Log-book: July 2002

  An inspiring gesture   
  Tunisia: only the dead have the right to listen to the opposition 
  The City of Science and Industry under occupation 
  French Bibliography  Archives of Partenia 




The Bible

Special Edition

An inspiring gesture

On my arrival in Montreal, I had dinner with the chairman of the Quebec Bishop's Conference. He told me of an event close to his heart which had just happened.

The Cross of the World Youth Days had just arrived in his diocese. Numerous events had been planned in different locations.  Croix des Journées Mondiales

It was the bishop's wish that the Cross be brought to the Juvenile Delinquents Home. Which was done. A few tables were put together and the Cross was installed there. The young offenders rushed to the Cross touching it and letting their hands linger for several moments as if they could draw force and life from it. Did this gesture mean that they wanted to be recognized, loved and respected? And live just like any other teenager in our community? At any rate, a few days later, about ten of the young delinquents from this Home asked the bishop to be confirmed. Like a good shepherd, the bishop agreed without any objection and in so doing was demonstrating how young delinquents are precious in the heart of God.

JMJ Canada  I found this evangelical event very touching and narrated it to a gathering of five thousand people the next day. Loud applause broke out in the assistance. 






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Tunisia: only the dead have the right to listen to the opposition
A delegation from Marseille and Paris went to Tunis to show solidarity to several conscience objectors in prison, especially Hamma Hammami, an emblematic figurehead of the resistance who, with his wife, a famous lawyer, came to greet us at the airport.

Hamma Hammami  I have much admiration for Hamma Hammami who leads a courageous fight since 1972.
Thirty years of persecutions! He knows almost all the prisons of Tunisia, notably the sinister prison of Nadhor. How can this man survive all the tortures he was inflicted?

We were followed and under police surveillance everywhere we went. In front of the Tunis prison we were dispersed with no consideration. France 3 and Arte television crews tried to film the event and their equipment was seized by force. As for a BBC television crew, the crew was detained for one hour and a half. A press conference planned in a private residence was also banned.

The only place left for the opposition on these sad days: a cemetary lost in the country at 120 km from Tunis, in the peacefulness of corn fields and olive trees, in Gaafour. As it has been a custom every year, left-wing activists, trade unionists and human rights defenders gathered on this location around Nabil Barakati's humble grave, who died 15 years ago after being tortured by Bourguiba's police. Nabil was 27 years old. In all Tunisia he is still looked at as a great martyr of the resistance.

There, and only there, were we able to talk freely: surrounded by police cars scattered in the plains, this cemetary seemed a weird location for a gathering in the middle of the fields.
Only the dead, the flowers and the birds had the right to listen to the speeches of the activists.Were the Tunisians not worthy of hearing the speeches?   droit d'entendre

But they are under such heavy suveillance! Repression hits everybody. Those who praise Ben Ali's regime are those who are afraid or who have interests.

la tombe  We formed a large family around Nabil's grave. I was asked to speak. I was pleased to talk of Nabil, this young teacher who had his heart in the right place, who was afraid of no one but who inspired much fright to the autorities!  
Because he was a free man. It is written in arab on his grave: " May God have mercy on him".
Nabil deserves to be beatified!



The City of Science and Industry under occupation

action illégale  150 illegal refugees have occupied this prestigious place to ask for their regularization. This occupation followed that of the ex Colonial House where they had displayed a huge banner with the inscription: " Colonized yesterday in the South, now exploited in the North-For the regularization of all illegal refugees".
These two illegal actions, during the electoral campaign, had the purpose the reinsertion of social demands for the regularization of illegal refugees caught in a double stranglehold between repression and exploitation.

A sit-in was held with speeches and songs in the wide lobby of the City of Science and Industry. The director met with a delegation. There was no police intervention and she accepted to approach the Minister of Social Affairs. 

eye withness 

Numerous times, we were asked to meet with the Minister of the Interior, the only valid representative to discuss the question of illegal refugees. Each time, we have refused under the principle that the battle for the illegal refugees should be dealt with respectfully and in accord with the fundamental rigths-and not in a secure management manner with the objective of branding them.

We have met with the Ministry of "Social Affairs and Solidarity", which bears well its name! to ask that the same rights be given to illegal workers as they are given to other workers.
The Summit of the Fifteen in Seville wants to build an "insurmountable" European fortress while the report of the UN Department of Populations outlines demographic ageing in Europe, is detrimental to those who will retire and will force inevitably to resort to immigrant workers.