Archivi categoria: struggles

Calais: one year after ‘the jungle’

Action to Mark One Year anniversary of the Calais Jungle Demolition

Peter.Marshall

UPDATE Safe Passage for the Children of Calais, London, UK

London, UK. 24th October 2017. A large crowd hold up posters and placards before the Safe Passage rally outside Parliament before lobbying MPs on the anniversary of the destruction of the Calais Jungle. They urge them to provide safe and legal routes for the children in Calais, many of whom are entitled to come here to be reunited with their family and to fill the remaining 280 places allocated under the Dubs law but not yet filled 18 months after Parliament passed the law. They want the Home office to station an official in France to aid with these transfers and to work with the French to proved safe accommodation for all refugee children. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live News

Peter Marshall/Alamy Live Newshttps://www.facebook.com/peter.marshall.712/media_set?set=a.10159198166220467.1073742284.785785466&type=3&pnref=story

The UK government let Calais children down by stopping the Dubs scheme before the children who should go to the UK were transferred. They took only 300. Many of the children who were in the ‘jungle’, at least 1000, are still in France, some have crossed ‘illegally’ and at least three have died trying. Many have disappeared and nobody knows where they are.

From ‘jungle’ to dystopia

One year after the eviction of Calais ‘jungle’ people keep arriving in Calais and crossing from there to the UK, surviving in terrible conditions with the police chasing them. People have not ‘returned’, never left, and just a few days after the eviction a group of Afghans passed from Calais to the UK, but for sometimes they were few and invisible. Now they are many hundreds and they are everywhere. Numbers keep going up. Is it worth reminding the eviction was no solution? Calais is still there and over 90% commercial traffic to the UK still passes through Calais. In Grande-Synthe near Dunkirk too, after the ‘humanitarian’ camp was burned down during a fight between Kurdish and Afghan smugglers, people sleep in the woods, often trying to hide in small groups, which leaves them even more exposed to danger of all sorts. 500 – 600 people were in Grande-Synthe, 90% Kurdish people including 15 families with young children; a tiny minority of Afghans, Pakistanis and Iranians and a few Sudanese. The 19th /05 the camp was broken down for the umpteenth time, reports of police violence, and all the families forced on buses to unknown destination. The same thing happened just one month ago, all people were deported to CAO (temporary accommodation places) in South France, border with Spain: in a few days they came back. The authorities are partucularly keen of getting rid of families as pictures of little chldren sleeping in the woods tend to upset the general public.

https://www.facebook.com/MobileRefugeeSupport/photos/a.640458526159762.1073741828.638892649649683/667380590134222/?type=3&theater

In Calais too the 18th /05 the biggest camp was totally destroyed,  tents slashed, blankets and sleeping bags soaked in pepper spray, which renders them totally unusable. A report from a witness:

“So yesterday morning the CRS (riot cops dressed like robocops) came into jungle in Calais (or the biggest jungle..there are two main ones and countless smaller and hidden). What happened was routine. They opened, broke, cut and sprayed all the tents. Any left intact are rendered useless by choking fumes of pepper spray. They also took a 10 yrs old boy from his mother into ‘protective’ custody. Another day on the borders and the banality of border violence that is becoming normalised on both sides of the English channel”.

In the previous week there has been a sharp rise in police raids on the areas where people sleep, destruction of shelters/ blankets/ sleeping bags and personal belongings. Many people are arrested and taken to the detention centre at Coquelles – previously most arrests were of people trying to cross, now they are arresting people in the places where they are sleeping. Several destructions of improvised camps in a few days: the Afghan jungle near the LIDL supermarket at Transmarck, the camps near the hospital. Police violence is at an all-time high, with great use of gas grenades, pepper spray and batons, also against women and children, not only when they try to cross to the UK but also when they sleep, or any time they encounter the police really. French riot police (CRS) who are brutalizing the refugees are paid with money from the UK government, and the gas, and the barbed wire fences that run for miles around the ferry port and Eurostar terminals. In case you wonder where your taxes go. Police are also taking people’s shoes, by the dozens.

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=344357759358180&id=100013518766580

The French administration and security forces concluded an investigation indicating that there is “convincing evidence” that police used violence against people and children in the Jungle, Calais.

