France: Revolt in foreigners camps - dec 2007

In France, in 2 "centres de rétention" (one of the types of detention
centers for migrants, where they are before deportation) in Paris
region, a strong protest movement has been going on since Dec 20, 2007.
Migrants went on hunger strike to try to alert the opinion on
detention, which they characterize as "shameful and arbitrary".
Some of them have written a "cahier de doléances" (see below; the
term refer to lists of claims and complaints before the French
Revolution) where they point lack of hygiene, their feeling to be
"treated like cattle", "humiliating searches" etc... This document
has been sent to, among others, the consulates of their home countries.
It is the first time that a movement of this kind finds such an echo
in France: it is in the news of the major medias (newspapers, radio,
TV)). Take for example this extract of Dec 31 news on the channel with the
greatest audience
A demonstration in support to detained foreigners took place on Dec
31, 2007. Two others are announced in Paris on Jan 3 and 5, 2008. Associations
calling for these demonstrations also call for a mobilization against
the European "return directive" for foreigners in irregular situation,
which plans for up to 18-months detention. A petition against this
"outrageous directive"
has been launched at the beginning of Nov
2007, and has already gathered more than 20,000 signatures.

« Against humiliating acts »

Here are the main extracts of the letter sent by the foreigners
detained in the Mesnil-Amelot (Seine-et-Marne) "centre de rétention"
to the consuls of their home countries.

«Madam, Sir, (...) We are all detained for lack of legal papers,
which we do not deny. But (...) we would like to make you realize
that most of the people who will be repatriated with your
collaboration are in charge of families, work, pay taxes, while
financially helping the members of their families both in this
country and in their home country. We are sad to see that some passes
are easily granted, without taking into account the detainee
situation, and his/her opinion, all this leading to a brutal separation
of the families, with desastrous consequences (...).

We really trust you against the unjust and humiliating acts of the
French administration, which scorns human rights.

This is why, all nationalities taken into account, we have decided to
communicate to you our complaints.»