The ‘Calais 8’ were in court in Boulogne-sur-Mer on Monday 22nd. Theoretically they should all be free within the next 24 hours. All 8 were found guilty of breaching the transport code, their sentence, time served for the 6 jungle residents forced to sit in prison for a month and house arrest and €300 suspended fines for the 2 volunteers.
Unfortunately we have to qualify this great news with unverified reports that after release, the six people from Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria may be rearrested by the PAF and transferred to detention centres. If confirmed, this just shows the depths that the state is prepared to descend to to exact revenge and punish refugees for spontaneously organizing and resisting. It also merits a widespread reaction if confirmed.
Monday’s court proceedings unfolded much as expected, the strategy of the state prosecutor was clear, to turn a political demonstration by those first concerned into a show trial to criminalize the ‘No Borders’. He used the standard racist arguments that migrants must have been manipulated by No Borders, unable to organize and think for themselves. Also the trial seemed to represent a new opportunity for the authorities to attempt to criminalize any opposition by migrants to the border regime. The judge was determined to prove the links of the two French activists to a larger organisation conspiring behind the scenes (No Borders) but to no avail.
The prosecutor claimed the demonstration had all been a ‘complot’ hatched in the Jungle to hijack the ferry and then to somehow oblige P&O to take the hijackers to England. (Íf only it were that simple, I hear you thinking…) Of course this is a dream of many but given the energy that Britain and France are employing to deny undocumented people the chance to cross the border, it seems less and less a reality.
This action made the point for all. It was a beautiful action but it was never more than a protest. However, the Procureur still claimed it was a conspiracy towards international piracy that had been hatched in the jungle.
He even elaborated his very own part in it, claiming that he himself had been a witness to the action, in his own words he described walking in the port area as the events of the 23rd of January unfolded. Somewhat strangely nobody asked him why he happened to be walking in the highly secured Port Area, questions need to be asked? It’s not too late to arrest him surely!
In the present climate even this guilty verdict, feels like a small victory. We know the aims of the state and we can expect a lot more attempts to criminalize any dissent against their murderous policies, this ‘victory’ represents a small fissure in the edifice of their racist border regime, that fissure needs to be widened into a large crack by further courageous actions.
The following days may provide all of us with ample opportunities for resistance as the will of most politicians both right and ‘left’ is to demolish the camp, apart from the small part including the container concentration camp. According to the associations this demolition will destroy the homes of the 3,500 people living in the southern part of the camp. The state has deliberately lied saying that solutions exist for all in the ‘centres de repits’ which are reported to already be full. The containers are also nearly full, so ‘solutions’ may or may not exist for the 800 people the state has ‘counted’. This means around 2,700 people are being deliberately left unaccounted for by the state. They will be left entirely homeless facing even more police repression and with no place to go in the coming days. All of them have not given into the states blackmail and threats and have so far refused to leave .
Open the fucking borders, they are killing people!