[ 19. Jan 2009 ]

Asylum Seekers Squat Church in Zurich

Demonstration in Zurich, 03. Jan 2009

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 (US$ 8) 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 supermarket.

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.

a-films, a small anarchist film collective has followed the squatting of the church and produced several short films, featuring interviews with different Sans-Papiers. These are the links to the short films. They are available in different languages and formats:


Fore more information about the campaign, check out the website of:
"Right to Stay Collective Zurich":
"Solidarité sans Frontières":

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