Support Demonstration in France for Chechen Family
On January 6th, in Antibes, a resort town in southern France, hundreds of people, including local politicians, gathered to support a Chechen asylum seeking family who are at risk for deportation from France to Russia.
A 19-year old Chechen asylum seeker, Avetik Arakelov and his family ran away from the Russian occupied Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and requested asylum from France. Their application was rejected by the French authorities all five times that they attempted. Now their residence permit has come to its end and the family lives in fear of deportation. For this reason, a support demonstration was held in front of the Jacques Dolle High School. The representatives of Réseau Éducation Sans Frontières (The Network of Education without Borders), local politicians, Avetik’s teachers and classmates participated in the demonstration with the slogan, “Don’t Touch Avetik (Touche pas au Bac d’Avetik)” and demanded asylum for Chechen family.
The politicians who in support of the family are: Gérard Piel, Cécile Dumas and Denis La Spesa, who are regional councilors in Antibes from the Left Front (Front de Gauche); Philippe Mussi, regional councilor and deputy mayor of Valbonne; Michèle Muratore, from the Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste); Jean-Pierre Cochart, secretary of the Socialist Party in Antibes; and Pierre Aubry, from Greens (Les Verts).
“Avetik is a young man who stays out of trouble. He has made great efforts in class despite his difficulties in the French language. He is perfectly integrated. Why should we accept his forced return?” said one of his teachers, Christèle Blanc.
“Thank you all, really thank you from the bottom of my heart. This is the first time in my life that I see so much solidarity and mutual assistance. When the war erupted in Chechnya, our situation worsened. The Russians hate us; I suffered bullying at school from Russian students. We had to pay 500 Euros to a smuggler to bring us to France. I don’t want to go back to my homeland. I don’t want to relive the same nightmares again. You cannot imagine how our lives have been violated,” said Avetik Arakelov.
A petition is currently pending; however the fate of the Chechen family remains in limbo.
*Text was written by Delphine Giordano, translated by Waynakh Online and edited by Michael Capobianco