~Evening update: After hearing of the morning actions, activists on the way back to the office decided to cycle by the fountain and take some pictures of it. More information about why all this makes sense, below, after the afternoon update.
~Afternoon update: This afternoon at 4pm, a ‘Council of Migrants’ was held at townhall, featuring discussions between the mayor and the various humanitarian organizations. Activists had first planned to hold an actual council of migrants outside of townhall, at the very same time. But the repression is so harsh that hardly anyone was ready to face the police. And police they would have faced, for guarding the entrance there were some 4 municipal police officers, and parked on the side were two national police cars, filled with other cops. The few activists that were there contented themselves with printing a leaflet and handing them out to the visitors. This is what it said:
TO THE COUNCIL AGAINST MIGRANTS
Today at 16h in front of townhall there will be a pacific demonstration against the Council of Migrants, a fraud which hides the negociation of various charity associations with the mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, who stated last summer she would make all migrants of Calais disappear. No migrant will be at that council, it is therefore surprising that it would have such a name. Nevertheless, for the benefit of the persons present at that fraud, and in the event that they would not be completely impervious to the human beings whose liberty and living conditions are decided by others, we saw it fit to present the mayor’s position to a few actual migrants.
Zabi, who comes from Afghanistan, and who doesn’t know Ms Bouchart, answers thusly to this un-verified prediction of the mayor: ‘We do not want to stay in Calais. We want to go to England. Let us pass.’ After having translated this in this man’s native language, it seems everyone agrees around us. Also, Sayeed, who comes from Iran, states: ‘We want to find shelter to be safe.’ Zabi insisted to add: ‘I want to go to England to make a claim. Maybe they deport us, maybe they don’t. It’s about England. Not France. To have papers in Italy or Greece doesn’t mean anything. They don’t help us with work, or house. That just means you can sleep in the streets.’
Yesterday, the CRS have intervened to clear the bridges area of all its inhabitants; including their tents. This morning, a new fence has been erected to stop migrants from returning. In France, a migrant cannot sleep under a bridge, even in the rain and the cold. This is inhuman, immoral, and criminal. Sadly, all this evil repression against migrants does not stop some from negotiating with the Calais townhall, in the self-deluding hope that this whole system can be fixed by talking with the culprits.
THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY: FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
Although this text is quite nice, our numbers were very low and activists did not stay long after 4pm, not feeling numerous enough to chant or deploy a banner, and thinking they could be more useful doing other things elsewhere. The results of the negociations will probably be publicized by the associations themselves, soon. These associations include Salam, Belle Etoile, and I even saw people from France Terre d’Asile and the UNHCR.-Matt
~Calais Migrant Solidarity this morning has received three reports by email of direct actions made in and around Calais in solidarity with the 100s of migrants in the area at the receiving end of constant police harassment and violence.
#1 ‘Several banners were last night hung from bridges over the A16 Dunkerque-Calais and the A26 Calais-Paris road reading ‘Solidarite avec les migrants’. We took these actions to draw attention to the less publicised conditions of migrants in Dunkerque and along the northern French coast who are forced to live in make shift shelters as they wait a chance to cross the channel to the UK. Many of these people are fleeing persecution and war that the EU is enagaged in. We believe these people have a right to move freely to safety and should be treated with respect not the constant police violence that has been evident these last years, months and particularly last weeks in Calais where migrants have been temporarily detained while their shelters are destroyed, only to be dumped back on the streets again. These state and police actions are inhuman, counter-productive and we believe illegal. No person is illegal – No borders are necessary – Freedom of movement for all’
#2 ‘The fountain opposite the town hall in Calais was this morning filled with harmless red die to symbolise the blood on the hands of French Immigration minister Eric Besson and UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson. Besson is the worst kind of politician, flitting from left to right, by his wife’s recent allegations a constant liar and cheat, seeking to advance his own position by standing by as ‘jungles’ in Calais are razed, calling them ‘inhuman conditions’, conditions his policies have created – making people seeking safety and help malnourished, unable to access basic medical care and despite his claims not given the possibility of making asylum claims with due process. Among these people by the police’s own reckoning about half are children, many seeking refuge from the wars we have created. We owe these people dignity, not the ‘delight’ expressed by Johnson as their basic shelters are destroyed and they are displaced yet again. The UK should take responsibility for the human fallout from its illegal wars and let these people into the UK. Calais is the shame of France, the UK and all of Europe. Governments have failed here, only solidarity between people on a human level can make any sense of this brutal daily trauma. No Borders! No Nations! Freedom of movement for all!’
#3 ‘ In solidarity with the migrants of Calais we would like to report that at around 3.30am this morning the Coquelles police/detention/law court complex south of Calais had it’s main vehicle gate and both pedestrian access gates locked shut with heavy duty chains and padlocks. This was an attempt, however brief it may have lasted, to disrupt the daily dawn mobilisation of CRS police units to terrorise migrants ‘jungles’ and squats with their gas and batons. Enough violence! Enough fascism on the streets of Europe! Fuck Besson! No Borders! No Nations!’
~If you have seen this Al Jazeera video, then you will know what this place is:
Again, sorry for the very poor quality. This is the bridges area that was cleared yesterday. They’re building a fence around it. That’s right. In France, sleeping under a bridge, in the rain and cold, is actually forbidden. I wonder what else they’ll fence up. Notice that all this is futile because all the migrants need to get back there is exactly what the above moron is using: a ladder, which we’d be happy to provide. This reminds me of a certain Ethiopian squat that was walled in; said wall only made police raids more difficult, because the migrants simply used their brains and fetched the kind of instrument I just mentioned. Townhall keeps demonstrating newer depths of stupidity and immorality.-Matt