100+ artists and thinkers take up the cause of hunger strikers
Share article:
Share article:

100+ artists and thinkers take up the cause of hunger strikers

The letter was signed by musician Peter Gabriel, among others. © Joi/Wikimedia

More than 100 artists, thinkers and prominent personalities have put their names to an open letter in support of the Brussels hunger strikers.

Around 400 undocumented migrants, known as sans-papiers because they lack the needed official papers to gain residency status, are now on the 50th day of a hunger strike, in the Beguinage church in central Brussels, and on the two campuses of the ULB and VUB universities.

The condition of the hunger strikers is now so grave that doctors warn they are now at the stage where the damage done to their bodies may be irreversible. And the day cannot be far off when the strike registers its first fatality.

Their bodies have burned all the sugars and fats and now they are consuming their own organs including the heart. The danger of death is real,” the letter published in De Morgen this morning states.

Related News

 

So far, the government, in the person of asylum minister Sammy Mahdi has refused outright their request for a blanket amnesty, allowing them to become bona fide refugees. Prime minister Alexander De Croo has given Mahdi his full and public support.

In the letter, the signatories describe the lives of a few of the hunger strikers, and how they have been mercilessly exploited by employers simply because as sans-papiers they have no recourse against wages of €3 an hour for heavy underground construction labour – on a public-funded project, moreover.

The letter explains how Belgium’s migration policy is preventing it from acceding to the hunger strikers’ demands, although those go no further than what is already the case in countries like France and Spain.

And the signatories are not mild in their judgement of the De Croo government.

The Belgian government – like a number of other European governments – is making a grave political mistake. It is paralysed by the rise of the far-right. It is trying to distance itself by invoking a ‘strict but humane’ migration policy,” the letter reads.

This means that they are using a watered-down version of the migration programme of far-right parties while using rhetoric that values human rights and international law.”

The letter concludes with a plea to the only party able now to make a move.

For all these reasons, we invite the Belgian Government to restart the dialogue with the hunger strikers and to consider their demands with the seriousness they deserve.”

The letter is signed by a variety of personalities, including film-makers Ken Loach, the Dardenne brothers, Mike Leigh, Costa Gavras and Aki Kaurismaki; actors Susan George and Irène Jacob; former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis; intellectual Noam Chomsky; musicians Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters and Brian Eno; jurist Françoise Tulkens; cartoonist Philippe Geluck; and fashion designer Agnès B.

Latest news

Consultative Committee will announce latest measures from 6:30 PM
The Consultative Committee will announce the latest changes to Belgium’s coronavirus restrictions in a press conference at 6:30 PM on Tuesday, ...
Belgium intends to activate the pandemic law, says Health Minister
"We intend to activate the pandemic law," Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke confirmed on Tuesday in the House committee, ahead of Tuesday's ...
Offers for fake Covid Safe Tickets circulating on social media
As the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) becomes mandatory in many places across Belgium, offers for forgeries are increasingly circulating on social media. ...
EU auditors: More worried about the future budget than about pervasive errors in the 2020 budget
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) have signed off the 2020 EU accounts as giving a true and fair view of the union’s financial position but like ...
Belgium aims to tackle sexual violence with video interrogations
The federal government is looking to tackle sexual violence and increase convictions connected to this crime by relying more heavily on video ...
Duvel celebrates 150th anniversary with special brew in commemorative bottle
Belgium’s Duvel Moortgat Brewery is celebrating its 150th anniversary with the release of a special brew in a commemorative bottle shaped like its ...
Pollution scandal: 3M to show emissions don’t pose risk or halt production
Flanders has ordered American company 3M, involved in a pollution scandal in Antwerp, to prove that emissions linked to its production activities do ...
The Netherlands fears a greater rise in sea levels than forecast
Sea levels could rise by up to two metres by 2100 on the Dutch coastline – far more than previously forecast – according to an announcement from the ...
The Smurfs return to Belgian TV with the first new show since 1989
A new Smurfs show is bringing the characters of Belgium's second-most-famous comic franchise back to the small screen with their first new series, 30 ...
On this day in Brussels: An entrepreneurial journey begins
The Rue Dansaert was just beginning to become trendy when Alain Coumont opened his first bakery here on 26 October 1990. He started by baking big ...
Almost half of Belgian subsidies from EU left unused
Belgium left almost half (49%) of its subsidies allocated by the European Union between 2013 and 2020 unused, the equivalent of around €1.375 ...
Visitors to embark on Orient Express adventure at Brussels exhibition
An exhibition dedicated to the Orient Express – the train that was the scene for many novels, including Agatha Christie's – allows visitors to ...