Belgian police clears Begijnhofkerk of sans-papiers
11 August 2008
BELGIUM – The Brussels police ordered 300 asylum seekers and illegal immigrants to leave the Begijnhofkerk (Beguinage Church) in central Brussels on Saturday afternoon.
The priest of the Begijnhofkerk, Daniël Alliet, was the first to ask the so-called sans-papiers (people without legal documents to stay in Belgium) to leave the church.
The illegal immigrants staged a protest action to demand a legal permit to stay in the country but failed to organise the protest action properly, resulting in unhappiness among protesters.
"On Thursday night, there was no problem. But on Friday, things got out of hand. The protest action had not been prepared properly and was not being coordinated", explains Alliet.
"The protesters fell short of mattresses. They only had 180 for almost 300 people. This caused verbal and even physical aggression."
As there were no bathrooms, the situation soon became unbearable, which made the priest decide to have his church evacuated on Saturday.
Most asylum seekers left the church of their own free will. A group of 70 people refused to leave even after long negotiations with Alliet.
It was only then that police intervened. The last sans-papiers only left the church after police threatened to arrest them. If the immigrants are arrested, they will face the threat of being expelled.
[flandersnews.be / Expatica]
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