At the border the real victims are the people who need to cross it!

In recent weeks there has been a lot of sensationalist reporting on the number of migrants who are currently trying to make their way to the UK. Receiving less attention though is the brutality these people must endure during their attempts to make the journey. Each of those 1,000+ thwarted attempts represents a person coming into contact with police or security. The actions of these forces are often wholly disproportionate and verge on sadistic. CS gas is sprayed indiscriminately by French police on people that only want to leave their country.

This video, shot in May on the highway entrance to the Eurotunnel, provides some context for the everyday violence against migrants here in Calais. Keep in mind though that this is but one of the many places in which people experience intimidation and brutality, and that the most serious events happen where the police are sure there can be no witnesses.

Along with other videos published by Calais Migrant Solidarity this evidence depicts a program of intimidation and violence against migrants and the activists attempting to document the police brutality. This level of violence is not a one-off occurrence, but is rather systemic and reflects a policy decision from the French authorities to continue to intimidate and attack undocumented people as they attempt to cross to the UK as a deterrent.

This evidence we present contradicts French Interior Minster Bernard Cazeneuve’s claim that “the police in Calais, do their difficult mission with courage, dedication and respect”1 and provides tangible evidence of human rights violations committed by the French police. Every day and every night undocumented people in Calais are beaten, pepper sprayed, abused, and arrested by police that act with impunity and who fear no consequences for their disproportionate uses of force.

In 2011, Calais Migrant Solidarity submitted a dossier of police violence to the French Défenseur des Droits (Defender of Rights).2 This document compiled evidence of the everyday attacks and intimidation tactics used by the French police against the migrant population of Calais. Since then, multiple complaints have been made to the French state. A new dossier was sent in 2014 to the Defender of Rights, who is investigating the claims, as well as Human Rights Watch, who has since produced a document detailing the everyday human rights violations of migrants in Calais3. However, despite this, the authorities here have not altered their program of violence.

1 – Communiqué de presse de M. Bernard Cazeneuve. (20 janvier, 2015). Accusations publiques contre les forces de l’ordre formulées par l’association Human Rights Watch. http://www.interieur.gouv.fr/Actualites/Communiques/Accusations-publiques-contre-les-forces-de-l-ordre-formulees-par-l-association-Human-Rights-Watch

2– Calais Migrant Solidarity. (2011, June). Calais: This Border Kills. Retrieved from https://calaismigrantsolidarity.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/english-dossier.pdf

3– Human Rights Watch. (2015, January 20). France: Migrants, Asylum Seekers Abused and Destitute. Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/01/20/france-migrants-asylum-seekers-abused-and-destitute

The crisis is the border!

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The number of migrants that are being caught trying to cross to the UK by the Eurotunnel is grabbing sensationalist headlines and renewed attention from the British government. However, first and foremost, it is important to clarify that these numbers of 1,500 to 2,000 people are not in fact the number of people trying to cross in one time, but rather the total number of people caught in one night. After being caught, migrants are loaded onto a coach and then driven out of the Eurotunnel complex and released by the KFC from where they go to try again. People try many times in one night leading to these exaggerated figures. Nevertheless, we should not be surprised that the state is taking the chance to exploit this media hype to call for more security.

However, increasing security at the Eurotunnel again will not stop the people from trying and only cause more deaths in Calais. What can be seen now at the Eurotunnel is a direct result of the 15 million pound investment that the UK made last year in increasing security at the ferry port. Building the huge fence along the approach to the ferry terminal denied the people who could not pay smugglers to be put in the back of a truck any way to cross. This has forced them to now make the extremely dangerous journey to the Eurotunnel to try and catch a train. The Eurotunnel is already a militarized zone and to add more police and more fences will only increase the danger for people trying to cross, not in anyway prevent them from trying or in many cases making it.

Last night another Sudanese man lost his life after being run over by a truck, making that the eleventh death since June 1st, 2015! These are in addition to the countless injuries people are receiving from climbing and dropping from fences, being beaten and gassed by police, and being physically exhausted.

End the crisis and the killings in Calais! Move the British border to British soil! End Le Touquet and give people a dignified and safe way to cross to the UK!

Stop the killings in Calais!

The most recent death here in Calais was that of a young Eritrean woman hit by a car on the A16 while trying to cross the road. While this is being reported in the news as a terrible accident, information we have been getting from those who witnessed the tragedy shows otherwise. Witnesses say that immediately before this young woman lost her life she had been in contact with the police. They say that she along with a group of five other people been had been caught by police and then sprayed in their faces with CS gas. Afterward the people then fled across the highway one by one. However, because the gassing had irritated her eyes so much the young woman could not see when she went to cross the highway. This meant that she did not see and could not avoid the car speeding towards her which hit her.

While in this case the police’s actions directly lead to one woman losing her life, everyday they are putting people into extremely dangerous situations. We hear that the police routinely chase people onto the highways surrounding the train and force people to run in front of oncoming traffic to avoid being caught, gassed, and beaten. They also have been driving people far outside of Calais, even to the Belgian border, before kicking them out of the car and forcing them to walk back along the very busy highway where many people have been hit before.