Human Rights Watch quotes the report reminding that the investigation was initiated in response to their report. The investigation confirmed — what HRW and volunteers from the field claimed – that the police used not only violence but also that they “routinely used chemical sprays on migrants, including children, while they were sleeping and in other circumstances in which they posed no threat, and regularly sprayed or confiscated sleeping bags, blankets, and clothing, apparently to press them to leave the area.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/23/calais-refugees-year-after-razing-of-camp?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Facebook

There would be urgent need for witnesses and especially people with cameras, as most of this violence does not get adequately reported. There are activists on the ground doing very good work but not very fond of cameras, some volunteers take pictures but documentation is still scarce. And there is always need of donations, and volunteers to sort and distribute. Calais has gone off the spotlight, the media circus has moved elsewhere, donations have dried up and the need has never been greater, with repeated destructions and cold coming. Refugee Community Kitchen (RCK) are struggling to feed everybody.

Numbers of refugees present in Calais: 800/1000 according to the mayor, 500 according to the prefect and 700/ 800 according to the associations but to make even an approximate count is impossible in the absence of any fixed structure. Refugee Community Kitchen are making 2700 meals per day, distributed twice in Calais once in Dunkirk (there are other associations doing meals there) so it is well over 2000 meals distributed a day in Calais, lunch and supper but not everybody goes to food distributions, i.e. the whole group of the Vietnamese and others, therefore there are well over 1000 people in Calais alone. Afghans are still the majority. Sudanese have made a big comeback after a series of police raids in Belgium, with mass arrests and the threat of deportation to Sudan. There are many Eritreans and Ethiopians including many Oromo who are persecuted in Ethiopia. Fewer minors but more women – around 60- 70, all from Eritrea and Ethiopia. The women sleep together, go to try together and protect each other. 4 families and two single mothers with young children, all accommodated by activists and local people. Other nationalities include Chad, Somalia, Vietnam, Arabs from Iraq and Iran, and lately Libyans escaping the civil war in their country. Many refugees are arriving in Calais from Germany since Germany is no longer so hospitable.

The camp of Norrent-Fontes in the Calais region has been finally evicted and destroyed the 18th September. It was inhabited by all African people: Eritreans, Ethiopians, Sudanese. There were many women Nobody was going to UK from there since the local lorry park had been closed but people still waited there, supported by the local association Terre d’Errance, that unlike other associations are militant, fight for people’s right and believe in equality. A group of people from the camp have found hospitality in a privately owned wood.

http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/249480/article/2017-10-20/il-autorise-les-migrants-vivre-dans-son-bois-je-ne-suis-pas-politique-je-fais-ca#

The situation in Calais is likely to become untenable, with many new people arriving numbers rising, some 800 people permanently in Calais, many others coming and going. They sleep near the points of passage and this is causing great competition between people of different nationalities, and big fights with great use of metal bars but also knives and the occasional pistol (plus anything that can function as a weapon, from wooden sticks to stones). Great increase in alcohol and drug abuse, mainly pharmaceutical and psychiatric drugs, cheap on the black market, that mixed with alcohol make people crazy. The amazing solidarity between migrants of different communities that used to characterize Calais and counter-acted the inevitable competition and tensions is at risk to become a memory. People fight for territory and eat in separate places, Afghans at a distribution near the hospital, Eritreans and Ethiopians near the stadium; the only mix distribution attended by different nationalities is in the ‘junge’ rue des Verrotiers; it is also attended by women and families.

The Locale managed by No Borders and other radical associations is the heart of the resistance  – it is a private space in the city centre that belongs to the Communist Party, who let it to No Borders. There people can rest, have a break from the police, use the internet, have free tea and coffee, meet friends. The place is very much liked and very well attended. There are English, French and Arabic classes. There is legal information and signposting, which is most important since most services in Calis have been closed. Volunteer are always needed, even to just to welcome people and make them feel comfortable. There is plenty of room for more initiatives if there are people to run them.

Please donate to help people survive the Winter:

https://www.gofundme.com/calais-winter-fund

The associations have won the right to distribute food and install some showers, after taking the racist Calais authorities to court, twice. 28 showers have been installed of which 14 are working and few, totally insufficient water points. Toilets are yet to be seen. No association, however, is demanding accommodation and the right to housing for all, though they have asked for the minors and the most vulnerable; neither they are complaining strongly enough against the police violence and destruction of humanitarian aid such as tents and blankets.

