[ 14. Mar 2008 ]

Meeting with deported migrant workers in Bamako, Mali


15.-16. Mar 2008: Two days of public meetings with migrant workers who have been deported or sent back from Europe.


The Malian Association of the Deported (Association Malienne des Expulsés, AME) organizes two days of public meetings focused on the testimonies of deported migrant workers and of those who have been sent back at the borders, on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th March in Bamako, Mali. The AME proposes an open space of debate to which the local population, and particularly would-be migrants waiting to leave, are invited.

The AME, created in 1996, is an association of people from Mali who have been deported. The association welcomes deported migrants at the airport and supports them by providing provisional housing, putting them in touch with a health center and a legal aid facility, and by putting them in touch with their families or their lawyers or supporters in the expelling countries, etc. In addition to dealing with these immediate urgent issues, it is the aim of the AME to defend the rights of the deported, to lobby government agencies and to educate the public.

Some months ago, the AME was contacted by various organizations and individuals, particularly in the regions of Gao and Kidal, to support numerous deported migrants, Malians and non-Malians, who found themselves in Tinzawaten, sent back by Algeria after a dramatic voyage in the desert.

Whether deported or sent back at the borders or in transit, all felt a great need to tell their story, express their fears and their disappointment, but also their hopes.

With these two days of public meetings, the AME wishes to open the debate on the issue of migration, and to provide a space where those of its members with painful histories can express themselves and transmit their experience. This space will give them the right to speak, a right they are often denied.

The aim of these meetings is also to make space for the would-be migrants waiting to depart, full of dreams and desires for the "elsewhere". This debate will provide an opportunity to these young would-be migrants to learn more about the realities of emigration today, giving them information on which to base a more realistic assessment of their situation.

Order of the days

The meetings will work in the following manner: several deported or sent back people will speak about ten minutes each, others will write texts about their experience on large sheets which will be pinned to the walls where they can be read by everyone during the two days. These testimonies will open a general debate, specifically with the people waiting to depart. Following and in reaction to this part of accounts and reactions of the public, there will be four discussions on issues relevant to the members of the AME and Malian society in general. These debates will be facilitated by qualified people. This public meeting is also supposed to be attractive and inviting.

There will be two sketches, played by deported migrants, directed by a professionnal. The people are invited to play their own stories. The sketches will be inspired by the Malian tradition of the "nyogolon", a kind of street theatre that speaks directly to the populace. One sketch will deal with the issue of expulsions, the other that of the holding back of would-be emigrants in the North of Mali. Preparing these sketches will involve the deported migrants in an attractive, educational, and paid activity.

The common meal at noon will be an opportunity for relaxation and informal exchanges.

On Saturday evening there will be a concert, in another place more suited to this. This will make it possible to reach a larger public. We will choose artists who sing about emigration. Members of the AME will be there to give some information about our association. There will be a fee for the concert, but it will be moderate. The AME will explain that this participation of the specators is a support for the deported and the sent back.

A dozen local radio stations are involved and will give space to members of the AME in the context of programs dealing with the issue of migration and giving information about the content of the public meeting on 15th and 16th March. These programs will start four weeks in advance of the meetings.


Saturday 15th March 2008
09h00 - 09h15 Introduction
09h15 - 09h30 Sketch 1
09h30 - 12h30 Stories of deported and sent back migrants and discussion
12h30 - 14h30 Lunch
14h30 - 14h45 Sketch 2
14h45 - 16h00 Theme 1 : The new laws on immigration in the EU and their consequences
16h00-17h30 Theme 2 : What are the reactions and policies of the African countries regarding these European policies
21h00 Concert

Sunday 16 March 2008
09h00 - 09h15 Sketch 2
09h15 - 12h30 Stories of deported and sent back migrants and discussion
12h30 - 14h30 Lunch
14h30 - 14h45 Sketch 1
14h45 - 16h00 Theme 3 : Externalization of borders, the role of the countries of the Southern Mediterranean: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya
16h00 - 17h30 Theme 4 : Emigration and development - what is co- development?
17h30 - 18h00 Conclusions - closing

Partnerships sought

The AME is looking for cofinancing for the organization of these meetings. Associations from the North as well as the South, individuals and members of the European Parliament have expressed their interest in this project.

The group The Greens / Free European Alliance has already given an important contribution, thanks to the participation of Hélène Flautre, president of the subcommission on human rights of the European Parliament, and of Alain Lipietz.