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Today in Labour History

22 March 1996
Wall Painting in Paris, Rue de Tanger/Boulevard de la Chapelle


Three hundred African immigrants, originating mainly from Mali and Senegal,  occupied the Saint-Ambroise church in the 11th arrondissement of Paris to put pressure on the government to regularize their residence situation in France. On 22 March 1996, the occupation was ended by the violent expulsion of the protesters by the police. But other occupations and hunger strikes began. The Sans-Papiers (without residency papers) Movement was born. Illegal foreign residents were supported by native French intellectuals, filmmakers and other personalities. Its repertoire of actions include hunger strikes and occupations of public buildings. Support has also come from the Réseau Education Sans Frontières (Network Education without Frontiers) which was formed in 2004. The Réseau focuses on lobbying for the children of sans-papiers who are educated in French schools and whose family is threatened with deportation. The struggle is unfinished.

Jane Freedman, The French Sans-Papiers Movement' in: Migration and Activism in Europe since 1945 (New York 2008)

More info: Migration and Activism (Publication)