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France Calling: Stop harassing the Popov family!

John O | 21.09.2007 11:52 | Migration | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements

Yekaterina and Vladimir Popov a young couple from Kazakhstan persecuted in their country (considered as "colonisers", Russians are no longer tolerated by Kazakhs, who hunt them by all means, including extreme violence). They have been seeking political asylum in France for four years. The Popov's are settled in Vivier-au-Court (near the Belgian border); their daughter was born in Charleville-Mézières on 7th April 2004. They speak fluent French.

Their claim for political asylum was refused by the 'administrative tribunal' - despite the assassination in May 2005 of the father in law, deported by the French government. The couple hoped they would be granted humanitarian leave to remain by the local administration in Ardennes. In November 2006, they voluntarily went to the border police where they expected to be finally granted a residence permit.

Instead, they were arrested and placed in a detention centre. Véronique, two and a half, was taken care of by volunteers, thereby escaping the police who came to arrest her at nursery school to put her into detention.

They were freed due to the intervention of the Minister of the Interior before being arrested a second time and freed again after a significant mobilization from neighbours and friends in Charleville.

Yekaterina and Vladimir Popov were again arrested on Monday 27th of August at 7:00am. They were due to be removed the following day at 9:00am. This expedient removal was cancelled and they were taken to the detention centre in Oissel, near Rouen, with their two children Véronique (4) and Geoffrey (just a few months old).

Knowing all too well the risks they face if they are returned to Kazakhstan, they appealed to the French authorities to allow them to leave Véronique and Geoffrey with their grandmother in Angers (a regularized citizen married to a Frenchman).

They asked that their statement be released and brought to public attention so that everyone appreciates the suffering brought upon this family, and undocumented foreigners in general, by a doggedly determined government.

"France is forcing us to return to our deaths, that is 100% sure.

"Even more so since the regional administration in Ardennes launched an investigation with the Kazakh police, the KNB, previously the KGB.

"Everyone can understand that it is impossible for us to safely return to Kazakhstan, where the remaining Russians are already being very seriously harassed.

"Our two children, Véronique and Geoffrey will also meet their deaths there, and what a death! When the police came to find us, I wanted to leave my children with my mother; they said, "No, the children are going with you".

"If they are going to forcibly remove us, couldn't they at least have some pity for our children and let them stay with my mother?"

For 2 weeks, the Popov's were kept in detention, sometimes without milk and nappies for the baby. Their plight provoked an outcry all over France yet the authorities tried once again to deport them on 11th September. They were put on the plane; Katerina implored the pilot and fellow passengers. They didn't fly that day and were eventually returned again to the detention centre in Rouen.

The next day, the judge called for their release. They were finally released at 10.30pm.

However, they didn't anticipate the determination of the regional administration of Maine et Loire against them: the district prefect appealed the decision and, on the 14th September, the court of appeal over-ruled the previous judge's verdict. The Popov's have now been forced to go in hiding. They are being hunted and in grave danger of removal.

What you can do to help:
1) Fax: Monsieur Gérard Errera, French Ambassador to the U.K, urging him to convey your plea for the Popov family to the French government (fax model attached). Fax number: 020 7073 1004.

2) Sign the petition on RESF's website

3) Write to Brice Hortefeux, French Minister of Immigration and National Identity, urging him to grant leave to remain to the Popov family on compassionate grounds (use the fax model attached). Fax number: +33 (0) 1 55 55 49 20 or +33 (0) 1 77 72 61 00. To send a fax for free in France directly from the web: (do not use the international prefix).

Please, notify the campaign of any faxes sent:
'Solidarity with the Popov's campaign'
Bourse du Travail,
4 place Imbach,
F-49100 Angers
Fax : +33 (0)8 26 33 63 34

End of Bulletin:

Source for this Message:
Réseau Education Sans Frontières

John O
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