UPDATES: Paris eviction/ Refugees return to Dunkirk (below the article)
Mawda’s funeral took place on the 30th May drawing a crowd of 1500 people at least. The grieving family expressed their gratitude for the great show of solidarity by Belgian citizens. Video:
Mawda was killed when Belgian police opened fire on a van carrying 30 refugees, including two families with four children under 6, during a chase of the van, the driver refused to stop. A bullet hit Mawda Shawri on the face, she was pronounced dead at her arrival in hospital. The family were not allowed in the ambulance and were arrested: they only heard of the death of their little girl two days later, after being held in a police cell. The incident took place the night between 16th and 17th May 2018.
The Kurdish community at Grande-Synthe near Dunkirk, where Mawda had been staying, held a spontaneous protest on the 17th and bloked the motorway before being dispersed by riot police. A vigil was held in Calais, as always the day after somebody dies at the border. Protests followed in several Belgian cities, and calls for the resignation of the Interior minister Jan Jambon.
Initially the police claimed the Mawda had been hit by a stray bullet. and the defence line is that they were firing at the wheels of the van. On the 21st May the family spoke at a press conference. The father, Shamden Ali Ahmed Shawri, claimed the van was being chased by four police cars, one on each side, and two behind. Mawda’s family were sitting in the front next to the driver, with another family in the back. During the chase they broke the windows in the back to show the police there were children in the vehicle. Mawda’s father saw the fatal shot came from a passenger in the police car driving to the left of the vehicle. He remembers seeing a lot of blood, his wife was covered in blood: it was Mawda’s. The shot had missed the driver and hit Mawda instead. A police officer attempted to give first aid, and an ambulance didn’t arrive for another 20 or 30 minutes! The parents said they were not allowed to join their child in the ambulance and only found out two days later, after being held in a police cell, that their daughter had died. Their lawyer Olivier Stein has asked that an independent parliamentary committee of inquiry looks into this case. The parquet of Mons (the magistrate in charge of preparing the court case) has accepted the parent’s version and dismissed the police’s version. The police who fired the shot remains at liberty and is being investigated by the police’s commission. Mawda’s parents and brother will be allowed to stay in Belgium but the rest of those travelling with them have been told they must leave after the funeral, the 30th of May, that is before the enqury gets under way apparently. #JusticeForMawda
What can you do? Use this letter template asking your MP to call the government to action: goo.gl/cNs8AV What happens at the UK border is the result of UK policies to stop migrants on the other side of the channel.
Mawda’s parents are Kurds who fled Iraq with her little brother, now 4 years old, after ISIS invaded; Mawda was born in Germany and the family were trying to cross to the UK where they have relatives. (via VZWGent4Humanity refugee support)
The 23rd May at least 600 people demonstrated in Brussels, asking for justice for Madwa. https://www.facebook.com/ministerie.van.agitatie/videos/10215925742602615/
On the 24th May, planned evictions of all Dunkirk sites went ahead.
“After much anticipation and many postponed warnings, the French authorities evicted all of the current sites in the Dunkirk area. They began with the emergency centre that was set up back in mid-winter. This centre had become “home” to over 300 people, with another 100 living slumped against its walls outside. The families and individuals were directed onto buses that would drive them to an unknown destination. Following this, the police and CRS turned their attention to the woodland where we operate, sending dozens of officers through the forest, turfing people out and destroying shelters. As always, there were unjustified arrests and blatant abuses of power. Fortunately, due to the warnings and advice of volunteers most people had already departed the previous day”. (Report by Mobile Refugee Support)
On occasion of the latest demonstration in Dunkirk, the 26th May, the Refugee Women’s Centre wrote: “We remember Mawda’s mother cuddling her while joining in English lessons with us, enthusiastic for the future she was trying to build for her family in a safe home. They had come here to escape violence in Iraq, but instead were made victims of a violent Europe. Today in Dunkirk, members of the Kurdish community, volunteers and local residents came together to honour Mawda’s life and protest her untimely death. The gathering was a solemn reminder of the cost of police brutality not only on individuals but on entire communities.”
The migrants in Dunkirk are now living in the woods, 80 people at least, more will come back from the temporary accommodation centres where they have been driven because they need to go to UK. There are no camps because they have just been destroyed, people are just sleeping rough, and no water because the mayor, Damine Careme, had it cut off when he opened the shelter, to discourage people from living in the woods. The area where people are settling is full of toxic fumes and noise from factories.
