Belgium: CIRÉ statement on two suicides: A dark day for migrants and for Belgian migration policy - press statement of 3 April

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"Thursday 2 April 2015 will remain etched as a dark day. Two people who were refused the right of residence by Belgium killed themselves. Acting as spokespersons for many others, they send out a message to our humanity and recall - if it still needs to be demonstrated - the true cost of our migration policies.

Yesterday, two men who were refused the right to reside here by Belgium chose to take their lives. One set himself alight while the other hanged himself. These acts of despair as well as protest were carried out in two highly symbolic locations. The first was in the office for foreigners, the administration which executes an increasingly restrictive immigration policy. The second was in a detention centre, a place for the denial of freedom and of daily threats to foreigners' fundamental rights.

These two men's cries of distress, one of whom came from a country that is known for its insecurity, Guinea, and the other who had been in Belgium for 16 years, echo the distress of tens of thousands of migrants who do not have a right to reside in our country. They are people who have fled some harsh realities in a quest for a better life, and find themselves condemned here, either to extreme instability or to an unbearable return to where they came from.

CIRÉ replies with indignation to the State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken, who pretends that these acts were unconnected, observing that they are bound together, now more than ever. What connects them, are the conditions of rightlessness in which they found themselves and the blinkered policies from which these stem. It is high time for our authorities to recognise the link between their political choices and the distress that they substantially contribute to producing.

On the basis of the links between these two suicides and Belgian asylum and immigration policies that are as evident as they are unacceptable, CIRÉ demands, once again, that the government find the political courage to conceive migration from a different perspective than that of refusal and repression, and to dare to adopt an approach that is fairer, more humane, starting from:

- A real widening of the pathways to have access to legal residence in Belgium. Not just as a value and condition for the respect of everyone's fundamental rights, but also as a necessity, to respond to the realities of current "mobility", as well as to our society's needs on the economic, demographic, social and cultural levels alike.

- The inclusion in a legislative text of regularisation criteria that are both clear and permanent, which may enable to address humanitarian situations which the asylum procedures and legal migration routes have been unable to respond to.

- The abrogation of provisions which criminalise irregular residence, as well as an end to administrative detention and the abolition of detention centres; these are necessary measures to put an end to the scapegoating of foreigners and to restore a minimum of dignity to migrants.

In tribute to the two deceased and in support of their friends and family, as well as to restate their indignation, the sans-papiers collectives have organised a march on Tuesday 7 April in Brussels. CIRÉ will participate."

Press contact:
Caroline Intrand

[translation by Statewatch]

The original text by CIRÉ (Coordination et Initiatives pour les réfugiés et étrangers), in French, and "Journée noire pour les migrants et pour la politique migratoire belge - Communiqué de presse du 3 avril".

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