Search results for: court victory

Victory in court: two people aquitted of charges from a collective kitchen occupation

Two people facing charges of ‘degradation’ after squatting a kitchen in Calais previously used by Belle Etoile were acquitted this morning at the court of Boulogne-Sur-Mer

Belle Etoile, a local association serving lunch time meals for 10 years, decided to stop distributing food as of 28 Feb 2013 – refusing to continue to work as a prop for the authorities whilst conditions for people get worse.

So on March 1st, people occupied the empty building so that the space, as well as the remaining food, gas and equipment could be used by communities themselves autonomously.

But another local association Secours Catholic and the Bishop of Arras, who are responsible for the building, and filed a complaint against the occupants which resulted in a speedy and aggressive eviction on March 4th and arrest of everyone inside, including people with and without papers from Europe, Sudan and Afghanistan.

The complaint was supposedly against some damage of two screws in a door frame – however the result of the complaint involved cops smashing in the whole door. And the charge of ‘degradation’ then made against two of the occupants!

The prosecution near enough asked for the two to be acquitted, because of lack of evidence.

The complaint had been withdrawn before the trial, and Secours Catholic stood as witness conceding that the initial damage to the door was overestimated and the complaint had been made in haste with the feeling that it was manipulated by the police.

The complaint had also been against ‘illegal occupation’ – but the charge did not stick. Maybe at last the cops give up on the ‘illegal occupation’ charges, which *every time so far* people have won in the context of the brutal forced homeless of so many in Calais.

A Political Victory/ Une Victoire Politique

(ENG)

On Friday,  when the judge at Boulogne-sur-mer announced, three times that the trial of 8 friends was irregular the court room erupted into applause and cheering. Waiting outside were a brace of Police de l’Air et des Frontières (PAF) waiting to take 5 of them (the foreigners) to detention after they had been served with Obligation de Quitter la Territoire Français (OQTF). But these had already escaped and were not present to appreciate the announcement of their victory.

The judges had decided that there were too many irregularities and that the authorities had not followed procedure when arresting and detaining the 8 people on the roof of an abandoned building in the centre of Calais on Sunday the 27th April.

This decision marks a political victory for our movement at a time when authorities using the state of emergency arogantly permit themselves to use all means of violence and coersion to impose their rascist politics on people in Calais and the Jungle.

In defiance of the `zero-tolerance of squats` in this city, imposed by the mayor, Natasha Bouchart, the prefecture and co, The Collective ‘Salut o Toi’ opened a building on the weekend of 26-27April. Banners hung on the facade of the building read ‘Une toit pour tous.’ and ‘Amitié entre les Peuples‘ while supporters of the action on the outside handed out pamphlets to the passers by while others filmed the police.

This action was meant to provoke a reaction from the `authorities`, according to Phillipe Mignonet ‘Natascha Bouchart had contacted Bernard Cazeneuve’ the minister of the interior after which the order to evacuate the squat was given, without any respect of any legal procedure. CRS, lots of them, made a cordon around the building whilst other police types armed with a battering ram tried to batter down the door. After failing to budge the bomb proof barricades they smashed a window at street level to enter the building and gain access to the roof where 8 people had gathered and were subsequently violently arrested.

They were put on garde à vue (GAV) which was extended to 48hours after political pressure from ‘high up’ to have a comparution immédiate (fast trial) when the prosecuter initially had indicated that there was no need to extend the GAV nor to have a comparution immediate. This put into question the independance of the judicial authority, indeed”the prosecutors department doesn’t comply the exigence of independance towards the executive power” as frequently repeated by the European Court of Human Rights.

During the initial 24hours of GAV the people were not informed of their rights ; to an interpreter, to see a lawyer, to see a doctor or to contact someone they are close to, neither had they been explicitly asked to give their photos, fingerprints and DNA.

Initially the activists were charged with violation de domicile (violating a domicile) which was soon dropped when it was realised that the building was abandoned, and dégradation en réunion (degradation in a group) but soon these charges were changed to degradation en reunion and refusal to submit to giving their DNA, fingerprints and photos.

At the end of the GAV the people were taken to see the Judge of Liberty and Detention (JLD) to see if they were to be freed or not, by this time the friends, by the counsel of their lawyers, had given their identities. Five foreigners and three French nationals went before the JLD, but only the French were released the other five were taken to detention to garantee their presence at the trial which was to be held the next day, Wednesday 30 March.

Wednesday saw the next installment of this masquerade of justice when three from the five people who had been detained in prison could not be transported from prison to court because of a lack of staff and organisation.

Instead, after a long wait, an audience was organised in a small room with five present and in person to stand trial while a video conference link to the prison where the other three were, was set up. From the begining the lawyers for our team manifested their shock at the massive presence of police, some with automatic weapons in the small room. The three who were not present stated that they wanted to stand trial that day and to be present in person in front of the court and it was the incompetence of the state that they could not be. This resulted in the demand for their immediate release from prison and the trial being postponed until Friday 1 April. The judge, dismayed by the absurdity of the situation, granted their release after the lawyers heavily insisted for a reconsideration of their detention. By the end of the night everyone was free.

Friday 1 April, the court aknowledged the many irregularities in the way the police had conducted themselves during the arrest and the GAV.

To put this victory into context, the month of March has seen the destruction of the south part of the Jungle, the homes of over two thousand people : children, women, men and families were smashed to the ground and thrown away into skips by workers and diggers protected by hundreds of CRS for three weeks until all that is left is a wasteland. This has been an act of terrorism, by a state that decries terrorism in the media, whereas the voiceless have to sew their mouthes together and starve themselves in order to be heard, as nine people did for 24 days, 2 March – 26 March.

This action is a way to shine a light on the systematic destruction of homes and the segregation that exists in Calais to denounce the injustices of this racist, fascist political system.

 

(FR)

Vendredi, quand la juge de Boulogne-sur-Mer a annoncée, en répétant trois fois, que le procès de 8 amis était irrégulier, cris de joie e applaudissements ont retentis dans la salle d’audience. Dehors un cordon de la Police de l’Air et des Frontières (PAF) attendait pour embarquer cinq d’entre eux qui avaient reçu une Obligation de Quitter le Territoire Français (OQTF), mais celles-ci s’étaient déjà enfuies et elles n’étaient donc pas présentes pour apprécier l’annonce de leur victoire.

Les juges ont décidé qu’il y avait trop d’irrégularités et que les autorités n’avaient pas suivi les procédures pour l’arrestation et la détention de 8 personnes présentes sur le toit d’un immeuble abandonné du centre ville de Calais le dimanche 27 Avril.

Cette nouvelle marque une victoire politique pour notre mouvement à un moment où les autorités se servent de l’état d’urgence pour se permettre avec arrogance de se servir de tous les moyens de violence et de coercition pour imposer leur politique raciste à Calais et à la Jungle.

