Brussels: Occupying churches

About 150 illegals occupied a church in Anderlecht suburb of Brussels yesterday, with permission of the priest. They are conducting a two day hunger strike, but according to UDEP-Brussel (Union for people without papers) the protest may last longer. According to the church priest a dozen people stayed overnight in the church. UDEP-Brussel says the number of people depends on the available mattresses.

The illegals request to regularize their situation on the basis of a long-lasting connection with Belgium.

Forty people had occupied the Beguinage church in the center of Brussels this past Monday. The group consisted mostly of Iranians, Moroccans and Algerians, with quite a few women.

The group, which appeared unexpectedly, intended to stay several days but did not receive permission to do so. The priests generally supported the demonstration but wanted to work out the details. The illegals later left the church after agreeing with the priests and city council to come back March 17 and occupy the church for a month. On April 10 they intend to see whether to continue the protest.

The CSPL (Committee for People without Papers in Struggle), hopes more people will join the protest.

Abdeslam Elyacoubi of the CPSL hopes to pressure the government negotiators, not so much to regularize all illegals, but rather to set a policy that is not transparent and arbitrary.

The demonstrations are not limited to churches. About 50 illegals broke into the headquarters of the Socialist Party in Brussels this Wednesday. They've been conducting such protests for several weeks and like every Wednesday they created a 'circle of silence' accusing the government of its silence regarding their situation.

Sources: HLN 1, 2, 3; Brussel Nieuws (Dutch)

For pictures of the recent Valentine's day protest in Ghent, see Indymedia.

See also: Hunger strikes against deportation, Vatican supports Belgian illegal immigrants, Belgium: Illegal immigrant actions

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