Hunger strike for undocumented migrants: the factory of the Beguinage church goes to justice to end the occupation

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A judgment is to be expected at the end of January, or even the beginning of February.

The occupation was initiated in January 2021 by the Undocumented Union for Regularization (USPR). Between the end of May and the end of July, the church was the nerve center of the hunger strike of more than 400 people, who demanded the establishment of regularization criteria for economic migrants present for many years in the territory. Today there are about twenty occupants who live there. Organizations are trying to find them accommodation.

Since the announcement of the decision to end the occupation, “calls are circulating on social networks to resume the occupation”, observes Karen Naessens, coordinator of La Maison de la Compassion. “After long actions, people are exhausted and those who had the energy to calm things down are no longer there. We realize that these periods are more particularly dangerous and that safety is no longer guaranteed. We do not have the resources of organizations like the Red Cross and we cannot have people there all the time to ensure that there is no conflict. This is why the church factory decided to go to justice of the peace. This does not mean that people will be deported directly, but that a justice of the peace will assess the situation ”.

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Damage linked to the occupation needs to be repaired. Electric cables have been damaged in particular during conflicts. The electricity was cut to avoid an incident.

“The end of the occupation does not in any way mean the end of our solidarity with the undocumented.” assures Father Daniel Alliët, who is behind the initiative of La Maison de la Compassion. “We will continue to defend the rights of undocumented migrants.”

Karen Naessens explains that undocumented people can continue to come to church during the day to organize their political struggle, but that it is no longer desirable that some continue to sleep there, especially since the building does not protect much from the cold in winter.

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