En défiant la « tolérence zero pour les squats » dans cette ville, imposée par la maire Natasha Bouchard, le collectif « Salut o Toi » a ouvert un immeuble le weekend du 26-27 avril. Des banderolles accrochées sur la facades disaient « Un toit pour tous » et « Amitié entre les Peuples », alors que des soutiens à l’action restés dehors distribuaient des tracts aux passants pendant que d’autres filmaient la police.

Cette action visait à provoquer une réaction des « autorités », et selon Phillipe Mignonet « Natasha Bouchart a contacté Bernard Cazeneuve », le ministre de l’intérieur, après quoi l’ordre d’évacuer le squat a été donné, sans même contacter le propriétaire. Des CRS en nombre ont fait un cordon autour du bâtiment pendant que d’autres types de police s’acharnaient sur la porte armés d’un bélier. Après avoir echoué à bouger les barricardes ils ont défoncé une fenêtre au niveau de la rue pour entrer dans le batiment et prendre accès au toit où 8 personnes étaient réunies, et se sont faites violemment interpellées.

Leur garde à vue a été prolongée à 48 heures suite à des pression émanant “d’en haut”, en effet le parquet n’avait initialement pas prévu la prolongation de la garde à vue ni la comparution immédiate. Cela questionne sérieusement sur l’indépendance de l’autorité judiciaire, en effet “en France, le parquet ne rempli pas l’exigence d’indépendance par rapport au pouvoir exécutif” comme fréquemment répété par la Cour Européenne des Droits de l’Homme.

Pendant les premières 24 heures de garde à vue les personnes n’ont pas été informées de leurs droits, elles n’ont pas pu voir d’interprète, ni d’avocat, ni de docteur ni n’ont pu contacter aucun proche, ils ne se sont pas vu explicitement demandés non plus de donner leur photo, empruntes et ADN.

Initialement les activistes ont été poursuivi pour violation de domicile, charge qui n’a pas été retenue puisqu’il a été rapidment constaté que le batiment était abandonné, et dégradation en réunion. Les poursuites finales seront : dégradation en réunion et refus de se soumettre au prélèvement ADN, d’empreintes digitales et de photos.

A la fin de la garde à vue les personnes ont été présentées devant le Juge des Libertés et de la Détention (JLD) qui devait statuer sur une éventuelle détention jusqu’au procès, à partir de ce moment les ami-es, avisés par leur avocate, avaient donné leurs identités. Cinq étranger-ères et trois français-es ont comparu devant le JLD, mais seul-es les français-es ont été relaché-es, les cinq autres ont été ammenés en détention dans l’attente du procès qui aurait lieu le jour suivant, Mercredi 30 Mars.

Mercredi la masquarade judiciaire est arrivée à son sumum lorsque trois personnes qui étaient en prison pour garantir leur présence au procès n’ont pas pu être transportées de la prison au tribunal pour cause d’un manque de personnel et d’organisation. Après une longue attente, une audience en visio-conférence avec la prison a finalement été organisée dans une petite salle.

Dès le début nos avocat-e-s ont manifesté leur aberation devant la présence massive de policiers, dont certaines avec des armes automatiques et  l’incompétence et l’abusrdité du système judiciaire. En effet les trois qui n’étaient pas présentes en personne ont déclaré vouloir être jugées en ce jour mais ont refusés, confomément à leurs droits d’être jugées par visio-conférence. Les avocats ont alors plaidé pour leur libération jusqu’au procès reporté au vendredi 1er avril. Les juges, affligés par le ridicule de la situation avaient demandé le maintien en détention avant d’ordonner leur remise en liberté après que les avocats aient lourdement insistés pour leur libération. Les cinq détenus ont été libérés dans la nuit.

Vendredi 1 Avril, le tribunal a reconnu les nombreuses irregularités dans la procédure de l’arrestation à la garde à vue.

Cette victoire se place dans le contexte de la destruction de toute la partie sud de la Jungle, des maisons de plus de deux mille personnes, enfants, femmes, hommes et familles qui ont été détruites et balancées en lambeaux par des travailleurs et des buldozers. Ces derniers ont été protégés par des centaines de CRS pendant trois semaines, jusqu’à ce qu’il ne reste plus qu’un terrain vague. Cette expulsion dite “humanitaire” est un acte de terrorisme perpétré par un Etat qui prétend combattre le terrorisme.

Cette action, en cette fin de la trêve hivernale a été une manière de mettre en lumière la destruction systématique des abris et la ségrégation qui existe à Calais, et de dénoncer les injustices de ce système politique raciste et fasciste.

Le collectif ‘Salut O Toit’ a choisi un ancien refuge pour personnes sans abris qui  est vide depuis plusieurs années, en rendant à cet espace sa fonction originelle, nous pointons du doigt l’échec des gouvernement quant à l’hébergement de personnes sans abris à Calais, et tentons de montrer que lorsque les personnes sans abris et ceux qui les soutiennent travaillent ensemble, nous parvenons à créer des initiatives réellement inspirantes.

 

VICTORY NOW! The fight continues / VICTOIRE! La lutte continue

549eddb1-ec75-4cd2-a67b-27a7fe992248

Today, in Boulougne and in Nice, two No Borders migrant solidarity activists were shown to be not guilty of almost all counts presented against them in court. The false accusation by the police of inciting riots and violence, offence and rebellion—not believed by the judges—were nothing more than acts of repression of solidarity and racist rhetoric trying to show migrants as unable to protest on their own behalf. Today the legal rulings showed this.

We don’t delude ourselves, we know that border repression happens daily, often in silence. Even now, in Boulogne, our comrade received a one month suspended sentence for refusal to submit DNA. Recently, a man was sentenced to a month in prison, accused of throwing stones during clashes, a charge he denies. Every day, fifty or so migrants are imprisoned in detention centres; humans are beaten, killed too many times in public ignorance and in secret. It is because such violence is always there that we welcome this legal victory.

This is an important victory because it shows that even in an environment of fear, hostility, and xenophobia bred in the state of emergency in France and an increasingly reinforced Fortress Europe, we can continue to support each other and fight together whether with or without papers. Solidarity is not a crime!

Solidarity is sharing food outside the courtroom. Solidarity is banners denouncing the border regime. Solidarity is coming together in cities across France, Europe, and everywhere in the world to be with one another in celebration and in struggle. Solidarity puts people first, which the state and the capitalist system do not.

Violence by the police continues and the border kills. If you read the news of Calais, you read about that. In the face of this, it can sometimes seem daunting to continue with the struggle. But people trying to cross, despite being beaten and threatened, in increasingly difficult conditions continue to struggle! We must continue to struggle with them ! Everyday there are victories as well. Today it is two victories in court. Daily it is people coming together, living together, eating and laughing together. It is people organizing protests, cutting fences, crossing the border, and undermining the border regime!

