- Three questions
to Jacques Gaillot
One of the leaders of the people without
legal documents in France has recently been killed in a car accident
in Africa. You had celebrated a mass for him in Saint-Bernard
church in Paris. The people without legal documents squatted
in the church for a long time.
Have all these people who where housed in the Maison des Ensembles
in Paris finally received their legal documents and has Partenia
been very much involved in this process? What is the present
situation of people who still don't have legal documents?
Most of those I have known since ten
years have received their documents, including those living in
Maison des Ensembles. It was a long and tedious struggle, but
successful. When we are united, we often win.
These days, the Law is more repressive in France as well as in
countries of the European Union. Still foreigners are coming
into our countries, sometimes at the risk of their life. Neither
Law, nor the police will be able to prevent them to flee their
misery and seek refuge in our wealthy countries.
At present, public opinion is not concerned by people without
legal documents. That does not make the task easy for the Associations
helping them. However, these people are progressively taking
in hand their own problems, they are becoming responsible for
their own fate.
The leader from Benin, who died in Cotonou
after a tragic car accident, is a good example of it. When I
knew him, he was without legal documents, I knew him during his
trial at the Court, when he was in prison, during all the demonstrations
we made together in the streets. He became the speaker for these
people; bringing hope to the poor.
The Head of Paris Police paid tribute to him.
- The "winter truce"
is coming close; a time when people cannot be expulsed from their
lodging till springtime. However thousands of homeless people
are wandering in the streets of big cities. What do you think
about this type of society that is not able to offer a lodging
to every body?
- Several tens of thousand of people
have received a Court decision to leave by force their apartment,
through an action enforced by the bailiff or the police. They
are thrown into the streets, why? Because they are unable to
pay for their lodging. The number of these cases has increased.
More and more people are in a precarious
situation, my thoughts go to these single women with one child
with rents becoming more and more expensive.
The "winter truce" is a good thing but it does not
solve the real problem.
A majority of French people are benefiting of good lodging. As
long as this majority does not feel unhappy for the distress
of this minority, nothing will be done.
- We need to build many more houses
with low rent. A society unable to respect the most weak of their
members will not have peace.
- Many Associations are dedicated
to help those who" have not". The Churches do also.
For you what is the text that calls the believers to help those
who "have not"?
The word of Jesus cannot be ignored:
" I was a foreigner and you have welcomed me"
This word is a formidable gift, an ecumenical word for every
body. Those who have no legal documents know it and appreciate
it. That is the reason why they squat in churches more than any
This African leader who just died was a roman catholic. He was
attending mass every Sunday. He could not abandon a foreigner
and feel close to Christ.
At his funeral mass, in Saint Bernard church, activists, Union
members and people without legal documents were attending. They
were offering the image of the Church caring for those that society