Call Out: Against Air France and KLM involvement in Deportations

On 21st August 2014 a 51-year-old Algerian man was killed at Roissy  Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris during a deportation attempt.

One year later, people are calling for a day of protests to demand that  Air France and KLM stop all deportations.

One way (but not the only way!) that you can protest is to contact Air France and KLM via  social media channels:

https://www.facebook.com/airfrance

https://www.facebook.com/KLM

https://twitter.com/airfrance

https://twitter.com/KLM
For more information about deportations by Air France and KLM, please go to:

https://network23.org/klmdeportations/air-france-klm-deportations/
https://www.facebook.com/stopdeportationsairfranceklm

Stop all deportation flights! Freedom of movement and settlement for all!

Our solidarity is stronger than the border

solidarity fence

It’s been beautiful to see all the messages and acts of support coming in over the last couple of weeks, from the UK and from all over Europe. We are pretty well swamped with emails offering donations of materials or time, so apologies if we don’t get back to you immediately, but please do keep ’em coming.

What we’ve seen in recent weeks is how a crisis, if that’s what it is, brings out both the very worst and the very best in people. Solidarity is our weapon, and it is stronger than their barbed wire and fear.

A lot of the same questions keep coming up when people write to us, so below are a few common answers.

Q: Are you receiving donations of materials for migrants in Calais?

Humanitarian aid will not end this “crisis”. Only getting rid of this vicious border will do that. The situation in Calais is a deeply political one, and we believe the response to this goes further than the provision of blankets. We do not see it as our role to manage donations or be involved in distributions, there are many humanitarian organisations  and individuals operating in Calais who can do this. There details are included below.

Q: Are you receiving donations of money?

Yes. You can send money to either our French account (in Euros) or UK account (in Sterling). All the details are on this page. Unfortunately we don’t do paypal.

Q: Can I come and help out for a few days?

We are not able to host or make introductions for new people who are just coming for a short visit. It takes up a lot of time and energy to introduce people to what is a complex situation, and we just don’t have enough to go round. Also, we are cautious, because we know there are lots of good-hearted people who want to do something but we’re also very wary of the danger of the Calais jungle becoming a kind of safari park for poverty tourism.

Of course, we don’t have a monopoly on Calais solidarity, and it is totally up to you if you want to come to the Jungle under your own steam, and organise your own activities and accommodation. There is plenty of room to pitch a tent, and people are generally very welcoming. Assuming, that is, that you’re not shoving a camera into their face or otherwise acting like a prick.

Q: Can I come and volunteer with you for a longer period?

We are not a volunteer organisation. We are interested in hearing from people who want to join our struggle, if you can make a minimum commitment of a week. (Of course, maybe you find once you get here that it’s not for you, in which case that’s fine, it’s the intention that matters.) However, please note: we are not a charity, NGO or aid organisation. We are a political group with a strong position against all borders (see this earlier post), and against other systems of oppression including capitalism, colonialism, racism, male domination, and the state. We want to work with people who share these views. We are looking for comrades rather than volunteers.

If you do not feel close to these ideas, there are other associations who are doing very good humanitarian work in Calais and these might be a better place for you to go. Here are three that we recommend. They are French, but all have English speakers.

L’Auberge des Migrants. A local association who do a lot of good work in the jungle.

http://www.laubergedesmigrants.fr/

laubergedesmigrants@hotmail.fr

Secours Catholique. Catholic charity that provides many services to migrants in Calais.

http://pasdecalais.secours-catholique.org/

pasdecalais@secours-catholique.org

Medecins du Monde. “Doctors of the World”, who are organising healthcare in the jungle, and also other social services.

http://www.medecinsdumonde.org/gb/En-France/Calais

migrants.npdc@medecinsdumonde.net

Q: Do you want people to come and take photographs in the jungle?

No. We don’t. There are a lot of photographers in the jungle already, and thousands of images out there now, and we don’t see a great need for more. We will not act as an introduction service for photographers and journalists.

The one use of photography we see as very relevant is recording police violence. But this needs to be done with great care  and we prefer to work with people we know and trust already for this, or who are introduced to us by trusted people.

If you do come to the jungle with a camera, please be respectful. Don’t photograph people without express consent. And be careful. Maybe you are very respectful, but the majority of the photographers around are not. They repeatedly photograph and film people without bothering to ask permission, and we have seen photographers barging into people’s tents, refusing to delete photos when asked, etc. As a result of this many people are starting to get very pissed off with photographers and journalists around, so you may not get a friendly reception.