Although governments are working hard to make people without papers illegal, working hard to criminalize those who show support for those without papers, No Borders will continue to denounce this repression, and question the rules by which the legal system decides who is « good » and who is « bad », who is legal and who is not. The arrests were devices used to take our time and energy for legal battles rather than those in the jungles and on the borders! But today we have our comrades back! The two victories in court serve as a reminder: Solidarity is victory!

b13e1391-7e67-4444-a782-2f93b859146f

Aujourd’hui, à Boulogne comme à Nice, deux activistes de No Borders Migrant Solidarity ont été relaxéEs de quasiment tous les chefs d’accusations dont ils étaient accusés lors de deux procès différents. Les fausses accusations d’incitation aux émeutes ou de violence, outrage et rébellion, émises par la police – accusations réfutées par les juges- n’étaient autres que des actes de répressions de solidarité. Cette rhétorique raciste cherchait à minimiser la capacité de mobilisation des réfugiés, incapables selon eux d’agir selon leurs grès. Aujourd’hui, ces décisions de justice ont démonté ce raisonnement.

Sans se leurrer, nous savons que la répression aux frontières est quotidienne, qu’elle se fait souvent dans le silence. À Boulogne, notre camarade a malgré tout écopé d’une peine d’un mois d’emprisonnement avec sursis pour refus de se soumettre aux identifications ADN. Très récemment, une personne a été condamnée à un mois ferme, accusée d’avoir jeté des pierres lors d’affrontements, accusation qu’il renie. Et tous les jours, une cinquantaine sans-papiers sont emprisonnéEs en centre de rétention, des humainEs sont parfois battuEs, trop de fois tuéEs dans l’ignorance et dans le secret. C’est parce que ces violences sont toujours là que nous nous réjouissons de cette victoire juridique.

C’est une victoire importante car elle montre que malgré l’environnement anxiogène où règne peur et xénophobie, que malgré l’état d’urgence décrété en France et la Forteresse Europe plus cloisonnée que jamais, nous pouvons continuer à nous soutenir les unEs les autres et nous battre côte-à-côte, avec ou sans papiers. La solidarité n’est pas un crime!

La solidarité, c’est partager un repas devant une cour de justice. La solidarité, ce sont des bannières dénonçant le régime des frontières. La solidarité, c’est se rassembler aux quatre coins de France, d’Europe et partout ailleurs pour ensemble célébrer nos luttes et nos victoires. La solidarité met l’HumainE au centre du jeu quand l’État et le système capitaliste les divisent.

Les violences policières n’ont pas cessées et les frontières tuent toujours. Vous le savez si vous lisez les nouvelles de Calais. Face à cela, il peut parfois être éprouvant de poursuivre la lutte. Mais il est des gens qui, jour après jour, essayent de traverser les frontières, malgré les coups, malgré les menaces. Dans des conditions toujours plus difficiles, ils n’abandonnent pas leur lutte! Nous devons continuer à nous battre à leurs côtés! Des victoires naissent tous les jours. Aujourd’hui, ce sont deux victoires judiciaires. Au quotidien, ce sont des personnes qui bougent ensemble, vivent ensemble, mangent et rient ensemble. Ce sont des personnes qui organisent des manifestations, coupent des clôtures, traversent la frontière, ébranlant ce régime.

Bien que les gouvernements s’évertuent à faire des sans-papiers des illégitimes et à criminaliser ceux qui les soutiennent, No Borders continuera à dénoncer cette répression, et à remettre en question les règles selon lesquelles le système juridique décide qui est « bon » et qui « mauvais » et qui est légal et qui ne l’est pas. Ces arrestations furent commandées afin de concentrer nos énergies et notre temps sur des batailles juridiques pour mieux nous écarter de nos combats dans la Jungle et aux frontières. Mais aujourd’hui, nos camarades sont de retour! Et suite à ces deux victoires juridiques, nous voulons crier haut et fort: Solidarité = Victoire!

—————————————————-

Σήμερα, στη Βουλώνη και στη Νίκαια, δυο No Borders ακτιβιστές, αλληλέγγυοι με τους μετανάστες, απεδείχθησαν αθώοι στο δικαστήριο. Η ψευδής κατηγορία της αστυνομίας για υποκίνηση ταραχών, την οποία και δε δέχτηκαν οι δικαστές, δεν ήταν τίποτα παραπάνω από πράξη καταστολής της αλληλεγγύης και ρατσιστική ρητορική, προσπαθώντας να δείξουν ότι οι μετανάστες είναι ανίκανοι να διαμαρτυρηθούν για δικό τους λογαριασμό κι αυτό αποδείχθηκε περίτρανα με τις σημερινές νομικές αποφάσεις. Αυτή είναι μια σημαντική νίκη επειδή δείχνει ότι ακόμη και σ’ ένα περιβάλλον φόβου, εχθρότητας και ξενοφοβίας, που εκτρέφεται σε κατάσταση εκτάκτου ανάγκης στη Γαλλία και σε μια ολοένα και πιο ενισχυμένη Ευρώπη-Φρούριο, μπορούμε να συνεχίσουμε να στηρίζουμε ο ένας τον άλλο και να πολεμήσουμε μαζί, με ή χωρίς χαρτιά. Η αλληλεγγύη δεν είναι έγκλημα! Αλληλεγγύη είναι το να μοιράζεσαι φαγητό έξω από τη δικαστική αίθουσα. Αλληλεγγύη είναι τα πανό που καταγγέλλουν το καθεστώς των συνόρων. Αλληλεγγύη είναι η συσπείρωση σε πόλεις της Γαλλίας, της Ευρώπης και όλου του κόσμου, όντας ενωμένοι στη γιορτή και στον αγώνα. Η αλληλεγγύη βάζει πρώτο τον άνθρωπο, κάτι που το κράτος και το καπιταλιστικό σύστημα δεν κάνουν. Η αστυνομική βία συνεχίζεται και τα σύνορα σκοτώνουν. Τα νέα του Καλαί μιλούν συνεχώς γι’ αυτό. Παρουσία αυτής, φαίνεται μερικές φορές πολύ δύσκολο να συνεχίσουμε τη μάχη. Αλλά οι άνθρωποι που προσπαθούν να περάσουν τα σύνορα, παρά τους ξυλοδαρμούς και τις απειλές και τις ολοένα και πιο δύσκολες συνθήκες, συνεχίζουν να παλεύουν! Εμείς πρέπει να συνεχίσουμε να παλεύουμε μαζί τους! Κάθε μέρα σημειώνονται νίκες όπως αυτή. Σήμερα είχαμε δυο νίκες στο δικαστήριο. Καθημερινά, οι άνθρωποι ενώνονται, ζουν μαζί, τρώνε και γελάνε μαζί. Και είναι αυτοί οι ίδιοι άνθρωποι, που οργανώνουν διαμαρτυρίες, ρίχνουν φράχτες, διασχίζουν τα σύνορα και υπονομεύουν το καθεστώς των συνόρων! Παρά τις σκληρές προσπάθειες των κυβερνήσεων να καταστήσουν τους ανθρώπους χωρίς χαρτιά, παράνομους και να ενοχοποιήσουν αυτούς που τους στηρίζουν, οι No Borders θα συνεχίσουν να αποποιούνται αυτής της καταστολής. Οι συλλήψεις είναι μηχανισμοί που χρησιμοποιούνται για να ξοδεύουμε το χρόνο μας και την ενέργεια μας, στις δικαστικές μάχες αντί για τις μάχες μέσα στα στρατόπεδα συγκέντρωσης και στα σύνορα. Αλλά σήμερα πήραμε τους συντρόφους μας πίσω! Οι δυο νίκες στο δικαστήριο είναι εδώ για να μας υπενθυμίζουν ότι Η ΑΛΛΗΛΕΓΓΥΗ ΝΙΚΑ!