A year after the eviction and destruction of the shanty town, this is the result. Never forget the main associations in Calais collaborated with the eviction of the ‘jungle’ and their presidents even gave their written approval in an open letter to President Hollande. The English translation is in the footnotes.* What is happening now was totally predictable then, and the eviction of the ‘jungle’ should have been opposed altogether until real solutions were proposed for all the inhabitants.  http://www.secours-catholique.org/sites/scinternet/files/comm_presse/lettre_ouverte_au_president_de_la_republique_29_09_2016.pdf  

The work of distributing humanitarian aid is very important, without aid people would die, and the associations in Calais have done a really impressive job, considering the conditions in which they have been working and the total absence of the State and big NGOs, so please keep donating and volunteering. It is the politics of the associations I have a problem with not the aid distributions. At the moment the only warehouse is that of the Auberge, there is no alternative. The Care4Calais warehouse stopped activity after an arson attack (probably by fascists) but the head of Care4Calais is far less trustworthy than the head of Auberge’s. Clare Moseley made arbitrary accusations to the police against the people running the Kids Restaurant Jungle Book, as a result the Kids restaurant was raided by cops when it was full of kids, and a refugee and a fellow humanitarian worker were arrested, more than outrageous. The entire case against the jungle’s restaurants and shops that were raided by police ahead of the eviction, was largely based on Moseley’s accusations. Apologies for spending so much time on charitable associations, and attacking them from the left when they are already being attacked from the right-wing. The enemy is capitalism and imperialism, causing the ‘refugee crisis’ in the first place, and Fortress Europe, and the governments and their police, but the associations are part of the problem too when they collaborate with government and police in implementing policies that are against the interest of the refugees and migrants concerned, and against their will, like very clearly during the ‘jungle’s eviction, stage 1 and 2. I am not just angry, I’m really sad. What difference will the solidity movement make? What are many volunteers doing besides putting plasters on ever deeper, rotting and mortal wounds? Are volunteers happy to build a cardboard city, without any help or money from the government, just to see it destroyed one year later? The CAO system, where people are so violently pushed, is designed to fail the many; it does not meet the needs of those who do not want to remain in France, and in many cases it does not meet the needs of those who want to remain in France either. Quality of accommodation variates greatly, there are some nice places but mostly the accommodation is bad: cold buildings, no internet, bad furniture, not enough showers and toilets and often not even enough food. One thing all these ‘Centres d’accueil et orientation’ have in common: the orientation is absent, except when there are local associations and volunteers to provide some. In many cases people do not even have access to an interpreter in their own language, never mind legal advice but they are pressurized into making asylum applications in a set time, leading to an increase of refusals, which coupled with a rise in deportations poses a very serious risk to their lives. Particularly the Sudanese have much better chances to be given asylum in UK than in France. Many people are deported to Dublin countries, but when they go to CAO nobody tell them they can be dublined, and in many cases they are purposely misled: as it happened during the jungle’s eviction, the then Interior minister Cazeneuve gave an ‘oral reassurance’ – that was worth nothing, like everything that habitual lier says, but was carried around the camp by volunteers and associations. Some CAO are in or near urban areas but some are in the middle of nowhere and people find themselves isolated, utterly bored, lacking support and a community around, which is very bad for traumatized people. There has been an increase in self-harm especially amongst teenagers, and a minor has killed himself in a CAOMIE, CAO for unaccompanied minors; others have tried to kill themselves but survived. There has been a sequel of hunger strikes and protests in CAO and CAOMIE: against Dublin deportatons, bad living conditions, lack of information and long wait. Drop-out rate from CAO is very high and many, around 40% , prefer to return to the streets: if they leave they are no longer entitled to State support for 2 years, leaving them totally destitute, nevertheless many prefer to take their destiny into their own hands and many return to Calais to try and cross, or try from other places, or try their luck in other countries. The streets of France are full of people who have left CAO, thousands more arrive and end up sleeping in the streets too, exposed to police brutality and other dangers because there are never enough places and the CAO system is always saturated. However it is never too late, the demand for unconditional housing for all should be put forward again, and before people die of cold. At the moment government policies are of zero tolerance for camps and squats in the North of France, but there have been many evictions of migrants squats and Rrom camps in other parts of France, ahead of the trêve hivernale; that is the time during the cold season when evictions are forbidden, it begins the 1st November and ends the 31st March… except that under the state of emergency any camp or squat can be evicted any time (also legal squats) if it is believed to pose a ‘security issue’ – on the say-so of the police, rendering squatting much more difficult and autonomous camps totally unsteady.

The mayor of Grande Synthe Damien Careme is demanding the opening of another camp like that of La Liniere. Mind that humanitarian camp was run by Kurdish mafia, under the blind eyes of the association Afeji that was paid to run it, people lacked the bare essentials and women and children were sleeping with diapers because afraid to be raped if they went out their tiny windowless huts at night. Still better and less dangerous than sleeping in the woods without even a camp and nobody to see what happens. Particularly dangerous is the dispersal of people in small groups.

