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A text by Nisse

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Appeal for the return

 

For Frank, for when he will have become a big street urchin.
For Semira, whose voice even though silenced resounds and will resound.

Expulsion : to expel forcibly from a country a person considered to be undesirable

Imagine the worst case:
Inside a building with corridors leaving little hope for escape. The administration is at work. Behind doors with numbers indicating their specific activities. It is the « Office for Aliens » (formerly called « Police for Aliens »). In a corridor, Lawyer S. steps resolutely towards a door, pushes it open, enters a room furnished with a desk and its faithful civil servant. Not a single frame on the wall.

S: Good morning
Civil Servant (warmly): Good morning, sir. What justifies the honour of your visit? So early in the morning?
S: I'm coming to make a complaint. (Shaking his head). Indeed! To complain. About our case 617.14 !
CS(slightly embarrassed): A complaint? Which file? 617.14? (looks for it). Here it is. Is there anything in here to complain about?
S: Absolutely! My client has tried to get into our country by asking asylum. In his attempt I was personally, yes, myself, his legal council.
CS(looking surprised): Usual procedure...
S: Absolutely! And your administration....
CS(browsing through the file): ....has not followed up the request introduced by your client.
(quotes : « In view of the fact that the reasons for political persecution which have been cited by the person asking for asylum and more precisely the physical danger that he says he might incur on his person in his native land seem to be contradictory, unclear, maybe false and in view of this our services are compelled to refuse the request of the said person and is therefore pronouncing the command to return the person to his country of origin. The return will be conducted under the supervision of only a few members of our police force. » (pause).
Yes, indeed, your client was sent back by plane to his country exactly three days ago.
S: Precisely! That's why I am angry!
CS: Sir, I'm afraid I don't understand. We have always had friendly relations. Up to now, during the last years we've sent back about thirty of your clients and as far as I can remember always as an exchange of favours.
S: Well, talking about this particular file, are you aware of the fact that my client, as soon as he landed, was taken by the local authorities? And that two hours later he was shot in the vicinity 
of the airport?
CS: Yes, we've had a vague report about it.
S: This is the reason for my presence here.
CS: Sir, I don't understand you. This is not the first time that one of your clients unfortunately loses his life on his return.
S: You don't realize what you're saying! My client has introduced a file with my support. You have refused to grant him asylum, I can admit that this is not avoidable. But I must strongly object to this kind of decision and to your methods. My client has been deported and executed without having had the slightest possibility to pay my fee. I think that you might show some concern about this and I now want to see your superior.

William said : « Yes I've been involved in some State business which was well beyond my grasp, where I was used as a pawn, and I had to flee. »

That being the case, imagine the lyrical situation :
Somewhere in a European network. The storm hangs heavily above the skylight. The cell breathes and closes in on itself. Yes, it seems that the cell breathes. In spite of the noise made by the planes. F. jumps when the steel door is opened. Three shadows immediately block the entrance. F. moans. The three cops take him, handcuff him, beat him. They conscientiously represent a nice sample of International Police. They drag F. into a metallic gullet lit by neon lights. F offers no resistance since weeks. Yesterday, the day before yesterday? They found the razor blades in his mouth. Little cries pearl under his eyelids. A blow lands on his back. (Since ages he doesn’t hear the voices of his ancestors. Since ages he doesn¹t hear the song of Yasmina. Since ages ages doesn’t mean anything anymore).
Someone opens another door, which opens onto the tarmac. The air is somber and low. F. is pushed into the back of a pick-up. A brief instant. Then he is again on the tarmac. His feet hit the metallic steps. The sky drops its first raindrops. A brief instant. F. shivers as he is thrown onto the plane seat. One of the cops: “…alright now? Do you need some more to understand better?” The clouds slowly descend. Finally tears swell into F’s dried-out eyes. Every bit of air seems strange. The blue arrives. (Since ages he doesn’t hear the voices of his ancestors. Since ages he doesn’t hear the song of Yasmina. Since ages ages doesn’t mean anything anymore). The strongest of the cops puts on his sunglasses, rolls up his sleeves and chuckles to himself that it is really appropriate to talk about “back to square one”. F. looks at the sky. His feet welded to the ground. (Voices? A song?) F. rubs his wrists then looks at his hands. They suddenly look terribly old.