Global No Border squat in court today

images
The global no border squat faced court again today, for the third time. This time arguments were heard. The prosecution, on behalf of the Mayor makes claims for rent and damages – with figures pulled out of thin air, and no authorization to sue by the Municipality, who owns the building (empty for several years). Allegations are made against an occupant for damage to the door – without an ounce of evidence.

The defence argues occupants are many, some without papers and some claiming asylum in France. All are forced to live extremely harsh conditions without access to housing and, if evicted, there is no recourse for anyone to be re-homed. All will have to live on the street. They ask for another 2 months according Article 62, of Law 91-650 of 9 July 1991 of the Code of Civil Procedure : (for future squatters out there, its useful to know … )

“If the eviction is on premises used for the principal dwelling of the person being evicted or any occupant’s head, it can not take place without prejudice to the provisions of Articles L.613-1 to L.613-5 Code of Construction and Housing, at the expiration of a period of two months following the command. however, by special reasoned decision, the judge can, especially when the people whose expulsion has ordered entered the premises by assault, reduce or eliminate this delay.

When the expulsion of the person concerned would have consequences of an exceptional hardness, especially because of the period of that year or weather conditions, the period may be extended by the judge for a term not exceeding three months .

From the command having to vacate the premises, the bailiff in charge of the execution of the expulsion order must inform the representative of the State in the Department for consideration of the application for relocation of the occupant within the departmental plan of action for the housing disadvantaged people under the Act n ° 90-449 of 31 May 1990 concerning the implementation of the right to housing.”

And as for the door, the damage was caused by the cops (sound familiar) smashing it in when trying to serve papers from the bailiff to occupants inside (despite the big letter box clearly in the middle of the door). The prosecution had no evidence when, or by who, the damage was caused.

The judge adjourned the decision until 18th July.

Refus d’entrée : criminalizing solidarity

(En français ici : Refus d’entrée : criminaliser la solidarité)

In France, two small victories have been won against the French government’s attempt to criminalise solidarity with migrants. The Administrative Tribunal court has overturned two French police orders banning European citizens from France because of their support for migrants in Calais. The police ban was ruled illegal. This court win could affect dozens more people placed on ban lists and surveillance databases by the French police.

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERA

Ferry port in Calais

The Calais ban list

In March 2017, D was at St Pancras Station in London to take the Eurostar train to Calais. He was travelling to participate in a public meeting about the role of private corporations in the multi-million euro business of securing the France/UK border. Instead, he was stopped at passport control and led to a small room by the French border police. After a while conferring on the phone, they printed out an official document called a “Refus d’Entree” which informed him he was banned from entering France.

This kind of treatment is all too common for non-European travellers. But D holds a European passport. The document stated that he was on a French police database of people classified as a “danger” to “public order or national security”. For good measure, the police told him he would “have problems” travelling to other countries too, as his name was now flagged on the Schengen Information System (SIS) database used by border police across Europe.

D’s case was not an isolated incident. Also in March 2017 X was traveling to Belgium on a Bus and was stopped by the French border police in the port at Dover, and after about 1 hour waiting, X was told they would not be allowed to enter France and given a piece of paper explaining simply that they were a ‘danger to public order or national security’. This was not the first time X had problems entering France in October 2016 X was stopped when entering Calais and saw police referring to a three page list with names and photographs. They showed X a picture of themself taken in 2010 (date known from the colour of hair!) which was part of the 3 page document. X was told that should they be arrested in Calais they would be banned from France. They were not arrested, however the next time they tried to enter France was when they were refused entry. Tracing the timing of this and other incidents, it seems likely the police drew up a “banned list” just before the eviction of the Jungle in October 2016.

We know several others received these bans. D and X, fortunate enough to be able to do it within the two month timeframe, decided to challenge the ban in the French courts. They were supported in this by the Calais Migrant Solidarity network, and by the French associations Anafé, which works with foreigners blocked from entering France, and the GISTI. We think this is one of the first times such a “refus d’entree” ban has been challenged in France. Most people given “refus d’entree” papers are non-European migrants who are deported far from France and have little chance to contest these police orders.

The Fiche S

The French Interior Ministry defended the police ban in court by arguing that D and X were indeed a “danger” to France. But what exactly did this danger amount to? The state quoted from its file on D and X, – the infamous “fiche S” held by French political police on supposed troublemakers.i

This “fiche S” sheet had two parts. First, D and X are identified as a “member of the anarcho-autonomous ultra left movement ‘No Borders’, susceptible of carrying out violent actions in the perspective of the dismantling of the migrant camp in Calais”.ii The state’s evidence didn’t actually name any such violent actions. Instead, it quoted a number of French news articles about the supposed “violence” of “No Borders”.

In fact these media claims were based entirely on quotes from police sources, often unnamed. So, in a perfect circle, the police fed unsubstantiated claims to the press, then used the same press quotes in their own “evidence”. Neither D, X, nor anyone else, had ever been prosecuted for the supposed “violence” mentioned in these reports, let alone actually been found guilty.

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERA

The second part of the “fiche S” file gives some more specific examples of D’s activities. For example, being arrested in 2010 in an “illegal occupation” – i.e., simply being present in the Africa House squat where around 100 people mainly from Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia were living. And being spotted by police on a demonstration of migrants in Calais in 2014. X’s file mentioned that ‘from 5 to 7 February 2010, no border activists, including X, illegally occupied a hangar on the rue Kronstadt in Calais and hosted migrants, with the forces of the order having to evict the premises;’ and that ‘ in 2010, no border activists, including X, deployed a banner “solidarity with the undocumented” on the façade of the belfry of the Calais town hall; As the court agreed, these were all either not very serious at all, inaccurate, or years old. Nothing suggested an imminent threat to the French nation.

