Asylum Seekers Squat Church in Zurich (Switzerland)

On Friday, 19 December 2008, around 150 Sans-Papiers and solidarity
activists squatted the ?Prediger? Church in Zurich, Switzerland. The
squatters demanded from the Canton Zurich documents for everyone, work
permits for all and the implementation of the hardship provision 

Switzerland in general and the Canton Zurich specifically have a very
restrictive regime for asylum seekers and those whose asylum claim was
rejected. Migrants who get the so called ?non-admissibility-decision?
(NEE) on the asylum claim have to leave the country. However, many of
them prefer to stay. According to Swiss law, they?re not entitled to
receive social assistance, but only emergency assistance. In the Canton
Zurich, migrants with NEE are given accommodation in emergency centers,
but they are obliged to change the place once a week. Furthermore,
they?re only given 8.5 Swiss Francs (GBP £5
a day). This amount isn?t being given in cash, but in Migros coupons.
Migros is a major Swiss supermarket chain. The Canton doesn?t pay for
transportation, although the migrants have to change accommodation once
a week and often end up staying somewhere far away from a Migros

Many migrants have been staying in
Switzerland illegally for many years, some more than ten. Swiss federal
law allows cantons to apply a hardship provision. This means that
people with NEE, who have lived in Switzerland for more than five
years, can be given a legal status if they are integrated well into the
society. However, the canton of Zurich has not applied this provision
at all.

Because of their terrible living conditions in once
of the world?s richest countries, illegal immigrants have organized
themselves and with the help of Swiss activists and took over the
Protestant ?Prediger? Church in the heart of Zurich on 19 December. On
5 January, the were received by the responsible government official
from the city of Zurich. However, for most of the migrants, the meeting
was disappointing, because their demands were not accepted. The
official only made some promises regarding the implementation of the
hardship provision, but nobody knows if he will stick to them or not.
In the meantime, the Sans-Papiers have taken a break and will decided
next week how to continue their campaign.