Q: Can I interview you or help you get press coverage?

Unlikely. We rarely give interviews to the UK media. We may consider a particular proposal if you send us a detailed email explaining what your project is. We will definitely not talk to the Mail, Telegraph, Express or Murdoch owned press. In general, we prefer to express ourselves directly in our own words, such as through this website. Please feel free to quote anything you like from here.

Q: Can I do something where I am?

Yes, absolutely. For instance, we are glad to hear from people who want to organise info evenings, film showings, stalls, fundraisers, solidarity actions, etc., to spread the word about what is going on.

But maybe even more importantly, we encourage you to fight against the border regime where you are.

The border is not just here in Calais. If you are in the UK, not far from you migrants who have arrived from Calais and other places are being imprisoned indefinitely in detention centres, including the prison for families with children run by G4S and Barnardos. Or attacked by Home Office “enforcement” bullies in dawn raids at home, at work or in street checks. Or made destitute under the vicious law that refuses asylum claimants even the right to work. Or threatened with homelessness by a new law against “illegal” immigrants renting houses.

Here are just a few links to groups we know of in the UK, or search for others near you. Or take action yourself in your own way.

Antiraids Network: resisting immigration raids in London

Unity Centre: solidarity with migrants in Glasgow

SOAS detainee support: London students supporting people in detention

Right to Remain: campaigning for people facing deportation

Movement for Justice: organising with people in Yarl’s Wood and other detention centres

No Borders Leeds

What is “No Borders”?

aint-no-border

The name of our group is Calais Migrant Solidarity. But we are also widely known, particularly amongst people in Calais, as “No Borders”. This sometimes causes a bit of confusion: the thing is, really, “No Borders” isn’t a group or organisation, it’s an idea.

Calais Migrant Solidarity started in 2009. It was a project that came out of the “Calais No Border Camp” of that summer, in which hundreds of people from across Europe and further afield came to camp on the outskirts of the town, take action against the border and make connections with people without papers here. Other “No Border Camps” have been held over the years at important border points such as Lesvos, or at centres of the European Border Regime such as Brussels and Frankfurt. And there are various groups that choose to use the name “No Borders”, like No Borders Morocco or the “permanent No Border camp” at Ventimiglia. Some of these groups and individuals may have worked together, others not. There is no one No Borders organisation: anyone can use this name if they share the basic idea.

And the idea is pretty simple, it’s in the name: we are against borders. Borders create misery and death. They are a cruel fiction, a weapon of divide and rule. They serve the rich, who use them to protect the wealth hoarded by colonialism and capitalism, and to turn the rest of us against each other. (If you’re a millionaire, of course, you have no problem crossing borders at all.) In fact, borders don’t really stop that many poor people from getting into rich countries. And maybe that’s not really the point at all. Borders create an illusion of control, while setting up poor migrants as a cheap labour force of “illegals”, who can be both easily exploited and easily made into scapegoats.

Is a world of no borders possible? Is a world without tyranny, exploitation and oppression possible? Maybe not in our lifetimes, maybe never at all. But should that stop us from fighting against these things where we can?

For further reading, here is a No Borders Manifesto which was not written by our group.

Another fascist attack in Calais

515553

People without papers in Calais are regularly subject to violent assault by police and border guards, leading to many injuries and sometimes to deaths. One other bunch of violent thugs we could all do without are the local neonazi morons, who make a small but still very nasty contribution to the pain of the border.

At the weekend, an Eritrean man walking through town was set upon by a small group of fascists driving a black car. They beat him with an iron bar and left him for dead. He regained consciousness and managed to walk back to the jungle, from where an ambulance was called to take him to hospital. He sustained injuries to the head and legs.

This same little group of fascists has been active before. In June, two Sudanese men were beaten also with an iron bar, and a few days later another Sudanese man was run over. The attackers are described as a group of two men and one woman driving a black or grey car. They drive around at night looking for migrants walking alone or in pairs.

Fascism has been on the rise in Calais since late 2013 when Kevin Reche (photo above) and others formed the anti-migrant group called “Sauvons Calais”, responding to town mayor Natacha Bouchart’s call for citizens to inform on migrants squatting in the town. The group has become less active recently, with its recent demos attracting falling numbers of racists. It seems that local neonazis are now turning to less visible and more directly violent ways of venting their hatred.

Are journalists people too?

