Today approximately 500 people, mostly refugees, marched to the centre of Calais to protest for humane treatment and for the freedom of movement. The migrant-led demonstration occupied the car park directly outside the the Town Hall, where people are telling their stories and demanding that their voices be heard. The speakers are also denouncing police violence and the deaths at the border while at their backs a police line is protecting the entrance to the Town Hall. They are demanding that the UK opens the border and let them in. They are demanding that France gives decent accommodation to those who asked for asylum in France, instead they are still in the jungle. Additionally 176 people went on a food strike (refusing the one meal a day that they get from the government in the camp) three days ago, so they have been on hunger strike for three days now.
Migrant-led demonstrations of this scale have not been seen in Calais for a long time, and with 3500 or more migrant people in Calais are likely to get bigger. The people have decided that their protests will continue until they get a result. When Natalie Bouchart felt the pressure to speak to migrants for the first time yesterday she had requested that no further demonstrations occur, and will surely be surprised by the events of today. There is a strong migrant movement in Calais, and it cannot be ignored.
In the evening there was another gathering in front of the Town Hall to protest the deaths in the Mediterranean and Europe’s inhumane migration policies. About 100 Calais citizens, activists, volunteers from associations and migrant people attended. Instead of holding the traditional one minute silence they let out a strong cry to express their anger.