration laws reviewed.
Several of the deported Tunisians said they had been illegal
immigrants in France for many years but others said their
residence permits were in order and that they were married to
French women and had children born in France.
``I have been living in France for 27 years and I have a
regular 10-year resident card. I am married to a French woman
and my three children are French citizens,'' said a 44-year-old
man who asked to be identified only by his initials H.B.
``I was to be freed from the prison of Grasse (in southern
France) within 15 days...I was not allowed to contact my wife,
who is a French Algerian-born citizen, nor my son, who is a
French citizen,'' Lamine Driss, 34, said.
A group of Tunisian human rights activists welcomed the
deportees at the airport.
``It is a shame for France to behave like that with
Africans, including Tunisians, who gave it too much,'' Hassib
ben Ammar, who received a United Nations Human Rights Award in
1993, told journalists at the airport.

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