And the ‘problem’ is not only in Calais and Dunkirk but is all along the coast, in Paris, Brussels etc. What the authorities feared when they destroyed Calais ‘jungle’ has actually happened and people have spread all over the coast: Cherbourg, Le Havre, Dieppe, Caen, as far as Bilbao in the Basque Country, where there is a jungle with some 200 people in it, lots of police repression and a 30 hour journey to UK – there are No Borders activists in Bilbao. There are many people in Brussels trying to go to the UK from there, especially Sudanese, that have been subjected to police sweeps and mass arrests lately; many have been put in detention and a court order is stopping the Belgian government from deporting them back to Sudan but the government has appealed against the court decision. Follow on http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/. All what governments can think of is more repression and more police violence. Deportations in France are also on the increase, also to countries at war such as Sudan and Afghanistan. There is a flurry of deportations of refused asylum seekers to Afghanistan: in the past they were mostly left alone to live in destitution, since without status they cannot get work. There is also resistance, legal challenges, French activists going to the airports, and deportees and passengers refusing to sit down until the person who is to be deported is taken off the plane.  Many more are deported to third ‘safe’ countires under Dublin: these sometimes result in a chain of deportations to the country of origin, e.g. Norway and Finland deport Afghans who have been sent there by France back to Kabul.

Things are changing fast in Europe. A few weeks ago there was a mini-summit hosted by Macron. Leaders from Spain, Germany, 7 African leaders and the “prime minister” of Libya. They have agreed on a new strategy setting up hotspots ( basically detention centres) in Libya to try to stop people crossing the med to Italy.

http://www.infomigrants.net/…/eu-african-leaders-meet-in-pa…

http://www.infomigrants.net/…/migration-summit-offers-prosp…

The sweetener for this deal is €60 million from the EU in “financial aid” with military support to increase border controls.

Macron has announced that “there will be no one on the streets of Paris by Christmas”. There will be increased roundups of anyone who is Dublin who will then be held in detention centres. They will be returned to the country where their fingerprints were first taken.
The next most likely move will be to Norway to be deported back to Afghanistan. As the Norwegian government consider Afghanistan to be a safe country.

The Greek government have recently ruled that is safe to deported Syrians back to Turkey. Even though they are likely to be arrested and put in detention centres as soon as they arrive.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/…/greek-court-deems-turkey-safe…

Libya is completely lawless and basically run by various militias who hold refugees for ransom, sell them into slavery and sex trafficking networks. Minors go missing all the time and generally people are being raped and tortured even murdered at their captors pleasure.

https://www.amnesty.org/…/middle-east-a…/libya/report-libya/

The whole situation is utterly horrific.

 

 

Some images of the Grande-Synthe camp before it was destroyed.

I copy an edited report from an activist who is in Grande-Synthye:

” A new jungle has been established by migrants in Grand Sythne, 20 mins by car west of Dunkirk, close to the camp that was burned down. It’s in an oddly nice location or locations..basically in all the wooded areas in and around a outdoor activities area and picnic area with body of water and canals. It’s still used by locals including kayakers and wind surfers. The zero tolerance policy enforced by the French State since the eviction and destruction of the Calais Jungle almost a year ago has softened a little after they lost court ruling. As a result food distribution is allowed and a water point for drinking and washing has been installed. It’s also used to wash clothes. When the weather is OK lots of guys bath and wash clothes in the canal. The vast majority of people have no shelter beyond bits of plastic and tarp and what cover the trees provide. Every few days the cops come and confiscate any tents or covering they can find, the time varies between 5-10 am, they also count the people so forcefully wake them up, even for children asking for papers they no one has (this is an improvement from every day before the court ruling). There is fight between French State and Grand Sythne Mayor who want’s a new camp with shelters built, the French government want only to build a day centre with showers, just enough to adhere to their obligations under EU law.

 Food distribution happens twice a day, French NGO’s, Salam and Emuas on different days serve food at lunchtime. At 5.30 Refugee Community Kitchen come from l’auberge wharehouse in Calais, the are from UK.

 Clothes and sleeping bag distribution seems to be ad hoc and all deriving from UK via l’Auberge.

 MSF and another NGO Medicines du Monde come a few times a week to provide medical care. Predictably they refuse to do anything outside their remit, such as run people to dental clinic which is in Calais or bring a dentist.

 Dunkirk Women’s Centre come in every day and take one of the smaller car parks as women and kids area. They are three women from UK and brilliant doing anything and everything they can.

 Another small UK group come every day from Calais with generators and for a few hours everyone can charge phones and powerbanks. They are sound and very popular as you’d imagine. They’re the ones who’ve been bringin the tarp which the cops keep confiscating.

 There are no legal or info point or distribution.

 It’s pretty grim..the vast majority are having to try sleep through cold and most nights wet. It’s been raining for the last two hours, going to be a miserable night for everyone there. It’s also pretty shit how forgotten the migrants here are since Calais jungle eviction amid a year or outright nastiness brutality by the French state.

