Return to Calais – Fascist attacks and police repression

There are currently hundreds of people who have returned to Calais, trying to cross to the UK. The majority are from Eritrea and Ethiopia but there are also Sudanese and Afghans, underage or very young, as police cannot arrest minors and put them in deportation centres.  Adults instead are not just arrested and released, like often in the past, they are put in detention, where they can  apply for asylum in France under threat of deportation, or be sent back to Dublin countries if they have fingerprints there. The deportation centre in Coquelles is always full and people are also dispatched to other centres. There is a very good group of Calais based activists who support people in detention. Few women and young children are sheltered by local people. Some minors have been put in structures for minors but the majority are sleeping out, hiding from the police and the fascists who are chasing them. The Calaisisens en colere are looking for migrants and taking photos and film, and telling the police where people are.  There are reports of a fascist attack at a roundabout with kids and young people beaten up. People are pushed further into hiding and condemned to invisibility.

Sorry for sharing this fascists shit, it to show what they are up to.

Care4Calais and Utopia56 have been providing essential aid such as sleeping bags and food. A food distribution by Utopia was interrupted by police, the kids who went to the distribution ran, the volunteers were identified by police and told they are not welcome. The French government’s policy in Calais is still zero tolerance, no camps no squats, no essential services such as food distributions, not even a shelter for the extreme cold. A 16 years old was treated in hospital for hypothermia, that we know of. Ministers held a meeting on Monday to announce new projects for Calais migrants. Despite the promise made by Bernard cazeneuve in November and the evidence of continued arrivals, the only government announcements were of the opening of a new CAO (Welcome and Orientation Centre) in the Pas-de-Calais (but not in the vicinity of the city of Calais ); the freeing up of some places in the CAO of Arras , and the increase of patrols by the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII) to convince Africans and Afghans to give up their dreams of Britain. Migrants never left, there have always been migrants sleeping in the Calais area though after the eviction they may not have numbered more than a few dozens. The associations estimate there are between 400 and 600 migrants in Calais at the end of January,  30 new people are estimated to arrive every day and the associations’ numbers are always conservative; so there are really lots of people, probably more than  the associations estimate, and numbers keep going up.

If the kids do not give up we should not give up either! Calais is not finished, there are hundreds of stubborn migrants who have refused ‘la main tendue’ of the French government and still want to go to England.

Many of the migrant kids are new, they have never been in Calais before. Some are returning after being evicted from the ‘jungle’ and let down by the UK and French authorities. Only 860 were allowed in the UK of the 1,952 present in Calais during the evicition and the British authorities have officially closed procedures in December. In addition to those who have already left the CAOMIE (Welcome and Orientation Centre for isolated minors) there could be another 1000+ minors in the streets of France as these centres for minors officially close the 31st January without clear plans for afterwards.

One of the Oromo kids who were sleeping near the Jules Ferry centre has died after returning to Calais, while trying to cross, crushed by several lorries early morning the 21st January. His name was John Sina. On Saturday, December 24, a 17-year-old  died of his injuries shortly after arriving at the hospital after a fall, presumably from a truck, during an attempt to cross near the ferry terminal in the port of Dunkirk. A 14-year-old boy from Afghanistan died late September after falling from a lorry, hit by a passing vehicle. He had  legal right to family reunion in the UK and was in the process but could not wait- he had a brother and two uncles living in the UK.  More recent deaths at the border:


After every death there is a vigil in Calais centre, in front of Park Richelieu. At the vigil for John some 40 local people turned up, some never seen before at pro-migrants events. Note that all demonstrations in Calais are forbidden, including vigils for the dead: a local activists was given 3 months suspended sentence for attending an ‘illegal demonstration’, after being arrested at a vigil! The solidarity movement in Calais is growing, not only the fascists: increasingly people are taking sides with the migrants, offer support in various ways, some shelter people in their own homes for a few days or a few weeks. For which they risk arrest and going to court for delit de solidarite! These people need support too, for paying court costs but also food costs, water and electricity bills increase when there are more people under one roof, and some people are unemployed, low waged or pensioners.

tree.jpgThe Tree of Wisdom at the squat Galloo, evicted in 2015

May be a difficult situation but is not new. In 2009 the French government destroyed all jungles and squats. In 2011 there were lots new arrivals and new occupations. In 2012 all new camps and squats were destroyed, leaving some 200 people sleeping rough, a very low number compared to 2011. In 2013 numbers went up again and new camps were created, a new wave of evictions followed; there were lots of new occupations and migrants struggles in 2014… Repression and destruction of camps do not stop people from coming. What is different now is that there are many more migrants coming to Europe and many more minors , and therefore to Calais, than ever before : the destruction of the shanty town near the Jules Ferry centre cannot stop them from coming. Not even essential services such as food distributions are allowed now – this is inhumane and we should campaign against. There is more police repression and the police have never been so violent; the state of emergency keeps getting renewed every 6 months; and the police work hand in glove with fascists such as the Calaisiens en colere. These distance themselves from neo-Nazis like the Sauvons Calais, claiming they are just concerned citizens and not fascists, unlike the Nazis they have no links to Hitler and historical fascism but they have gone closer and closer to the far right and their methods do not differ much. That is why I call them fascists. Their base is much larger than the traditional Nazis’, who unfortunately are still present and active. The Calaisiens en colere obey the police and the authorities, in which they also differ from the Nazis, who defy the established authority and claim some ‘revolutionary’ status. We need to go organized in order to stay safe.



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