A story of protest and resistance: l’union des sans papiers at the Eglise du Béguinage

This reportage created by Homam Daoud & Panagiota Theofilopoulou is called “Mais, on Résiste”. It presents testimonies of some of the undocumented workers who are occupying the “Eglise du Béguinage” in Brussels. They chose this way as a political protest since “this church shows the real image of welcoming the undocumented migrants and refugees”. They’re asking Sammy Mahdi, State Secretary for Asylum and Migration of Belgium, who called this occupation as a “blackmail” to visit them and grant them formal residency — or at least offer clearer criteria for the residency application process. 

There are people that have spent more than 15 years in Brussels, even born there, and they are still in an irregular situation. 

A 16-year-old occupant’s story reflects this reality: they left Morocco with his mother because she was being ill-treated by his father. In Brussels they couldn’t find a place to stay, his mother couldn’t find a job and they couldn’t find a school for him. Now “they are no longer living in fear of the father, but they are living in fear of the police”. 

While enduring harsh conditions in the church these people choose to stay, help each other, fight for their rights and demand dignity. 

Currently, for almost a month around 200 unregistered workers are on a hunger strike as part of the #political_occupation of the church since January 31st. Another 250 persons undergo the hunger strike at the #VUB and #ULB university campuses.

“Mais on résiste…”