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Demonstrators reaffirm support for hunger-striking migrants

© Belga

Over 100 sympathisers staged a demonstration on Sunday afternoon outside the closed doors of the Béguinage Church in Brussels to show support for undocumented migrants on a hunger strike to press demands for the regularisation of their situation.

Fifty days into the hunger strike, the situation of the strikers is extremely critical, with no apparent solution in sight. This prompted various grassroot groups, solidarity movements, unions and people from various parts of the country to converge on the Church in a show of support.

The strikers began their protest on 23 May with the hope of obtaining the collective regularisation of their situation.

In various speeches, Sunday’s demonstrators stressed that people without official identity documents deserved regularization based on the lives they have lived in Belgium.

However, the Government has refused to budge.

In the meantime, the hunger strikers’ health has been deteriorating.

“They are showing post-traumatic symptoms, cognitive problems, and are becoming depressive,” said Ahmed, one of the movement’s coordinators. “If things continue like that and the Government does not want to come forward for us to end the impasse together, it can quickly become fatal.”

“We are not in conflict,” Ahmed added. “There are no winners or losers. We all win, including the Government, if they regularize them.”

L’Union des Sans-Papiers pour la Régularisation (USPR – Union of Undocumented Persons for Regularisation) had expressed satisfaction after negotiations with the Government last week. An in-depth discussion was held on the possibility of eliminating certain obstacles to the granting of a residence permit and on “exceptional circumstances” that could be invoked.

However, there has been no progress on the issue.

“They continue to speak of a case-by-case approach and individual files, but that leads to arbitrary decisions,” Ahmed said.

The Brussels Times