Bishops urge end to 'immoral' hunger strikes

7th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

7 July 2006, BRUSSELS — Belgian bishops have urged illegal immigrants to end their hunger strike protests being staged at various churches across the country.

7 July 2006

BRUSSELS — Belgian bishops have urged illegal immigrants to end their hunger strike protests being staged at various churches across the country.

The bishops also said if they refuse to end their hunger strike, the illegal immigrants should continue them elsewhere.

However, the bishops also advised parish communities against calling in police, unless there are serious health and safety risks.

The bishops expressed understanding that the illegal immigrants had opted to go on a hunger strike on the belief that their demands were not being heard.

"But, as we had earlier declared, we cannot endorse this form of protest. It is morally unacceptable that a person should place his life at threat in this way. And inciting others to so the same, is even less defendable," the bishops said.

There are an estimated 150 people currently on a hunger strike in Belgium, some of whom haven't eaten for 15 days. Most of the hunger strikers are situated in Wallonia.

Church sit-in protests and hunger strikes by illegal immigrants demanding residency have been waged since October 2005 at various locations across Belgium. Currently, protests are being staged at 41 locations.

And protestors with the group UDEP — which supports the demands of illegal immigrants — and the group Antwaarps Asiel demonstrated outside federal Parliament in Brussels on Thursday.

About 20 protestors symbolically gave their ID card in the Park of Brussels to the asylum seekers, news agency Belga reported.

Leader of the Flemish green party Groen! Vera Dua expressed her support for the asylum seekers in a speech.

The protest was planned to coincide with the Parliament vote on proposed reforms to the nation's asylums law. The protestors claim the plan represents a hardening of existing regulations.

Thursday's planned vote, however, was postponed until next week.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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