Touria Prayag's Blog

Hogging centre stage Par Touria Prayag 9 Mai 2013

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on September 15, 2013

MPs Françoise Labelle and Lysie Ribot’s words of support for the Foyer Namasté hunger strikers ring as hollow as the Caudan tunnel. They are another example of how the opposition – any opposition – jumps on any bandwagon in the hope of gaining some political mileage. Except that this bandwagon is dangerous.

 

Here in paradise, we have redefined the concept of the hunger strike. The whole point of a hunger strike is the risk that you might die. Over here, hunger strikers keep popping in and out of hospital being topped up by a drip before continuing the ‘strike’. No one is therefore horrified as no one sees the hunger strikers wasting away before their anguish-stricken eyes.

 

But forget about the form for a moment and look at the reason behind the hunger strike. A group of former employees of Foyer Namasté have lost their jobs in very tragic circumstances. Tragic – that is – for the children who have been deprived of everything life could offer: good mental and physical health and the comfort of caring parents. These children were also allegedly abused by those they turned to for protection. And, just for the record, the shelter had been operating without a licence since 1997! So basically, what the hunger strikers are asking for is that the children of this nation be entrusted to those who are not licensed to look after them or protect them!

 

Naturally, the inquiry has not been concluded yet and we are not sure how much responsibility the hunger strikers have in the alleged abuse but for one thing, the abuse had been going on for a number of years according to various accounts given. Years during which all the Foyer Namasté workers were oblivious to what the children were going through. It is true that the allegations hint to abuse that took place outside the confi nes of the shelter but only a full inquiry can rule out any other type of abuse taking place within its walls. Re-opening it before the end of the inquiry would possibly mean re-opening the gates to abuse – something no civilised society should allow.

 

Now, we are very sensitive to the plight of those employees who have lost their jobs. They are entitled to a solution like redeployment or compensation until the centre re-opens – if it ever does. However, that solution is unlikely to come by participating in a hunger strike in the Jardin de la Compagnie but rather by presenting their problem to the right authorities. Naturally, this defeats the whole purpose of their representatives hogging the limelight.

 

Our understanding is that the minister of labour offered to join the meeting held between the representative of the employees, Georges Ah Yan, and Minister Mireille Martin to try and find a solution to the sudden unemployment situation of the workers. The representative refused. You may recall that the last time we heard of Mr. Ah Yan was a few months ago when he went on a hunger strike asking the government to issue a second ticket to parents accompanying their children for an operation abroad. We don’t know if he has broken his fast since but what we do know is that he has found an equally media-grabbing cause. Pity the other activists from Azir Morismanaged to get in the way. Now they are all busy elbowing and jostling for the limelight while the hunger strikers keep hospital staff busy with their frequent visits for perfusion. What a caring and disinterested society we find ourselves living in.

 

weekly@lasentinelle.mu

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