German Jews Pouring into this country

Journalists are everywhere in Calais these days. A real swarm of them. Strutting around the jungle, barging into people’s tents and private spaces, asking the same questions over and over (can’t they google, or read each other’s stories?), shoving their oversized cameras in people’s faces without asking for consent …

Are all journalists bastards? (AJAB?) Maybe some are decent people, actually give a shit, care about more than careers or racist agendas or Owen Jones sized egos. For instance, this recent article in the Daily Mirror is commendable: it not only treats the people stuck in Calais as people, but clearly conveys useful information. A journalist who can write, and actually did some research! And some of the local Calais media are pretty good, reporting sensibly and knowledgeably about the issues.

The thing is, though, it’s not just about individual journalists good or bad. The mass media play a systematic role in the border “crisis” and the border regime here. The rightwing UK press whipped up the political storm that shut the Sangatte refugee camp in 2001, and is now turning Calais into a militarised zone. The liberal UK media are also part of the problem. They continually reinforce the “common sense” establishment view: migration is a crisis, police and borders are necessary and legitimate, just can we make the violence a bit softer and less visible.

And all media, left or right, are part of the same bullshit game of “representing”, literally “mediating”, people’s voices and stories. They are the expert communicators (joke) who speak for us: for the hard-pressed taxpayer, for the suffering migrant, for the “british public”, for “humanity”.

In terms of the immediate situation in Calais right now, there are both good and bad sides to having journalists around.

On the plus side, media coverage can help improve some of the worst “humanitarian” aspects of the border. Particularly French journalists, as they can exert direct pressure on the government. Stories on the jungle have helped pushed the authorities to do some minimal things like install (not enough) toilets and running water. Exposés on police brutality in the French media (where we’ve worked with journalists on our dossiers and films) have made some small temporary differences in the levels of police brutality. After a big story comes out, for a while the cops are more cautious about beating people in public places.

On the negative side, journos are making it more difficult to cross the border. A lot of people trying to cross have told us this. The thing is that, left to themselves, French politicians and French cops don’t really care all that much about enforcing the British border. Basically, they want the migrants out of here. The media spotlight is making them enforce the border much more actively than they were before. The cameras following people at the eurotunnel every night are making the situation worse.

On balance, having journalists about might slightly reduce the chances of getting beaten, but it also reduces the chances of getting across. And that’s what matters most. As people have been chanting: to cross the border, “We are ready to die”. The really serious violence here isn’t spectacular, it isn’t the tear gas and truncheons. The real violence is the daily repeated misery of being trapped by the border.

Demo today to remember those killed at the border

 

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERA

Today there was a demonstration in Calais remembering the people killed, and calling for the border to be opened. Between 2 and 300 people took part, of all ages, from all of the nationalities living in the jungle, and also many French and other Europeans.

We met at the bridge at the entrance to the jungle at 2PM. Strips of red cloth were handed out as a symbol of remembrance and rage, which people wore as armbands or headbands or to cover their faces. Some carried placards each with the name of one of the people killed at the tunnel, on the road, murdered by the border and by the police. Some carried long banners with slogans written mainly in English and French, such as: “Open The Border”, “No Border for Immigrants”, “Stop Police Violence”, “Que Tombent Les Murs” (may the walls fall), “Liberons les frontieres”, “Mort pour La France” (Died for / by France).

The back of the march was brought up by an open truck which carried people when they got tired, and another van carrying water and other supplies. Behind them, the police, following and watching. It was a hot day with the sun beating down and little shade most of the way.

We walked part of the same long route people are taking every night, kilometres of hard road ending in hope or disappointment. From the camp down the long straight stretch past the chemical stink of the Huntsman Tioxide factory. Then to the port, and along the port fences and barbed wire that keep people from freedom. We stopped, shook the walls, shouted sorrow and anger, tied ribbons to the fence.

Then through the old town onto the city beach. A ceremony was held on the pier, with white kites flown, and paper boats cast into the water. There were lots of people on the beach on a hot Saturday afternoon, Calaisiens and tourists. Some were hostile, but quite a few more joined in the ceremony.

Once again, the main chant was the one demand, the same three words: “Open The Border”.

 

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERA

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERA

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERA

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERA

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERA

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERA

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERA

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERA

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Video from Eurotunnel last night

Every night hundreds of people, including children, make the long 3 hour walk from the “jungle” camp to the Eurotunnel, hoping to cross to England. This video from Jason Parkinson was made at the tunnel last night / this morning.

The border kills. Open The Border.