There were also some items from UK police files. Again, these just say that D and X went to some demonstrations. And that X was arrested on one demonstration but never prosecuted. What they also show is how the UK and French police are sharing vague “intelligence”, police rumours and suspicions, about people they identify as politically active. This “intelligence” is then used as a basis to block people’s movement across borders, including adding them to international watchlists such as the Schengen Information System.

No Borders”: the phantom menace

In short, the only real charge against D and X was that they were a member of a “violent” “anarcho-autonomous” organisation called “No Borders”. But what is this alleged organisation?

Certainly, some people standing in solidarity with Calais migrants consider themselves anarchists. And some, anarchist or “ultra-leftist” or not, identify with the idea of “No Borders”. People might understand those two words in many ways – a slogan, a demand, a challenge, a dream. What they certainly don’t mean is a membership organisation masterminding migrant uprising in Calais.

This is a phantom created by French police and the journalists they feed stories over a few drinks. It simply doesn’t exist. Journalists on both sides of the channel have run countless stories about “No Borders” inciting riots, burning down the jungle, running smuggling rings, etc. None of these claims have ever been backed up by any evidence or investigation, or ever substantiated in any court.

Apart from anything else, migrants in Calais are generally pretty resourceful people. Many have lived through wars and dictatorships, started revolutions, crossed seas and deserts. They don’t need help to feel angry, or to organise themselves to cross borders and take action.

Fighting for solidarity

For us, this challenge wasn’t just about any individual’s situation. It was about challenging a weapon widely used by the police to block people’s free movement with impunity. And it was one small part of resisting governments’ efforts to break movements of solidarity between citizens and migrants.

In recent years, thousands of Europeans have responded to refugee crossings with support and solidarity – from the beaches of Greece, through the mountain passes of the Alps, to the “jungles” of Calais. This bothers the politicians and media who are busy whipping up panics about “migrant invasions”. Their aim is to sow fear and division, trying to stop people uniting against the global capitalist elites who are our common enemies. Practical solidarity, where people with and without papers stand side by side, is a real threat to this “divide and rule” project.

And so states react by demonising and criminalising solidarity. In Lesbos or Lampedusa, volunteers are imprisoned or harassed for saving a few of the thousands who drown at sea. In Calais, the police arbitrarily arrest and ban anyone they label “No Borders”. They hope to scare citizens away and so keep migrants isolated. This gives the state and media a free hand to smear and attack their scapegoats.

This court victory is one small part of fighting back against that war on solidarity. Even more important is that we don’t let ourselves be scared off, and keep fighting our real enemies in the halls of commerce and the palaces of power. French or British, European or African, we have the same enemies, don’t let them divide us.

(If you have been banned from France and want to challenge it get in contact with CMS calais_solidarity@riseup.net or Anafé.)

iThere were other references in the court documents suggesting the “fiche S” was backed up by more detailed police files. A separate legal case was launched requesting access to these. This was refused, as was a later appeal heard in a closed-doors session.

ii(«membre de la mouvance anarcho-autonome d’ultra gauche («no border») susceptible de se livrer à des actions violentes dans les perspectives du démantèlement du camp de migrants de Calais».)

Criminalisation and Humanitarian Border Policing in the Channel

Migrants’ dinghies in Dover harbour

Reblogged from Border Criminologies blog.

Guest post by Thom Tyerman, Travis Van Isacker, Philippa Metcalfe and Francesca Parkes. This post was written in conjunction with activist networks working against the UK border regime in Northwest France, including Watch the Channel and Calais Migrant Solidarity.

In March 2021, the UK Home Office published a white paper entitled The New Plan for Immigration (NPI) identifying asylum seeking as a primary source of ‘illegal immigration’. The NPI and the Nationality and Borders Bill it informs propose a dramatic overhaul of the asylum system, limiting full refugee status to those who are cherry-picked and brought to the UK via a restrictive ‘resettlement scheme’ while introducing a temporary status with less rights for people who apply for asylum after having travelled to the UK outside these routes.

At the same time, the UK will now render ‘inadmissible’, asylum claims made by someone who travelled through a ‘safe third country’ (European countries in particular) and seek to quickly deport them either to that ‘safe third country’, one they have a ‘connection’ to, or any other country that will accept them. However, at the time of writing, the government has still not been able to negotiate any returns agreements with other countries, meaning that, for the moment, ‘inadmissible asylum seekers’ are not facing deportation. Alongside this, the bill proposes to criminalise asylum seekers by introducing the new offence of simply ‘arriving’ in the UK without permission in addition to the existing offence of ‘entering’ without permission (i.e. circumventing immigration controls). The offence of ‘facilitation’ of arrival/entry is to be expanded to include people who do not act ‘for gain’ (i.e. who do not benefit materially or financially) and will carry a possible life sentence, although exemptions remain for organisations assisting asylum-seekers without charge.

The Nationality and Borders Bill is presented as paving the way for the UK authorities to enact push-backs in the Channel and detain people off-shore or overseas while their asylum claims are processed. The wide-ranging criminalisation proposed here seeks to supplement the hostile rhetoric and militarised security responses aimed at asylum seekers crossing the Channel in small boats which continue to dominate the media. Through this Bill, the British government hopes it can appear to fulfil its nationalist Brexit promise to ‘take back control’, even as it sells off rights, protections, and tax revenues in the pursuit of international corporate investment and new markets to form the basis of ‘global Britain’ (see for example, the Conservative Party’s plan to establish ‘freeports’ across the UK).

Without a hint of irony, the Home Office claims that its ‘New Plan’ champions the UK’s humanitarian commitment to refugees through expanding ‘legal routes’ for resettlement, dismantling exploitative smuggling networks, and discouraging dangerous ‘illegal’ crossings by blocking unauthorised arrivals from accessing refugee status and rights. However, these measures map directly onto the UK’s twin border security strategies of deterrence and externalisation. Humanitarianism and hostility go hand in hand in this ‘new system that is fair but firm’.

Civil society responses to the NPI – opposition or cooperation?

In the UK, civil society responses have widely decried the NPI as cruel, unworkable, and likely illegal under international law. Much of this opposition has coalesced around calls for the introduction of ‘safe and legal routes’ for asylum seekers: ‘pathways that enable people in need of international protection to travel to the UK in a safe and managed manner, normally through an application or approval process made overseas‘. Seen as necessary to minimise the risk of exploitation, injury and death refugees currently endure to reach the UK (and Europe more generally), civil society proposals include introducing ‘humanitarian visas’, schemes for relocating unaccompanied children, and expanding international refugee resettlement and family reunion mechanisms. See for example policy proposals by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Safe Passage, Migrant Offshore Aid Station, and Choose Love among others.

