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France : A national petition : we will protect them
by RESF Monday, Jun. 12, 2006 at 10:26 AM

The pause given to immigrant parents and students will end on June 30. Thousands of children, adolescents and their families risk mass deportation. Their lives and their future will end. We will not allow these infamies to be done in our name. Every one of us is ready to help, guide and protect in whatever way is possible. When they seek refuge, we will not close our doors but will give shelter and food ; we will not denounce them to the police. original in French : Pétition nationale : NOUS LES PRENONS SOUS NOTRE PROTECTION !

For thousands of children and young adults, spring term’s end won’t be the beginning of summer holidays but rather the beginning of a nightmare. The temporary respite - forced by public pressure - offered by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy for these "illegal immigrants" will end. Their deportations, suspended after widespread public outcry in elementary and high schools, will begin again.

Thousands of youths and children, with or without their parents, will play hide-and-seek during the school holidays, though this time it will be for real. Do the heavy boot steps outside the door belong to a policeman or the milkman ? Can one trust anyone in a uniform ? Will schoolmates, teachers and friends all disappear ? Being found out will put an end to the fun-and-games, finishing with a small role in a bleak police thriller. They will be arrested alone or together with their family, the parents will be mistreated ; detained 48 hours in a prison cell followed by two to four weeks in a dirty, noisy, violent and overcrowded prison center. The final scene in an airplane is a one-way trip to a country that they no longer - or never - knew, where neither the customs nor the language make any sense. Chains and leather straps more suited for wild animals will replace the usual safety belts.

Those deported will find little else than utter misery upon arrival ; homeless or else living in slums, jobless and with small hope of change. Asylum-seekers rejected in France risk horrible persecution upon arrival. They will end up paying - sometimes with their lives - for the reasons that drove them away in the first place and for having denounced their former torturers. There will be little or no hope of education for the children in countries where schooling is a luxury. This is the tragic secret hiding behind what the Interior Minister announces as a record number of deportations. Thousands of lives broken and sometimes ended under torture !

We will not stand by idly and watch the destruction of these children’s, adolescent’s and their parent’s lives. They are our students, friends of our students or our children. They study here, speak our language, share the same amusements and, sadly, carry a weight far heavier than their other friends. Should they decide, or for the youngest, should their parents decide, to change their destiny, we will help them as we have helped Rachel and Jonathan in Sens, Samuel in Pau and Ming and Wei-Ying in Evreux. And we will help those who have chosen to open their arms. If they seek refuge, we will not close our doors.

This, of course, violates current laws. But blind submission to unjust rules cannot be the example for the education that we give or the education that we owe our own children. Every one can remember times when, confronted with horrible injustices, it was necessary to choose. Avoiding these choices meant choosing to let the worst happen, and not only under the reign of dictators ! Imprisoned in Atlanta in 1955, should Rosa Parks have not violated the segregation laws because they had been "democratically" decided ? Should General Paris de la Bollardière, court-martialed after publicly denouncing the tortures inflicted by the French army in Algeria, have respected military discretion because France is a democracy ?

We will not allow these infamies to be done in our name.

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