Crane protests spreading over Brussels
A total of 30 asylum seekers on cranes are seeking for legal permits to stay in Belgium as of Monday evening.29 July 2008
BRUSSELS – More asylum seekers have joined in the cranes protest since Monday evening to demand for a legal permit to stay in Belgium.
A total of 30 asylum seekers have climbed up the cranes at four different building sites and are demanding their regularisation.
The biggest group of protesters picked a building site near the de Brouckère Square in central Brussels.
Most of the protesters had gone on hunger strike earlier and some have also started a thirst strike.
"For these people, this is the only way to obtain a legal permit to stay", says a support group of the Francophone Brussels university, Université Libre de Bruxelles.
Other crane protesters chose a site near the Schuman Square and a site near the Museum of Fine Arts.
Last week, key ministers went on holiday without reaching an accord on asylum matters.
The Francophone christian democrats of CDH and the Francophone socialists of PS are taking a more moderate stand towards asylum seekers, contrary to the Flemish coalition parties.
Last weekend, the Brussels Minister Benoît Cerexhe of CDH granted 39 immigrants a temporary residence permit. The illegals had started a hunger strike in a church in Vorst.
It is thought that the sans-papiers - people without a legal permit to stay in Belgium - now want to strike the iron while it's hot. At the same time, they want to keep the pressure on the federal government.
The protest actions could paralyse the building sites as from next week, when the summer holidays in the building sector are over. Contractors have already threatened to take legal action as they have to respect certain deadlines.
Meanwhile, Freddy Rosemont of the Asylum and Migration Department has said he will not negotiate with the crane protesters. "It's up to the police to deal with this."
[flandersnews.be / Expatica]
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