‘Safe and legal routes’ are presented as ‘an alternative…better, kinder and more human response’ to the ‘hostile legislation’ of the UK government. But the practical suggestions they entail look remarkably similar to those proposed by the Home Office, and do little to challenge the discriminatory power of the UK state. Visas have always been a tool for controlling and limiting free movement for some while maintaining or facilitating it for others. Indeed, it is because of the restrictive EU/UK visa system that people are forced to take irregular routes via dangerous means to reach Europe in the first place. It is not clear how ‘humanitarian’ visas would operate any differently or have different results to the current visa system. Similarly, it is not clear in what way the expanded resettlement schemes envisaged by humanitarian civil society would differ in practice from those proposed by the UK government. Both would still involve the pre-emptive rejection of vast numbers of people by representatives of the British state, or by those to whom they outsource, forcing people to take to the ‘illegal’ and ‘dangerous’ routes that resettlement or humanitarian visas were supposed to help them avoid; thus, rendering these routes doubly illegitimate.

It is also important to remember how inept and inaccessible existing resettlement schemes can be. In 2013, the UNHCR abandoned hundreds of recognised refugees in the Tunisian Choucha camp without resettlement or support, forcing them to take alternative criminalised routes to travel to safety. The UNHCR also produces training and materials for European state border officials, providing advice on profiling arrivals and expediting the removal of people who fail to meet their criteria of protection. As such, it directly participates in the criminalisation of people on the move, including those who have strong ‘humanitarian reasons’ for their movement. Far from a neutral humanitarian actor, the UNHCR is central to the global ‘policing of populations and borders’.

Furthermore, it is not clear how either NGO or government proposals would resolve the well-documented difficulties LGBTI+ people face trying to prove their eligibility for resettlement or humanitarian visas while still at risk from persecution. The idea that people displaced by the chaos of war can or should engage with externally imposed application processes is disingenuous and requires us to ignore everything we know about the challenges they face. And the UK government’s stated policy of refusing the arrival of refugees on its territory, while demanding other states to take them in on their behalf, saliently demonstrates continued British colonial statecraft and its sense of exceptionalism that has been pervasive throughout history.

In all these ways, the safe and legal routes argued for by the UK civil society fail to challenge the legitimacy of the British state’s criminalisation of asylum seekers which underpins its expansion of the hostile environment policies against them. Indeed, their proposals would result in reproducing the simplified categories and understandings of people’s movements as authorised/unauthorised, legal/illegal, on which criminalisation is based and legitimated. Some organisations do acknowledge this dilemma, and explicitly state the government should ‘respect and protect the rights of all women, men and children seeking asylum to do so (including in the UK and including by such other routes as they may need to take)’. However, others have fully embraced this new agenda, adopting the role of border police by pre-emptively criminalising asylum seekers and their supporters.

Choose Love: Humanitarian border police in Calais

In late May 2021, NGOs working with refugees in Northern France received an email from their British funders, Choose Love, instructing them to cease the distribution of ‘safety at sea’ leaflets. They also instructed Maison Sesame, which provides accommodation for refugees in Northern France, not to host people who were trying to go to the UK. According to Choose Love, their lawyers advised them that the safety at sea leaflets potentially violated UK immigration law concerning facilitation of illegal migration. They therefore amended their contracts to deny funding to any organisation continuing to distribute them. Despite widespread criticism from the NGOs, who insist the information provided is intended to save lives, is freely available, and does not constitute criminal activity, the decree from London has had a chilling effect as many organisations fear being unable to continue their work without British funding.

Given the hostile agenda at the heart of the Nationality and Borders Bill, caution around criminalisation is understandable. But rather than minimising this chance, the actions of Choose Love risk making it even more likely. Without prompting or legal precedent, they took it upon themselves to define certain forms of support as (potentially) criminal, signalling their own distance from, and disapproval of, this work. This pre-emptive move in effect enforces the border on the UK’s behalf, criminalising particular routes to the UK and anyone even seen to be supporting those travelling on them. Indeed, it is potentially more effective that the British state itself could be, since it does not need to prove any legal basis for its actions. And just as with the UK’s criminalisation and securitisation policies generally, it increases the risks and dangers refugees face by denying them access to potentially life-saving information and resources.

A long history of criminalising migrants and their supporters in Northern France already exists. This has taken the form of national legislation, such Article L622-1 of the Code de l’entrée et du séjour des étrangers et du droit d’asile (CESEDA), aka the ‘délit de solidarité’, under which people were charged with facilitating illegal migration for providing basic humanitarian aid such as food, clothes, or shelter. Meanwhile, the Calais Mairie and Prefecture have repeatedly banned food distribution to migrants in the city over the years. Criminalisation has also been pursued in less official ways through the everyday policing of migrants and solidarity activists, who are subjected to repeated harassment and cycles of eviction aimed at making their presence in the region untenable. Many of these acts of criminalisation have been challenged in practice, in the courts, and in public debate, revealing them to be politically motivated rather than legally set in stone. While at some points humanitarians are the target of criminalisation, at others they have acted in concert with state authorities to implement these policies – for example, to construct and then evict the New Jungle of 2015-2016. Whether motivated by fear of being found on the wrong side of the law or not, by pre-emptively criminalising the distribution of ‘safety at sea’ information, Choose Love continues this trend of humanitarians doing the state’s political dirty work for them. Embodying the epitome of neo-liberal bordering, and in the name of its humanitarian mission, Choose Love has volunteered itself to act as the UK’s border police.

Resisting borders

As the history of this border shows us, however, criminalisation is a political process that is contestable both in practice and in the courts. But this requires moving beyond making policy suggestions seen as palatable within our present hostile political environment. If we are to resist the authoritarianism displayed in the Nationality and Borders Bill, we must confront the tendency of humanitarianism to contribute to border policing, whether purposefully, as in the case of Choose Love, or incidentally as in the arguments for ‘safe and legal routes’. We need to reject the basic contours of the debate around borders and migration as already compromised, rather than something to work within. We need to refuse the flawed belief that we can distinguish clearly between people’s reasons for moving, identifying some as ‘legitimate’ and others as ‘illegitimate’, as well as those simplistic understandings of ‘chosen’ and ‘forced mobility’, ‘agency’ and ‘victimhood’, on which the criminalisation of migration rests. We need to challenge the assumptions that migration must be ‘managed’, that western states or humanitarian actors have the right to do so, and that it is done to protect the lives of those being managed. We must relinquish the seductive fantasy that ‘we’ can and ought to have ‘control’ over ‘others’.

