Multiplier event in Brussels

From the 18th to the 20th of June the JAMMIN project was in Brussels to disseminate Human Rights Education, the performance and videos made in the training.

The JAMMIN project is the daughter of the “Culture in a T-IN” youth exchange that took place in Molenbeek, Brussels 4 years ago. Short time after the terrorist attacks in Brussels Metro and during the peak of the Humanitarian crisis in Syria, 25 youngsters and youth workers gathered and performed theatre for inclusion in this deprived neighbourhood. The very special place that hosted our performances in 2017 had been the Church of Beguinage, a Catholic church in Brussels 1000 that is open and sensitive to all issues connected to Human Rights and Human Dignity. The big surprise was coming to know that the space that had hosted our youth empowerment attempt through Arts in 2017, was not empty in 2021. Since January 2021, a movement of non-regular migrants living in Belgium (*Sans-papiers) had started an occupation in order to claim for Citizenship Rights. The 23rd of May (during JAMMIN TC) they started a Hunger Strike inside the church. Two of the Belgium participants in the TC – Art Residency had made a video collecting testimonies during the first months of the occupation, and at the end of the shows in Galicia a small scene was included talking about this church and people’s struggle. Besides all difficulties, we had no doubt that a Multiplier Event should happen in Brussels and that performing inside the Beguinage was a must for this project. At the end, we not only agreed to bring our Human Rights Art to the church of Beguinage but to the 2 University campuses where the same claim for citizenship rights and hunger strike was also taking place, the French and Flemish speaking universities ULB and VUB.

Photo by Luka Van Royen

The presentations happened on the 19th of June. In the beginning, most of the seats were empty, and the 250 people locked in the church were remaining at their beds, tired after almost a month of hunger strike. At the end, the auditorium was full and still many people watched, got emotional and clapped from their mattresses. There was no debriefing planned, but open mingling and interaction among JAMMIN  participants and the many men and women fighting for citizenship rights. There were conversations, Moroccan tea, music with guitars and oud into the church and a very positive feeling: participants felt the usefulness of their job, the Sans-papiers felt solidarity and enjoyed the benefits of Arts as the play was speaking to them, about them and connected to their social and inner struggles.

Photo by Luka Van Royen

This same afternoon, the presentation in the ULB university was also moving. A smaller group is locked at the ULB cafeteria and they rarely receive as much attention as those locked in the Beguinage. Maybe that was a key factor to have had a much more cosy and friendly environment during the play. There were kids, families… and a lot of sense of humour. The action result was less political and much more human here. We all felt at home. The gratitude among the audience was enormous and the participants we all felt a bit overwhelmed enjoying so much tenderness in such a not-easy situation.

Photo by Luka Van Royen

The 20th of June, we took part in the commemoration of World Refugee Day in Ghent. Together with local NGOs and Ghent´s municipality there were several events in town. A main meeting point was the Bar Bricolage where people gathered in an inclusive environment and celebration lasted until late. We had agreed to perform at 13h. After a long trip to reach Ghent, we performed at midday and then mingled with the local crew. Some Syrian community in Ghent joined the group and made the moment special. There was joy and music and celebration. Since new people were coming to the spot, someone asked the participants to perform the play again, and they did it. Around 17h we performed for the last time in Belgium. It might have been the most special performance, since it came out of appreciation and joy, out of free will.

Photo by Luka Van Royen

In the evening some people remained longer in Ghent and accepted the invitation by a Syrian family to meet their place, some others moved back to Brussels and got ready for the trip on the next day.

When: 18-20 of June Where: Brussels and Ghent

* Who are the Sans-papiers?
Sans-papiers is a movement born to claim documents for migrants living in Belgium: there are people that have spent more than 15 years in Brussels, who are even born there, and they are still in an irregular situation. 
Not having the documents (les papiers) means not having health care reimbursement, a safety net when losing a job and the access to protection for gender-based violence.

You can support them by signing this petition 

For more information: 
L'union des sans papiers pour la Regularisation
Coordination des sans-papiers de Belgique
La Voix Des Sans Papiers Bruxelles