french bake stops deportation hunger strike

France 3 Bourgogne-Franche-Comté/YouTube

Baker stops deportation of migrant after posting hunger strike online, getting hospitalized

'If you protect someone, you protect them fully.'


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Jan 17, 2021   Updated on Jan 17, 2021, 3:26 pm CST

Attracting global attention, Stéphane Ravacley, a baker in Besançon, a city in eastern France, had been on hunger strike since Jan. 3 in protest of the planned deportation of his Guinean apprentice.

According to an NBC News report, Ravacley, 50, was hospitalized following the publicized hunger strike in his attempt to stop the deportation of Laye Fodé Traoré, who Ravacley says received a residency permit to continue his immigration process and working. The 18-year-old immigrant works under Ravacley at La Hûche à Pain bakery.

Traoré arrived in France two years ago at age 16 from Guinea in West Africa. He made the “perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea in an inflatable boat,” according to NBC News. A year later, he was working as a trainee baker at Hûche à Pain with Ravacley.

“Laye was an exemplary worker. I could see that right away,” Ravacley told NBC News. The outlet further explains that he hired Traoré in September of 2019 after reading an article “about the struggle of migrant children to find training opportunities as part of their immigration obligations.”

When Traoré turned 18, he was refused a resident card and told to leave the country.

The petition launched by Ravacley read, translated: “Help us save our super apprentice baker from being evicted from the territory!” The appeal gained over 240,000 signatures, including from actors Marion Cotillard and Omar Sy. 

Ravacley’s appeals gained traction on social media as well. “This brave act of solidarity and love has moved 130,000 people in France to oppose the deportation of a young immigrant, a baker’s apprentice. May Stéphane Ravacley’s courage inspire us to resist hate and dehumanization, and to build common cause instead,” user @gmaniatis tweeted.

NBC reports that the 50-year-old was briefly hospitalized after his hunger strike. His campaign, however, was successful. Traoré was ultimately granted a resident card.

“Humanity does not say we protect children for this time and then suddenly stop on the day of their birthday,” Ravacley told NBC News. “If you protect someone, you protect them fully.”

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H/T NBC News

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*First Published: Jan 17, 2021, 3:25 pm CST