Air France union tries to block African expulsions (fwd)

Chegitz Guevara mluziett at
Fri Aug 30 21:44:35 MDT 1996

Marc, "the Chegitz," Luzietti
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
 (Adds protest marches, Africans taken to air base)
    PARIS, Aug 28 (Reuter) - Protests against France's tough immigration
policies flared again on Wednesday, spurred by rumours that the government
was about to fly out two planeloads of Africans.
    Several thousand people marched through Paris to support African
immigrants demanding residence permits and an Air France union said it
would try to prevent them from being expelled.
    The demonstrators, led by Communist Party leader Robert Hue, dissident
former bishop Jacques Gaillot and leading human rights activists, chanted:
``We all are children of immigrants.''
    The CFDT union said it had learned of a government request to charter
one of the state-owned airline's planes to fly illegal immigrants back to
Tunisia, Niger and Zaire. It described the plan as ``a fresh violation of
human rights.''
    CIMADE, an organisation looking after immigrants, said the government
was also planning an air force flight to Mali and Senegal later in the
    France 3 television said 15 Africans facing expulsion orders were
taken from a detention centre to Evreux air base north of Paris. An air
force plane from Evreux returned more than 50 immigrants to Mali, Senegal,
Zaire and Gabon last week.
    ``The CFDT's Air France branch is intervening immediately, at all
levels of Air France management, to prevent the airline's planes and staff
>from being used in such police operations,'' the union said in a
    Leading human rights activists, including Gaillot, urged pilots to
refuse to fly the deportees. ``We...solemnly ask you to uphold the dignity
of French aviation by refusing to be part of this ignominy,'' they said.
    Some 500 people protesting against the deportations marched through
the central city of Lyon and a further 400 demonstrated in the western
city of Rennes.
    The government's handling of the illegal immigration issue has become
a hot topic since police raided a Paris church last week and dragged out
some 300 Africans, 10 of whom had been on hunger strike.
    Four of the Africans were deported on a previously scheduled charter
flight at the weekend and 66 have received expulsion orders, some 20 of
which could legally be enforced at any time.
    Another 49 have been promised residence permits following a review of
their cases on humanitarian grounds.
    Human rights groups, labour unions and the left-wing opposition
branded last week's police raid as a human rights disaster. But the
far-right National Front accused the conservative government of being too
soft on immigration.
    Supporters of the Africans scheduled a march in Paris later on
Wednesday and the immigrants called for a demonstration on September 18 at
the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in eastern France.

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