In Calais, segregation in the ‘jungles’ is complete. Migrants do not go to town any more because they are afraid of being arrested. Destruction of tents, blankets and people’s property by police are a daily occurrence. There is no water. Police violence is very high and there is a proliferation of guns in the camps, especially in the Afghan area, and guys with guns and cocaine addictions, and underage boys sleeping there. After the shooting in February, when 5 very young Eritreans nearly got killed, police did not catch anybody. Volunteers keep going to the jungles to bring humanitarian aid, else there would not be any witnesses. They continue to be heavily harassed by police, and sometimes thretened by smuglers and crazy guys. Their courage and perseverance are truly inspiring, and so is the courage of the people in the jungles, who keep smiling despite the situation. However they are not really happy. Many people have gone to England, the others have high hopes. There are quite a few women besides minors and very young people . Numbers have gone down. Tubrerculosis spreading. I find it intolerable that people are pushed in such conditions, and I blame not only the French State, that is behaving like a fascist State, but also the heads of the main associations, who collaborated with the eviction of the jungle in 2016, even signing a letter of approval, and this is the result. Now Jean Claude Lenoir, president of the association SALAM, has stopped going to meeting at the prefecture, better late than never, in protest at the appalling situation. Christian Salomè president of the Auberge des migrants keeps going to these meetings. To call them meeting is an improper definition, the authorities just tell the associations what they are going to do, they do not listen to what the associtaions say, they just rely on the associations to tell the migrants what they are gong to do. Vincent De Conink, responsable of the Calais mission of Secours Catholique (Caritas) has left, he was the most outspoken and willing to face the authorities.
The new daycentre of Secours Catholique is very good, and since the charities have vans to drive people to and from the jungle quite a few people have started going there. The Red Cross have an outpost in rue Verrotieres where the food distribution was, I will write elsewhere what I think of the Red Cross but the volunteers are nice, and it creates a bit of a social space in the wilderness. The Red Cross have a tracing service for missing migrants, many use it to find friends and family members. The new food distribution is two streets from Verrotieres, and the food is not bad, filling and with a lot of meat. Some barb wire has been cut off, some holes made in the fences and a back entrance has been made, entire parts of fence have been removed so it does not look so much like concentration camp now, and the police wathces from a distance; at the beginnng people did not want to go there and boycotted the new State food distribution run by la Vie Active , a big boycott action. The Refugee Community Kitchen keep cooking, and volunteers from various associatins keep driving around vans full of food, that they distribute near all the jungles and also in Dunkirk, and there is also a distribution in Calais centre for the few lucky ones who have papers, so the food situation is better than before, only the water is missing. Another thing that is missing is political action, apart from the solidarity march initiated by the Auberge des migrants, that may be a nice initiative but I cannot really trust the Auberge to lead the resistance, sometimes they defend the migrants, sometimes they side with the institutions. Radical action is disappearing.
Up to 2.500 men, women and children are surviving in the streets of Paris in appalling conditions. Two men have drown falling in the river. The Interior minister Collomb, sollecitated by the mayor of Paris Annie Hidalgo, promised to destroy the camps and re-house the people – which may help those who want to stay in France, but in the case of the numerous people with fingerprints in other countrie could result in more deportations.
UPDATE: Today 30th May a mass eviction took place. As usually happens, the refugees were raided at dawn, made wait for hours, shouted at and abused by numerous riot police (one cop per two refugees), no information was given, then they were deported on coaches to unknown destination. Video:
Afterwards, as usually happens, the tents and belongings left behind were destroyed. What will happen to the people? The lucky ones will end up in nice accommodation places, that is the minority. The vast majority will end up in sub-standard accommodation, dormitories, temporary accommodation places where they can stay up to three days. The most unlucky ones will be placed in detention centres and deported to other ‘safe’ third countries under Dublin regulations. Or worst, will be deported to Kabul, or to Khartom. Eventually many (the majority) will return to the streets, in the absence of any dignified and permanent solutions, the camps will start building up again, new people will arrive. As usually happens. Since the accommodation system in France is a shame, and nobody is willing to fix it. (I love it when the guy from France terre d’asile says in the video it is normal procedure, 30th time he saw it in a few years, no trouble everything quiet etc. FTdA is a collaborator with the State, needless to say).
Meanwhile in Dunkirk many people are returning and setting up camp in the woods. As Mobile Refugee Support write: “One week on from the full eviction, many people are already returning to Dunkirk. Today has again seen the arrival of new families and groups. The new “camp” is far from ideal and is situated in a hidden area of woodland behind an industrial plant”. On the 30th May THEY WERE EVICTED AGAIN and again put on coaches to unknown destination. The photo was taken a few hours before this last eviction by Mobile Refugee Support team.
A national demonstration is planned in Paris for the 2nd June against the new immigration law, that if passed will see asylum rights very much curtailed.