 I’ve been mucking in with the food distribution which has been mostly fun as everyone is in good spirits but for one day when it kicked off in the queue and knives got pulled and the families an away with their kids. I was asked to take the food to them and chocolate for the kids. This led to a rumour I was taking families to UK. A dangerous rumour!

I’m understandably getting asked lots of questions about Dublin rules and asylum process. So been helping people find their country guidance docs on home office website, show the right to remain site and getting them onto fb group that tops their phones up. I did this for a few hours one day with a lot sketchy looking stoney faced guys listening and watching. They now give me a smile when I pass. .it may not be trust but I think at least they know I’m nobody to worry about. I feel much more safe after that.

 Obviously questioning what I am doing here but making lots of friends. Including a few of the families who insist on sharing food with me. I helped some guys doing the beer run on Friday open a fence they where stuck behind, they gave me beer in thanks and they next day were telling everyone the story which brought me a lot of acceptance. Small things but things.

What can be done? (Lot of this is throwing ideas out there for others to consider)

 I think the glaring gap is information and is what people are asking for. With no much collective effort I think translating stuff on Dublin, Detention and country specific info drawn from home office country guidance to give people the info to make best shot at their first interview would be a good thing. It’s something I want to pursue if anyone else thinks the same and has any energy for. Obviously it would be best to put structure in place that others can take up. Welcome to Europe

Vehicles. The most frustrating thing here is not having a van, this is one of France”s three major ports and for miles around there is tons of plastic and tarp that could be skipped/tatted and taken to jungle to replace what the cops take away. There are lots of pallets that need to be collected for firewood and to build shelters. There is the dentist situation still unresolved, a car would solve it. Three guys have bad toothache and the only place they can go is Calais on a Monday and Tuesday but police controls at Calais station rule out going by train. There is a hospital driving team based with l’Auberge but they are already taking 10 people from Calais (the maximum the clinic will take). This and lots of other small important things a car would be real useful for.

As for volunteering with women’s centre. .they are happy to have any women who’d like to come over for a few weeks. They’d be really happy if folk could come even once in a while and do fun activities for the kids. They also reckon some activities for the men to counter the tension’s caused by boredom, trying for lorries unsuccessfully and miserable conditions. Maybe mobile cinema or showing champions league highlights on cinema screen…football is popular!

Paris

Demonstration by refugees and supporters, La Chapelle, Saturday 21st October (photo by Sarah Fenby Dixon)

Unprecedented and always rising numbers of people sleeping out in ever worsening conditions, among police raids and evictions of improvised camps. The ‘humanitarian centre’ at Porte la Chapelle managed by Emmaus is forever saturated. It funcions as funnel to the CAO system, people still queue all night to get in. Living conditions are squalid and people in the centre lack the bare essentials and basic information, e,g. regading Dublin deportations. Utopia56 who were helping inside the centre have recently pulled out because they say they could not work in such conditions, and continue offering essential aid elsewhere. A second similar camp with 50 capacity (single men) has opened in Cergy-Pointoise, Ile de France.

Donations for Paris: https://www.gofundme.com/4dwnptc

 

https://www.gofundme.com/4dwnptc

Notes

  • LETTER   English translation 
    Mr. President of the Republic,

    Last week, Ms Cosse and Mr Cazeneuve met our associations in order to present the plan to dismantle the Calais “jungle” of Calais where thousands of exiles live in pitiful conditions.
    We have informed the ministers that our organisations would support such a plan, and could go along with it, if all the measures to permit the protection and respect to the fundamental human rights of the people are guaranteed. You yourself, when you visited the site, reminded us that the State would find a worthy and effective solution to this humanitarian tragedy.
    However, there remains one unanswered question concerning the dismantlement of the Jungle: it regards the progressive disappearance of all the apparatus created over the last two years and comprises of the Jules Ferry “welcome” day centre and the centre of temporary “welcoming” (CAO)
    We hope that these facilities can continue to provide a humane and dignified solution in this very complex situation where exiles will attempt – regardless of their motivation – to travel to Great Britain from Calais.
    It is our wish that this apparatus remain until a humane and dignified solution can be brought to the very complex situation of exiles who wish to – whatever their motivation – to travel from the United Kingdom from Calais. Otherwise, we would return to exactly the situation that prevailed during the years after the closure of the Sangatte centre, the utter abandonment of hundreds of men, women and children living in the streets, woods and squats of Calais, even more at the mercy of the criminal smuggler networks and dangers of all sorts, both summer and winter.
    Nobody seriously believes that there will be no more attempts to reach the UK. No one seriously believe that this will lead to an overnight decline in migrants heading to Calais. So how to respond in a pragmatic and humane way to this difficult situation? It is on this question which we have worked for years, for a long time without any support from the State, for three years on a difficult road, for three years in a real partnership [with the State] 
    We cannot support or participate a dismantlement project which will annihilate of this the work while it remains useful.
    We demand of you, Mr President, to confirm the maintaining in place of the humanitarian assets of the Jules Ferry Center and the CAP whilst the migrant fluxes towards Calais continue and to make it so that the work of the public authorities with the associations remains a work of confidence and transparency.