Instead, we need to understand these arguments as alibis for maintaining global inequalities of wealth, power, and privilege built on histories of colonial exploitation and violence. We need to draw the links between economic and political structures that require people to cross borders internationally in search of a liveable life, and at the same time trap people in precarious employment and poverty domestically. We need to show how the same strategies of scapegoating and criminalisation are used against migrants and welfare recipients alike to cover up the hollowing out of society by successive governments in the name of global capital and their personal profit. We need to denounce the role of borders in upholding these global injustices, for both citizens and non-citizens, and acknowledge the unauthorised movement of people across borders as a political act of resistance in its own right. Ultimately, we need to be bolder in our arguments for solidarity with people on the move and highlight the importance of border abolition to our vision of a fairer and freer society for all.

Mardi 14 mars : squat du “moulin blanc”, procès en appel à Douai ! // Squat of “Moulin Blanc,” appeal trial in Douai!

Tardivement mais pas trop tard pour autant, organisons-nous pour le procès en appel à Douai, mardi 14 mars à 9h, des 8 personnes qui avaient été relaxées à Boulogne le 1er avril 2016, après avoir été arrêtées au squat du “moulin blanc”.

Cet ancien accueille de jour, abandonné depuis des années, avait été ouverte un peu plus tôt puis occupée par des personnes du collectif « Salut ô toit » et avait pour but d’accueillir les personnes à la rue à calais (dans le contexte de l’évacuation de la zone sud du bidonville).

Une forte mobilisation et de nombreux soutien s’étaient manifestés à l’occasion du procès en première instance à Boulogne.

Il serait bienvenu que celle-ci soit suivie pour ce procès en appel, compte tenu de la sévérité légendaire de la cour d’appel de Douai et du contexte dans lequel ce procès va se dérouler :
traque des personnes exilées jusque dans leurs lieux de vie et les espaces de solidarité (notamment aux douches du secours catholique), destructions systématiques des micro-campements qui se réorganisent aux périphéries de la ville, brigade anti-squat de la gendarmerie qui circule jours et nuits, calaisiens en colère à l’appui…

Le résultat de ce procès – si les accusées étaient reconnues coupables serait un nouveau signe de la volonté de criminaliser certaines formes de soutien aux personnes exilées et une volonté affichée de maintenir le combat contre l’apparition de nouveaux lieux de vie et de solidarité dans le calaisis.

Soyons nombreuses à réclamer une nouvelle relaxe, mais aussi des espaces ouverts pour toutes les personnes quel que soit leur statut, à soutenir toutes les ouvertures, à faire face à la ségrégation spatiale et raciale à calais et ses alentours, à ses conséquences sur les exilé-es et dans une certaine
mesure sur celleux qui les soutiennent.

Pour en savoir plus sur l’ajournement du procès d’appel, sur le procès en première instance (et ici), sur l’information et sur un communiqué sur l’ouverture du squat (ici aussi).

_________________________________________________________

<EN>

Late notice, but not too late, let’s organize ourselves for the appeal trial in Douai, Tuesday, March 14th at 9 o’clock. The eight people who were freed at the initial trial in Boulogne-sur-Mer in April 2016, after being arrested in the squat of “Moulin Blanc.”

This former housing shelter, abandoned for years, was opened a little earlier, then occupied by people from the collective «Salut ô toit» and was intended to welcome people from the streets of Calais (in the context of the eviction of the southern half of the “jungle”).

A strong mobilization gathered and numerous support was expressed at the time of the trial last April.

It would be welcomed that the same would happen for the appeal trial, considering the well-known severity of the Court of Appeals of Douai, and the context in which the trial will take place: the hunting down of migrants in their living spaces and spaces of solidarity (notably the showers of Secours Catholique), systematic destruction of micro-camps on the outskirts of the city, anti-squat brigade of the gendarmes which circles the city all day long, and Calasiens en Colere in their support…

The results of the trial – if the accused were to be found guilty – will be another sign of the will to criminalize certain forms of support for migrants and of a demonstrated will to keep up the fight against the emergence of new living spaces and spaces of solidarity in the Calais region.

Let’s be many in demanding a new dismissal of the charges, but let’s also demand open spaces to all people regardless of their status, support all openings of spaces, and confront the segregation of spaces and racial segregation in Calais and surround areas, and it’s consequences on migrants and to a certain extent on those who support them.

Read more information about the postponement of the appeal trial, of the initial trial (and here), and information and a communique about the opening of the squat (also here).

Trial results – Repression

After new and new delays, nearly a year of waiting, the appeals court of Douai, which took place on October 19, finally gave the verdict for a friend charged and tried on December 14, 2015 for charges associated with participating and organizing riots in November 2015 (link, link, link). An earlier court ruled not-guilty for 2 of the three charges. The appeals court gave a verdict of “guilty” on three charges, with a suspended sentence of one year of prison.

Outraged about once again the “justice” trying to fence in our lives, we are outraged about the racism of the charges and the repressions of people who choose to associate with those outside their race and papers status. Claiming that it requires a young white person to incite people of colour – who have made revolutions in their countries, fought wars, have fled their countries for persecution for political struggles—to express outrage over systematic continuing beatings and gassings by police, this is what the appeals court reaffirmed.

Unsurprisingly, the police make cases just like this one, to shirk any responsibility for their violence and to punish those who speak out against it. In Calais (but not only), the cops have for years been taking the legitimacy of violence with impunity, acting outside the law they serve. The same cops and government officials responsible get to cover it up too. Criminalization of solidarity, racial profiling, raids (link), deportations (link), etc… are continuous and don’t stop.

In some circles, people show support for those on trial by going to hearings, finding lawyers, spreading information, making banners, noise and more. It is important but tiring. Fight the oppression of prisons by helping people from not going in them, but instead by smashing them. Fire to the prisons! Fire to cops!

A French riot police officer gesturea as he is surrounded by flames, during a demonstration against the controversial labour reforms of the French government in Paris on September 15, 2016. Opponents of France's controversial labour reforms took to the streets on September 15, 2016 for the 14th time in six months in a last-ditch bid to quash the measures that lost the Socialist government crucial support on the left. Scores of flights in and out of France were cancelled as air traffic controllers went on strike to try to force the government to repeal the changes that became law in July. / AFP PHOTO / Thomas SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images

Evictions in the region

After the violent evictions of the southern half of the jungle (see also here and here), many people were forced to relocate their houses to the northern half of the jungle – creating more tensions in a now more densely populated area. Many people were forced to leave Calais, losing support networks – sometimes to other places in the region.

Many people are asking about the plans for a possible eviction of the northern half of the jungle; no definitive plans have been announced, leaving people waiting, in a precarious living situation. A squat opened in Calais to provide dignified housing and a space for migrants in the city was violently evicted and people were arrested; the 8 individuals on trial have won in court.

In the meantime, the government is continuing to evict people in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. On April 1, after an urgent verdict, the government evicted an encampment in Dieppe. On March 25, a judge ruled in favour of an eviction of a small camp near Bethune; the people living there have been served eviction papers and are waiting.