 

William said “After all I had to flee from, the shock came gradually. I couldn’t stand being locked up”.

 

Imagine now the just return of the return :
- A plane belonging to a European airline destroyed in a Central African airport
- Seven accompanying policemen wounded by the population of the departure country when coming back from the return
- An embassy attacked following the explainable death of a woman candidate to return.


- ?

William said “Look at all this controlling system: it is weakness. All this is not a sign of strength, it reflects only one thing, that the nation is weak.”

Let us now imagine the triumph of imagination :
Given that the situation is unbearable in all respects
Given that the practices enforced nowadays by the secular power and its unwitting remnants, its bureaucracy and its executing executives, will have to be supressed immediately if not progressively and quickly, only conceivable way to “push back distress”.
Given the human devastations in the past and the conviction that nor the present neither the future should relive a similar experience.
Given our lucid awareness that we cannot legitimately accept compromise nor negotiation with protagonists clinging stiffly to a lame power.
Given our refusal to tolerate any superfluous and/or gratuitous cult of death.
Given that we despise every doctrine, every dogma.
Given that our struggle is also semantic.
Given the coherence and the emotional charge of our claims (expressed and well-argued time and again on many other occasions).
Given our capacity to invent realities.
Given that nothing is given but taken.
We may finally consider the return.

Deportation : to deport somebody, to make him leave by force his place of residence for
political reasons

What we demand is simply this :
The return of all expelled persons who survived their deportation and express their wish
to come back.

The material organization of this “return operation” will prove to be uncomplicated and entertaining. The cost of imprisonment and deportation buildings for migrants and the closure of borders will be converted into financing their return and their reception. The various European embassies will be required to collaborate in locating the expelled persons, then to receive them (provide lodging and feed them properly) awaiting their departure which will have to take place within the shortest time possible. In view of the psychological and physical wounds which have been inflicted on deported persons and as a token of apology it is of utmost importance that the return voyage be made pleasant, that in other words it becomes the opposite of the expulsion.
To achieve this we suggest that various police forces cooperate with each other. The agents (men and women) will once again act as accompanying persons, for working clothes they will wear a string and eventually, if deemed to be necessary, an ostrich feather boa. (Indeed, sometimes, that feather has its importance.) Sequins could be added to complete the uniform. The agents will provide onboard service. During the flight pleasant activities will be proposed : foot massage, neck rubbing, a special apology meal with the best wines and a whole variety of teas, projection of films, musical ambiance, distribution of gifts, make-up for children etc. Flights will be ensured by regular lines from various national and private companies and the planes will have been refurbished and painted for that particular use. Once the return flight is over, the reception will have to be organized. Here again the material organization should pose no difficulties. The buildings of the different administrations which are supposed to “manage immigration” can be used to that effect. In a first stage they will be used as temporary housing units (with rooms, showers, kitchens etc) and in the long run they will be turned into social and cultural activity centres. Social orientation support should be given (this to help the expelled people who have just come back to feel happier in the country they arrive in, where existing conditions as we all know are not really heavenly), and language lessons; we propose seminars to discuss the migration factor and racial mixing, exhibition halls, cinema, theatre, concert halls, libraries and crèches. Buildings converted in this way will then become excellent meeting places and will foster further creative prospects. It goes without saying that the detention and expulsion centres of migrants will have to be dismantled (and will only remain in sinister memories) and that they will be replaced by structures which will facilitate the possibility for everybody of permanent migration.

 

William said: “If I question my mind after this experience I realize that the idea I had on the concept of democracy has also once and for all been destroyed.”

 

Epilogue


It is clear that everything still remains to be shaken up. Today migrants who have no papers are just reduced to the status of shadows, they are systematically criminalized and are subjected to the most flagrant exploitation on the job markets in western countries; that is when they are not just simply expelled. (In 2001 according to Amnesty International, Belgium expelled 14,977 persons from the country.) As for migrants who attempt to reach European countries, they run a considerable amount of risk. Each year thousands of people die at their borders. The implacable decision to drastically reduce the possibilities for them to reach Europe is an unacceptable political reality as well as an illusion. Migratory movements exist and will exist indefinitely. The amount of hope and desperation which generates them turns into the irrepressible force which may contribute to the change needed in the midst of our (decaying) Western societies. This force could be contagious and freedom and equality of rights could become more palpable.
We will act towards achieving this goal.

 

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