    Please accept, Mr. President of the Republic, our highest consideration..

    Véronique Fayet, Présidente Secours Catholique – Caritas France
    Thierry Khun, Président Emmaüs France
    Christian Salomé, Président L’Auberge des Migrants
    Louis Gallois, Président FNARS
    Françoise Sivignon, Présidente MdM
    Paris, 29th September 2016

https://www.amnesty.fr/refugies-et-migrants/petitions/halte-aux-expulsions-vers-lafghanistan

https://medium.com/@AreYouSyrious/ays-daily-digest-05-10-17-number-of-afghans-returned-from-europe-nearly-tripled-fbcf799d44ba

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/10/european-governments-return-nearly-10000-afghans-to-risk-of-death-and-torture/

http://www.lacimade.org/france-accelere-expulsions-vers-lafghanistan/

https://www.facebook.com/chiara.lauvergnac/posts/10155221497064092

 

 

 

 

 

Police violence does not end with the migrants, all demonstrations are forbidden and a very peaceful gathering for peace was violently interrupted by riot police (CRS) with lots of arrests and broken bones.

https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/affrontements-pour-la-paix-a-calais-fighting-for-peace-in-calais/

 

A year after the eviction and destruction of the shanty town, this is the result. Never forget the major associations in Calais collaborated with the eviction of the ‘jungle’ and their presidents even gave their written approval. http://www.secours-catholique.org/sites/scinternet/files/comm_presse/lettre_ouverte_au_president_de_la_republique_29_09_2016.pdf What is happening now was totally predictable then, and the eviction should have been opposed altogether, until real solutions were proposed. 

https://www.change.org/p/prefets-et-maires-de-france-maires-ouvrez-les-nombreux-b%C3%A2timents-publics-vides-pour-loger-les-personnes-sans-abri/fbog/7403396?recruiter=7403396&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=autopublish

 

 

I

Vehicles. The most frustrating thing here is not having a van, this is one of France”s three major ports and for miles around there is tons of plastic and tarp that could be skipped/tatted and taken to jungle to replace what the cops take away. There is the dentist situation still unresolved a car would solve. Three guys have bad toothache and the only place they can go is Calais on a Monday and Tuesday but police control’s at Calais station rule out them going by train. There is a hospital driving team at l’auberge but they are already taking 10 people from Calais (the maximum the clinic will take). This and lots of other small important things a car would be real useful for.
Activities. I told Chiara (not Italian Chiara many of us know) from women’s centre I’d be sending this email and asked what they think would be useful. They’d be really happy if folk could come..even once, once in a while and do fun activities for the kids. They also reckon some activities for the men to counter the tension’s caused by boredom, trying for lorries unsuccessfully and miserable conditions. Maybe mobile cinema or showing champions league highlights on cinema screen..football is popular!
As for volunteering with women’s centre. .they are happy to have any women who’d like to come over for a few weeks. I’ll leave their email for anyone who wants to discuss with them.
Deportations increase, also to countries at war such as Sudan and Afghanistan
Annunci

Repression and resistance

Autonomous, self-organized demonstrations from the jungle

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There have been several autonomous, self-organized protests by people in the jungle in recent months. Their main demands: open the border, stop deportations and a safe home for all (safe and humane living conditions).
Actions, like blocking the motorway:

VIDEOS: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=xDx7gEjc0IE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NG0ESrMkhY

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Peaceful marches from the jungle to the centre of town, to put pressure on the French authorities and demand people’s rights:

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These peaceful demonstrations were very successful at the beginning – on one occasion the mayor of Calais even went to meet the protesters in front of the town hall, an unprecedented move. However the protests were soon met with increasing repression.

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Hundreds of refugees of all nationalities gather in front of the Town Hall. For some time there were gatherings like this every week, and up to three times per week.

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The Syrians organized a number of protests of their own. On one occasion they wanted to spend the night in front of the Town Hall, but  they were attacked by police and pushed back, in direction of the jungle. The drive is to keep people invisible and keep them segregated.