On April 6, a smaller jungle, near the motorway leading to the Tunnel, was torn down, after several eviction attempts. It served as a home for some and a resting place for those being gassed  when trying to cross the border. The police threatened the jungle several times -spraying pepper spray into homes, cutting shelters with knives, telling people the words many have come to know well in Calais: Go jungle! The small jungle existed autonomously, its residents having taken a strong stand against the forced coralling of everyone into the large jungle near Jules Ferry Day Center.

The evictions of the smaller jungles shows the stance of intolerance the French government has taken on autonomous housing – the existence, for years, of the smaller encampments shows the commitment to autonomy.

FR/

14 Avril 2016

Expulsions dans la region

Après l’expulsion violente le la partie Sud de la jungle (voir aussi ici et ici), plein de personnes ont été obligées de réinstaller leurs maisons dans la partie Nord de la jungle – ce qui à créé plus de tensions dans une zone maintenant plus densément peuplée. Plein de personnes ont été forcées de quitter Calais, parfois pour d’autres endroits dans la région, perdant leurs réseaux de soutien.

Beaucoup de personnes demandent d’en savoir plus sur les projets de destruction de la moité Nord de la jungle ; aucun plan définitif n’a été annoncé, ce qui laisse ces personnes dans l’attente, dans une situation précaire. Un squat ouvert à Calais pour fournir un logement décent et un espace dans la ville pour les migrants a été violemment expulsé et des personnes ont été arrêtées ; les 8 individus poursuivis ont gagné au tribunal.

En attendant le gouvernement continue d’expulser des personnes dans la région Nord-Pas-de-Calais. Le premier Avril, après un verdict donné dans l’urgence, le gouvernement à expulsé un campement à Dieppe. Le 25 Mars un juge à statué en faveur de l’expulsion d’un petit camp près de Béthune ; les personnes qui y habitent ont reçu les documents de notification et sont depuis dans l’attente.

Le 6 Avril, une plus petite jungle, proche de l’autoroute qui mène au Tunnel, a été démoli, après plusieures tentatives d’expulsion. Elle faisait office de logement pour certains et aussi de lieu de repos pour les personnes qui avaient été gazées en essayant de traverser la frontière. La police avait menacé cette jungle plusieures fois, gazant l’intérieur des maisons avec de la lacrymogène, tranchant des abris avec des couteaux, disant aux personnes les mots que beaucoup ont appris à connaître à Calais : « Allez à la jungle! » La petite jungle existait de manière autonome, ses résidents ayant pris position fortement contre l’emparquement forcé de tous dans la grande jungle près du Centre de Jour Jules Ferry.

Les expulsions des jungles plus petites montrent la posture d’intolérence que le gouvernement français a pris contre le logement autonome – l’existence, à travers les années, de plus petits camps montre la détermination pour l’autonomie.

 

 

Hunger strike finished – struggle continues

Statement from the hunger strikers in ‘The Jungle’ in Calais [25 March 2016]

We would like to extend our deep condolences to the people of Brussels and all the victims of Tuesday’s attacks.

It is from this same violence and terror that so many of the people of The Jungle are running. We must stand together, united as humanity, against violence in all its forms.

In the many months that we have been in The Jungle we have endured living in squalid and filthy conditions. We have all been subject to routine and systematic racist violence at the hands of nationalists, fascists and the French police. This experience of violence is common to all in The Jungle and has occurred on an almost daily basis. For many, including very young and unaccompanied refugees, this violence simply became the norm.

Despite the terrible conditions which we found ourselves living in, no practical and humane alternative was offered. The dispersal of refugees across France into frequently uninhabitable centres and the complex, protracted asylum application process left many afraid, desperate and returning to The Jungle.

On 29 February, the French State began their eviction of the southern section of The Jungle. The scale of violence was indescribable. We Iranians were in the first section to be cleared. In breach of promises and court orders the authorities smashed our shelters, beat us, choked us with tear gas and shot us with rubber bullets. We had been given no warning and no interpreters to help understand the process. We had no time to pack our few belongings, we lost everything but the clothes on our backs. It became clear to us that the problems of refugees in France, particularly in the Jungle in Calais, were being censored and all of us were being presented as terrorists and troublemakers.

Our decision to go on hunger strike and sew our lips together as a protest at the inhumane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers was well considered. Our decision was not based on anger but taken with a clear aim.

From the first day we have been demanding:

  • A fundamental change in the political and social policy governing the treatment of refugees in France.
  • An end to the violent and illegal destruction of the residences in The Jungle with no proper, humane and adequate alternatives offered for housing and protecting the refugees.
  • An end to police and fascist violence.

Furthermore, to fully convey the severity of the problems of those living in The Jungle we requested an immediate visit from a representative of the United Nations to assess the situation.

We have also asked for representatives from the British Home Office and the French Government to be based in The Jungle in order to identify, separate and expedite the cases of those individuals with a case for family reunification or asylum in the United Kingdom. We believe this is an issue of shared French-British responsibility.

After sixteen days on hunger strike a representative of the government entered negotiations with us in order to resolve the problems of the refugees in the Jungle. We set out each of the problems faced by the refugees. Over five meetings we received nothing but the same standard responses with no definitive plan put forward to change or reconsider public policy towards the treatment of refugees.

The proposals put forward by The State contained only those practical steps that should have been taken a long time ago to ensure humane conditions for refugees in The Jungle. Their plans for the Northern section should have been in place from the beginning throughout the whole camp. It is through the continual neglect of The State that we have all found ourselves in this current situation.

We consider it a victory that the French government has been forced to the abandon the destruction of the northern section of the camp and instead to start the process of improving the living conditions there, including security, medical services, legal services, assistance for vulnerable groups including minors, clean water and a paved road allowing access for emergency services to enter the camp.

We have also met with representatives from the UNHCR and the Defenseur des Droits who have assured us that they will issue reports on the conditions of The Jungle. We accept their assurances that they will take appropriate action to secure all our human rights.

Our aim was to bring awareness to the problems of asylum seekers in The Jungle. We wanted to tell the world what is happening here and we have succeeded. We have received messages of solidarity from all across the world for which we are very grateful. We want to thank those who supported us, in particular those in France and the UK who have stood by us throughout our struggle. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Mayor of Dunkirk for creating a safe and humane environment for the refugees in his area.

We have decided to end our hunger strike not as a direct response to the negotiations with the French State but out of respect for those supporting us, who have a genuine concern for our welfare, and as a gesture of faith that the State abide by their limited assurances to protect and improve the conditions of those in the North of The Jungle.

There is clearly still much work to be done and this is not the end of the struggle for the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers across Europe. We invite you all to stand with us, united in humanity.