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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Figeac protège la famille Assoiev

by Bruno Vincens

Figeac Protects the Family Assoiev

Translated Tuesday 18 August 2015, by Henry Crapo

The intervention of Francois Hollande has accelerated the deportation proceedings of a couple and their children supported by an entire city.

Figeac (Lot), by Special Envoy.

On July 31, Francois Hollande made a flying visit to the the department of the Lot. The Senator, Mayor of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, invited the President to inaugurate the new city hall. That day, along with other personalities of the Socialist Party there present, André Mellinger, mayor of Figeac, and Martin Malvy, President of the Regional Council of Midi-Pyrénées, personally handed a letter to the Head of State, detailing the situation of the family Assoiev, from Georgia, settled in Figeac since 2011, in the context of an obligation, which no one in the community understands, that they leave the territory . A few days later, Francois Hollande let it be known that the letter had been forwarded to Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister of the Interior.

At about 1 am on Friday, August 7, the Assoiev family left their apartment in the housing complex "Montviguier" in Figeac. Two weeks earlier, the parents and their children had received a threatening letter from the Prefecture of the Lot, ordering them to surrender "by [their] own means" at the airport of Toulouse-Blagnac, and to present themselves at 7 am to the border police, before boarding a plane that would bring them to their country of origin, Georgia. But the family Assoiev never arrived at the Toulouse-Blagnac airport. As the citizen support committee [1] that came to their aid puts it, "they chose to go into hiding, to protect themselves."

David, an engineer, now aged 48, arrived in France in April 2009. His wife, Jana, a nurse, and their grown-up twins, Amina and Anatoli, joined him in June 2011. All four promised never to return to Georgia, where it is not a good idea to belong to the Kurdish minority and to practice the Yezidi religion. According to their testimony, Anatoli suffered violence, and David’s brother was arrested, never to be seen again. The Assoiev family has not been granted political asylum in France, but a residence permit for them was renewed each year, until August 2014. The Prefecture of the Lot then told them that they are obliged to leave French territory. That decision was subsequently upheld by the administrative court.

In the town of Figeac, all who know Jana, David, Amina and Anatoli wonder why the prefecture wants to expel residents of their neighborhood. Not only they are not suspected of any crime, but all four have found their place in their small housing development. David worked in an association. His wife, Jana, first found a job in a holiday center, then worked in private homes as an aide to the elderly. These were regular jobs, declared for taxation on wages. Anatoli was schooled for two years in Champollion high school in Figeac, not having yet mastered the French language, which greatly complicated his studies. Since then, the family has learned our language, Amina following French courses provided by the Red Cross. She also volunteers at the cooperative grocery store in the city, while her father gives of his time to Emmaüs. Lot Habitat, social landlord of the apartment of the Assoiev family, attests: "They are attentive to others, pleasant, helpful and have a real desire to get involved in neighborhood life. "

The return to Georgia would be perilous for David, who has had heart surgery, and is in frail condition. The situation of Amina, 22, who suffers from epilepsy, is even more dramatic. The young woman is a patient of a neurologist from Rodez Hospital, who specifies in a medical certificate: "The consequences of a default in treatment for Amina’s health status could be grave, even fatal." It is not at all sure that this treatment is available in Georgia. However, Amina could be treated at Montpellier in a service that specializes in epilepsy.

Summer vacation does not impede the mobilization for the Assoiev family. A sit-in of a hundred people took place on August 5 in front of the Lot Prefecture in Cahors. This Wednesday, August 12, it’s still bubbling with effervescence. Meetings follow one another. In the local bureau of the French Communist Party, activists examine the situation. "The family wants to live and work here," says Jean-Pierre Renaud, moderator of the Friends of l’Humanité in Figeac. Christiane Sercomanens said: "Yesterday, the police called me to ask me where they are and I said I don’t know anything." The Communist deputy mayor shows a list of eighty people: each "solemnly undertakes to protect Assoiev family." Among the signatories, Socialist Party Mayor Andrew Mellinger. At midday a call comes in from a militant of Cimade: she had a contact with the prefect of the Lot. The bridges are not broken. At 16 hours, another meeting, this time in the office of the Cimade. Anne, an activist of the organization, says, "We must be calm, but never let go." We distributed leaflets announcing the rally the next day, Thursday 13 August. Jérôme Delmas says, "Continue to keep everyone informed." Christiane went to the city to the Montviguier development to bring a package of leaflets to Cathy. The nearest neighbor of Assoiev family is upset: "I have made friends with them. I did not see them leaving in the middle of the night, and it was better that way. I especially fear for Amina, who is ill. Why should a family that has done evil to no one have to hide? I recovered David’s guitar. I will return it to him when he returns."

[1This committee brings together the neighbors of the family, and the organizations Cimade, Catholic Relief, Emmaus, CGT, Solidaires, the PCF, PRG, EELV ...

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