How a deadly hunger strike could bring down the Belgian government in the near future
THOUSANDS of migrants in Brussels are on hunger strike, and some are reportedly on the verge of death. The movement now threatens to overthrow Belgium’s government.
According to the most recent reports, 470 migrants are on hunger strike in Brussels, the majority of whom are holed up in a church or on a university campus. The strike has been going on for two months, but the problem is now spilling over into the federal government, with some people reportedly refusing water and being on the verge of death.
Although all of the migrants taking part in the strike are said to be illegal immigrants, others have been living and working in Belgium for years.
They are demanding the ability to participate in the official economy as legal residents as a group.
Their demands were rejected by the Belgian government, which stated that each case would be assessed on its own merits.
However, with physicians believing that some of the strikers are near death, a number of government ministers have stated that if any of the strikers die, they will quit.
Ministers from the federal coalition’s Green and Socialist parties stated on Monday that if a hunger striker died, they would quit “within the hour.”
If they do, the government is widely likely to topple.
“Their condition is such that death might come at any time,” a Doctors Without Borders spokesman said.
We Are Belgium Too, the hunger-strikers, are made up of four-fifths males and one-fifth women.
They are largely from Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, with a couple from Nepal and Bangladesh thrown in for good measure.
They wrote to Belgium’s King, pleading with him to intercede, claiming that all they sought was the ability to “live with dignity in a country they helped construct.”
As a result of the pandemic, many people have lost their jobs in the hotel industry.
They were employed in the informal economy and did not have contracts, thus they were not eligible for government compensation to help them deal with the Covid issue.
The administration, on the other hand, has yet to show any signs of bending.
“Using a hunger strike will not change the rules,” stated migration minister Sammy Mahdi.
“Those who do not have paperwork are urged to come and sort their dossiers out on their own.”
Activists had also asked for the group to be granted temporary residency permits on humanitarian grounds, but the minister declined.
“We are people, we need to be treated with,” said Ahmed, a 53-year-old striker, according to the EUObserver.