May be worth of notice that the self-organized peaceful protests, apart from steady support by few no borders activists, had little or no support from local association, anti-racists, international volunteers, for reasons I do not quite understand. May be an effect of the segregation? Many anti-racists refuse to accept the existence of the shantytown, and do not go there. Volunteers are more concerned with distributing humanitarian aid. Other reasons? Please feel free to comment.

For reports of the autonomous demonstrations, see https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/

 

Demonstration in London 12t September

Tens of thousands gathered in Whitehall under the slogan ‘REFUGEES WELCOME‘. The newly elected Labour  leader, Jeremy Corbyn, joined and did a speech.

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qncitZ4PQLo

Demonstration in Calais 12t September, to coincide with the one London

It was much smaller, just a few hundreds, but people took the centre of the town, despite efforts by riot police to stop the demonstration and push people back to the jungle  . Two contingents of protesters joined, managed to break through, avoiding the police cordons, and ended up holding a sit in and rally in the middle of Calais’s main street for about two hours, with speeches, chanting,  dancing.  They stayed there until they decided to leave.

 

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Report of the event by CMS (I re-publish in its entirety because it gives a very good description of what these self-orgnaized protests were like, and the increasing repression )

From Calais to London… Transnational demo for the freedom of movement

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Today saw a demonstration in Calais, organized by people in the jungle. The protest was planned to coincide with the massive rally held in London, and to bring attention back to the refugees already in Calais while the UK decides to accept more from overseas. Today’s march adds to the almost daily protests by people in Calais in the last week.

Early this afternoon a group of three hundred left the jungle and began walking into town. They were demanding an end to being forced to live in the jungle, freedom of movement for everyone, and to open the border to the UK. Many others joined during the way or in the centre of town. The protest brought together people from all the different migrant communities in the city. As is past through the jungle, with people singing dancing, chanting, playing music and calling to others to join in, it felt as much like a party as a protest.

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Calais’ mayor Natacha Bouchart, who yesterday put more pressure on the prefect to increase the policing of the recent wave of peaceful demonstrations, had fencing erected around the Mairie, and hired private security guards to stand behind it. Because of this, the demonstration, which in previous cases had rallied in front of the town hall, was this time stopped by the CRS just before getting there. The result was a stand off between protesters and police that saw the police use CS gas on the protesters, some of which were children.

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After this attack everyone sat down and began to hold a rally. People took turns speaking into the megaphones and leading chants, dancing, and singing. During this time the Syrians walked down from where they are staying in order to join the demonstration. This continued for around an hour until the police began to start pushing people back, trying to move them on. The protesters responded by running past their lines and into the center of Calais, where they occupied the Boulevard Jacquard. The police, while at first trying to prevent them from occupying the street eventually had to retreat and surrender the main shopping street to the group for a couple of hours while another rally was held. There was a lot of engagement here with the local Calais people who stopped to watch and listen to what the demonstrator’s were demanding.

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After the rally, people returned to the jungle, largely at a time of their choosing shouting all the way back. The feeling in the group was really positive as even though they had been stopped from marching down one street they were able to get around the police and occupy and disrupt Calais’ main shopping street. There was a lot of really positive reactions to the demonstration from the people of Calais, and it was really encouraging for the protesters to continue their struggle and demonstrations in the coming days

September 19, 2015

“Refugees Welcome” demo: why numbers aren’t everything

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It was organized by English and French volunteers, mainly London2Calais with Aubege des migrants and Secours catholique  The main problem is that it was organized without even consulting  the people in the jungle who had been organizing their own demonstrations for weeks – for reasons I do not quite understand. Many of the migrant activists boycotted it, as a result of being excluded from its organization. Many of the migrant activists boycotted it, as a result of being excluded from its organization. Despite that, it collected up to 5000 people between refugees, English supporters, local associations.  It is clear that the people in the jungle feel safer demonstrating with the support of White/ European people. The demonstration went to the ferry port and not to the centre of town, as the migrants  organizing their own demonstrations would have wanted, and thus it had very little visibility. It was mainly a big peaceful march from A to B,  without spectators, and the only action was to paint slogans on a fake wall that was later taken away. Only four migrants were invited to speak at the rally, that was mostly monopolized by people with papers.

 

At the same, time a group of 200 women went marching on their own and were stopped by police . It was the first demonstration by women only.

There was hardly a mention of the demo in the French media, no mention at all in the British media.

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21Wm18Otomw

I am aware that some do not agree with my, mainly negative, views on this event, and they are welcome to express their views if they so wish. I have even been accused of being divisive,but all I am lamenting in fact is the lack of unity The State and the authorities are very well organized and capable to repress people’s struggles, that is why they stay in power despite the fact that ‘we are many, they are few’. From our side, unity is strength, and divided we fall. And, most sadly, a  magic moment in which we could really put up a struggle in Calais and challenge the authorities has passed.

