Appel du 24 Juin 2004 - Version anglaise
On June 24, 2004, at the Bourse du Travail, in Paris, took place a reunion of teachers, staff of the national education system (Education nationale), students’ parents, educators, associations, trade unions and organisms committed to the defense of Human Rights, all of them concerned with the situation of students and pupils who do not possess residence documents ("sans-papiers") and who attend school, from nursery up to university. They decided to create a support network called "Education without frontiers" (Education sans frontières). The signatory trade unions, students’ parents associations, organizations and representatives of associations and educational institutions, call on the teaching and other staff of school institutions at all levels to be vigilant, to inform their pupils that they are ready to mobilise in order to help them regularize their situation.
The text of this call, which is the founding act of a network that gathers today several dozens organizations and associations, is the following :
Paris, June 24, 2004 :
These last months, the staff, parents and students of schools have obtained, through hard struggle, the regularization of "paperless" students and their parents, menaced with expulsion by iniquitous laws. Students whom nothing would have distinguished from their classmates, except for the fact that their lives had been shattered from the moment they became of age, because of the authorities refusal to grant them the residence permit that would allow them to live normally with their families. The mobilization of teachers, students and parents, people from the neighbourhood, support from local or nation-wide personnalities, but also from hundreds of anonymous people, sometimes the echo of their action on radio, television and press, made it possible to pull those young people out of clandestinity. All is well that ends well, for them. And yet, beyond these resolved cases, thousands of other young people, children, students also suffer the tragedy of losing the right for a decent existence, the obsession of interpellation, the fear of an expulsion often executed in shameful conditions, the anxiety of a future foreclosed by the loss of the right to follow superior studies, to work, to have a house, to benefit from Social Security. In a word, they are subject to being condemned to the infamous life conditions to which the "paperless" are reduced.
It is inconceivable for us to imagine our students, our childrens’ friends, being handcuffed, held up, gagged and attached on their airplane seats, while their classmates peacefully go on studying Eluard (« J’écris ton nom, Liberté » "I write thy name, Freedom") or Du Bellay (« France, mère des arts, des armes et des lois » "France, mother of the arts, the arms and the laws") ; and that, with a steady hand, we will erase from the lists the names of the banished.
It is the duty of teachers, school staff, the students themselves and their families, but also of the associations (students’ parents, defense of Human Rights, anti-racist) and of the organizations of trade unions and others, to take action in order to pull these youngsters from the situation that smashes their lives. Take action for the students themselves, often already battered by a chaotic existence : exiled, having sometimes lost one of their parents and gone through several ordeals. The tragedies which fill the biographies of some of them, must not be burdened still with the anxiety of being expelled from a country in which they believed to have found a refuge.
But we must also take action in order to demonstrate to our pupils and our children that the discourses on « values » are not just empty words. It is the duty of all who have the mission to educate, and first of all the teachers and the parents, to show to the so called "confused" younger generation, that justice, altruism, solidarity, commitment to a common cause are not words empty of meaning. And that some adults know what must be done when the young are victims of injustice or thrown into intolerable situations. We must also act side by side with the young themsselves. They will, if they participate in just struggles, take up again with the traditions of solidarity, of the collective combat for justice which will perhaps give them the opportunity, in their lifetime, to promote the ideal of a better world, open to all.
Adults and young people in schools constitute a social force which can exercise pressure in order to cease this situation of exclusion for the "paperless" students. We call for the creation and the development of network of solidarity with the young "paperless" students, on national and european level.
We call on all those concerned, be it "paperless" students, teachers, educational staff, students’ parents, pupils and students, jurists and lawyers, but also professional trade unions, associations, parties committed to combatting injustice and finally all those who are outraged by oppression, to adhere to this call, sign it, reproduce it, diffuse it, and get in contact with us. Already in the beginning of the school year 2004, we must locate the young people in difficulty, and create teams to help them, so that all the force of the school world is exercised in order to put an end to these intolerable situations. Éducation sans frontières