Active presence of the SFO in the World - 2011 Questionnaire
National Fraternity of France
Bro. Pacific Local fraternity - PVC Region
1. Project CIRCLE OF SILENCE AT VERSAILLES: My undocumented brother and sister
The Circle of silence, non-violent action, is aimed at informing people of Versailles (like those of 200 cities in France) of the lack of respect for the dignity of the person, of the growing number of laws that favor humiliation of those seeking political asylum or requesting residence permits, or simply renewing their residence permit. It is a network formed by people from numerous social or charitable structures, etc., as well as Protestants. It is being held every 2nd Thursday of the month, from 5pm to 6pm, at the flower market in Versailles (near the Prefecture), since 2008.
3. A little history
In our city there are many immigrants, including many Muslims (there is a mosque), and Christians from over twenty countries and from various cultures. Many immigrants, undocumented or in precarious situations (difficulties to renew a residence permit, temporary permit of residence without permission to work ...), also go to a CIMADE’s office where some members of the fraternity volunteer. Finally, there is an Immigration Detention Center in town with room for 32 people. We have seen that in front of the prefecture, people seeking to do their paper work stand in line beginning in the evening prior to the office opening the following morning. Many people spend the night thus, standing in line on the sidewalk, with no shelter in the rain and in the cold during the winter. There are no toilets nearby, not is it possible to obtain hot drinks (or cold). Recently high school students come to offer coffee some mornings. The network members observe the lines and talk with the people, then take stock of the situation (over several months). Contact is established among the associations and movements participating in the circle of silence as well as (occasionally) with the Prefecture.
4. Project Coordination
At the local fraternity, the project is coordinated by Michel-Claude Girard and Patrick Gérault.
5. Impact on Society
Our actions have lessened the hardships of the conditions in which immigrants are lining up outside the prefecture. There has been growing awareness of the local media and especially the inhabitants of Versailles, by the presence of the Circle of silence that brings together 50 to 120 people in the same place, once a month, since 2008. Every month, 350 copies of the Circle of silence Newsletter are distributed to passers-by. The bulletin is also sent by internet to various organizations, parishes and several people who have provided their email addresses, as well as to the French network of circles of silence. We have established contact with a Member of Parliament. The local bishop participated once at the Circle of silence. We have also had the warm support of the "network Gubbio".
6. What we learned
Being silent for an hour allows Christians to pray and all those watching or joining us to internalize. The strength of silence and immobile presence inspire respect for the circle. Pedestrians or passersby go around in silence.
Not everyone understands “you are brothers” in the same way: there are several "levels" of brothers, there is a big gap between the words of the gospel and the reality of our lives, between “you visited me in prison” and I visit the undocumented, I welcome them, I take risks for them.
We have also come to learn the conditions under which migration occurs and the various texts / laws governing migration.
7. Multimedia / Documentation available
The numerous laws on the subject are a recurring topic on the radio, on television and in newspapers. The Versailles regional newspaper occasionally deals with the subject.
8. Contact person Email Telephone
01 30 55 54 66
01 30 54 05 87