 

Evictions
The following Monday  planned evictions went ahead, with a lot of violence and total disrespect for migrants and associations .

 

 

 

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All 5 camps in town evicted in one day. Over 300 people were pushed into the jungle with violence and use of  CS gas, also on a sick man from Syria who could not move fast enough and collapsed after being tear gassed. The makeshift Syrian camps in the port area and by the church in Calais North were evicted, but also the Sudanese who were sleeping outside the old cold weather shelter (BCMO). The evictions went ahead despite the fact big fights had just happened in the jungle. The segregation in Calais is now complete and everybody is in the shantytown. The associations were given minimal time to help people move. Furthermore, the tents of the Eritreans who were past the bridge were evicted and destroyed without any warning, so people lost all their belongings.

https://www.facebook.com/care4calais/videos/1054050181294605/

Simultaneous demonstrations 17th October

 

Lively demonstrations on both sides of the Channel.

 

In Dover 500 people marched from the centre of town to the ferry port, blocking the traffic and causing major delays. Several migrant support organization were present, from Kent, Folkestone, London2Calais brought 3 coaches full of people, Brighton Antifa came.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJn-mcBWy5M

Protest in Calais organised by Stand Up To Racsim & refugee groups 17-10-15 Refugees marched around the town and then went to the port where they overwhelmed police and got inside. There was a stand off and a few scuffles.

Protest in Calais organised by Stand Up To Racsim & refugee groups / photo by Guy Smallman copyright

In Calais about 1000 people from the jungle marched with some 300 English supporters. The refugees took the lead of the demonstration and some 7-800 broke into the ferry port, families with children in the first line. Most of the English supporters followed. They were met by lines of police in riot gear who used tear gas to disperse them, even spraying the children. People got angry and threw gravel at the cops, there are no stones or other projectiles there. Some got in between and shouted to stop. It is clear to everybody present that the police used violence  first, even gassing  women and children. The debate between non-violent protesters and those who are prepared to fight the police was very lively. Eventually people decided to leave. There was a rally outside the ferry port, with music, inspiring speeches by refugees and dancing. Eventually everybody went back to the jungle.
Media silence was almost total, not even the local newspaper wrote a line despite having a journalist and a photographer there. It looks like  news are censored.
If anyone has film or photos of the families and children getting tear gassed please send them to me (my SD card broke and I have no pics of the demo).
VIDEO- it is pretty, but it does not show the tear gas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Z9qRa4Tmdw

Facist and racist  demonstrations

There were two marches of the Calaisiens en colere, a gruoup of local residents who claim to be ‘apolitical’ but in fact are very racist. Some of their leaders have links with the FN, the party of Le Pen. The first demonstration collected about 300 people, who marched in Calais North along the beach. The second,  31/10/2015, attracted about 1000 people who went marching through the centre of town.

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCdfgXPoWDU c

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More worrying, PEGIDA tried to organize a demonstration against migration and against Islam 08/11/15 with the local far right collective Sauvons Calais, the EDL, other far-right c groups. They were hoping to get 380 people, they only managed 60 but they ddmarrch and they did burn a Q’aran in the centre of town, under the eyes of the police who arrested no fash but arrested two anti-racists, one for no reason and one for nicking a flag from the fash, a third person was later charged with assaulting a policeman.

Full report here:

https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2015/11/09/pegida-demo-against-migration- heand-against-islam/

In the evening of the 08/11/2015 there was a mass action of migrants on the motorway trying to break the siege and go to England. Full report here:

A Night of Collective Defiance/ Une nuit de défiance collective

However the collective action on the motorway led to an escalation of police violence and the criminalisation of the No Borders movement, it was followed by a week of unrest and gas attacks on the jungle itself. We were under intense attack from the French State and police who had accused No Borders of inciting the riots, one of our commrades was arrested, see post above, and they were threatening to arrest others.

The next thing that happens is that terrorist attacks happen in Paris, and the state of emergency is proclaimed.

 

There were vigils and prayers in Calais jungle and in the jungle in Dunkerque, as the people who are fleeing Daesh / ISIL feel for the French people too.

 

During emergency all demonstration are forbidden and the demo on the 22/11/15 in solidarity with migrants and Sans Papiers was forbidden too, but people marched anyway, 500 people braved the riot police and were met on arrival by many more thousands, see a report here:

https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2015/11/24/solidarity-demo-with-and-of-sans-papiers-held-in-paris-at-the-weekend/