The fact that there have been ten deaths since June 1st at the same time that there has been a massive increase in security at the ports is not mere coincidence. All the fences and police do not stop people from trying to make it to England, they just simply force them to take more and more dangerous routes to get there. The cynical solutions that the state is proposing will not have any effect. Migrants do not need “education” about the risks of trying to cross to England, they know them better than anyone. Also, lighting the highway will not do much if police are deliberately trying to force people in front of the oncoming traffic and gassing people so that they can no longer see.

People here are not losing their lives in freak accidents, these deaths are the full and intended consequences of the border regime and its thugs.

Open the border and stop the killings!

Here are a list of those who have lost their lives on this border in the past two months. There were fourteen deaths in Calais during 2014 and around thirty-five from the years before that.

July 24th : A young Eritrean woman hit by a car about 5:30 on the A16.

July 23rd : A teenager was found dead in the English part of the Eurotunnel at Folkestone.

July 19th : Houmed Moussa, an Eritrean teenager of 17, drowned on the site of Eurotunnel.

July 16th : Achrat Mohamad, a young Pakistani man of 23 years has died of his injuries from an accident in the Channel Tunnel on the night of July 13 to 14.

On the night of July 13th  to the 14th : A Sudanese man died trying to go to England by the Channel Tunnel.

July 7th : A Sudanese exile is found dead during the inspection of a freight train in the Channel Tunnel.

July 4th : Samir, an Eritrean baby died one hour after birth. Her mother, twenty years old, fell from the truck triggering a premature delivery at twenty-two weeks.

June 29th to 30th : The body of Zebiba is found along the A16 between Calais and Marck, struck on the highway. She had gone with two friends to try to go to England.

June 26th : Getenet Legese Yacob, an Ethiopian man of 32 years died while trying to climb onto a train going through the Channel Tunnel.

June 1st, 2015: At 4 am, a refugee is hit by a car on the A16 and dies.

Four Deaths Since The Start of June

Four people have died trying to cross the border into the UK in the last month. All of them appear to be a direct result of attempts to cross.

The most recent happened yesterday, on the 7th July, when a body was found in the Channel Tunnel, during an inspection of a freight shuttle. At the moment, it is believed he died from head injuries.

On the night of the 29th June Zebiba a 23 year old women from Eritrea was found dead on the side of the A16 between Calais and Marck. She had been staying the in the Women’s House in Jules Ferry.

On the 26th of June, Getenet Legese Yacob, a 32 year old man from Ethiopia was killed attempting to board a shuttle service in the Eurotunnel.

1st June at 4am, a man was hit by a car on the A16 and was killed.

 

Unlike what the media seems to think, what happened yesterday is not just important because it is causing more traffic jams and service delays. It is important because it is yet another life cut brutally short by the border regime. It is important because it means that 4 people have died trying to cross to the border since the start of June. It is important for so many reasons, but not because it may or may not have delayed someone’s train.

This Border Kills. One death would have been too many.

 

https://passeursdhospitalites.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/jusqua-quand-allons-nous-continuer-a-compter-les-morts-et-a-nous-taire/ (in French)

Evictions in Calais and Paris

Today the French police evicted the Squat Galloo and the jungle near the Leader Price supermarket. Opened in July 2014 by a collaoration between associations, migrants and activists, at one point home to over 300 people, Galloo was a space in Calais for people to gather, share a meal, charge phones, and rest. It was people’s home.

This morning at 6am the eviction at Galloo started by 10am the numbers of police had increased. The police surrounded the 12,000m square disused metal reclamation building blocking off all possible exits. People staying inside were given a limited time to collect possessions and were escorted from the building through a side entrance. Reports claim that 66 people were arrested and around 40 of them were taken to the detention center in Coqulles, although this is not confirmed. There is now security on the premises.

At the Leader Price Jungle, which had already experienced a semi-eviction earlier this year, scores of Gendarms cleared the area around the supermarket, forcing people from their sleeping spaces. There are reports of arrests from here aswell.

The new destination for the people ejected from their shelters, the open air prison on the outskirts of Calais, the new jungle surrounding the Jules Ferry Center. Those evicted today were those who had been resisting against the ‘voluntary’ move to the new day centre for over two months, having been pressured by the police and other state organisations to leave at the end of March. Here is a statement from the residents in Galloo, written back at the end of March to explain why they didn’t willingly move to the new centre.

This police operation was co-ordinated as well with the eviction of a large jungle in La Chapelle in Paris, which was home to over 350 people.

 

 

Someone killed on the A16

On Sunday night, a man was killed crossing the A16, around the exit for the Eurotunnel.

In the last years more and more people are being severely injured and killed on the major highways around Calais as they are being forced to take more and more risks trying to get to England.

This death, as are the others are a direct consequence of the British and European border regimes. We will not let this death be silenced. We will not rest until there is freedom of movement for all.