Massive escalation of already appalling violence by police (CRS) in recent months. The use of CS gas and truncheons is the ‘normal’ way to control the movement of people at the Calais border. Injuries on a sharp rise including injuries requiring hospitalization. Excessive and illegal use of force both against people who are trying to cross and against people who organize peaceful protests. Sometimes people are attacked for no reason at all: some local people report seeing migrants being attacked when walking back from the Eurotunnel in direction of the jungle including women, one pregnant. People are hit with truncheons on the head including women and minors: I saw a 17 years old from Afghanistan and a 16 years old from Syria with head injuries requiring stitches.
The police use gas grenades to disperse people who gather on the motorway – CS gas of very nasty quality. The 12 million fence the UK government paid for with taxpayers money can be cut like butter, even a small wire cutter does the job. So people cut holes in the fence and run on the motorway. Police reply with batons and CS gas. Police spray people in the eyes at close range and they often fire gas grenades directly into the crowd – a young man has recently been hit on the mouth by a grenade and his jaw is shattered. Many refugees have been hit by rubber bullets. On the site of the Eurotunnel there are lines of fences and police violence is even worst, as there is nobody to see it. The police also use helicopters and a water cannon. Some people have broken ribs because some policemen kick and stamp on them when they are on the ground, including an middle aged man who was previously tortured by Daesh, suffers from PTDS and has tried twice to commit suicide. If nobody intervenes, police often leave injured people on the ground for up to 2/3 hours before calling an ambulance. The police fire gas grenades into the camp where people are sleeping: there have been a number of gas attacks on the jungle, most on the side of the motorway (rue des Garennes) where there are numerous Eritreans including women and some children, and on the Afghan camp where there are hundreds of underage boys, the youngest are 8 or 9. Often roofs catch fire because of gas grenades falling on them. On one occasion hundreds of grenades were thrown on the other side of the camp (chemin des Dunes) where numerous Kurdish families live, many young children and babies, the youngest baby was three months old and a gas grenade fell approx 2 meters from the tent where his family were sleeping. Clouds of CS gas were so dense and so toxic everybody had to get out and an English volunteer collapsed to the ground. I saw other people collapsing and unconscious for the effects of gas on different occasions. People have the habit to gather numerous and very closely around the fallen because they are concerned, but it is not really helpful and we need to try shush away these little crowds so the injured can breathe.
The families organized a peaceful protest against the violence and the terrible living conditions but the police ordered them to go back to the jungle, and when they refused they attacked them with batons and CS spray, also on the children. Several children had to seek medical help because of respiratory problems lasting for days and burns on their skin caused by CS gas sprayed at close range, including a little boy who is one year old; some children had nightmares afterwards and kept crying at night…
I do not know how people can sleep in the jungle, the noise of gas grenades being fired can start any time day or night and can last for hours, even if the grenades do not fall directly into the camp the motorway is at the camp’s edges. Most injuries happen at night when usually there is no first aid post open nor medics. People blow cigarette smoke in the eyes of those who have been gassed, it is very effective to reduce the irritation. No Borders activists provide some first aid and also document the violence, thus they are often present when there are incidents on the motorway. They have been therefore accused by THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT of inciting riots on the motorway. A No Borders activist has been charged for violent disorder and inciting unrest, and is to stand trial the 14th December; two English volunteers were arrested before him and released without charges. People do not need to be incited to riot: when police throw gas grenades at them, or in the camp, they throw stones at the police, a few policemen have been injured by flying stones but many more migrants have been injured by police and nobody counts them or complain about, Some are so desperate to get out the jungle and into the UK they do things like surrounding lorries in dozens of people, or blocking the motorway with improvised barricades or fires. Not everybody agrees with such tactics and there are constant and often heated discussions between different communities. To cross has became very difficult and only a few manage, due to increased controls and fences and very violent police; people often organize mass ‘invasions’ of the motorway in order to be able to stand up to the police. The bottleneck so tight that it is creating a disastrous situation for everybody, migrants for the first: there have never been so many people killed or injured at this border; but also for drivers, emergency services and local people. The Kurdish mafia is doing really well, after the government and local authorities pushed all the people into their hands, and made it so difficult to cross independently; smugglers can now charge up to 6000 (six thousands) euros for going to England in the back of a lorry. The UK government and the French government are responsible for this situation. Blaming the migrants and who helps them is shifting the blame, and no doubt the government and the police are very keen to get rid of witnesses. Many volunteers who provide essential humanitarian help have been harassed, their cars stopped by police, they have been given fines and lost points on their driving licenses for ridiculous reasons; for some time the roads to the jungle have been closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles, which has been successfully challenged but occasionally they still close the roads under a pretext or another. On the other side of the Channel, some activists and volunteers have been stopped under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act on their return, and some Muslim or Asian volunteers have been prevented from travelling to France! And with the state of emergency in France civil liberties are curtailed and police have more powers.
Call out to fight against borders and repression/ 14th December trans-national day of acton
Here are a few reports and film of police violence: