Tagged: border violence

Information for the hosts/friends/families in case a migrant friend is missing.

— Initially published on Getting the Voice Out, so some infos are specific to Belgium, but the procedure to follow is valid everywhere. —

27/06/2018

Many foreigners in irregular situation are controlled/arrested on public transport, on parking lots, at train stations or at their homes. They are brought to a police station for investigation by the Immigration Office. At the police station, their personal belongings and phones are confiscated, which means that they cannot contact anyone. Within the next 24 hours, they are either released, often with an order to leave the country (OQT – Ordre de Quitter le Territoire), or they are detained in one of the 5 detention centres for migrants (centre fermé – CF).

  • What to do…. BEFORE one of your friends is incarcerated:

– If your friend has already received an order to leave the country (OQT) or has a passport, ask their permission and make a copy, scan or take a photo of the order or passport. This will afford you access to the information (name, first name, nationality, date of birth) needed to find your friend.

– If they haven’t received an OQT or they have gotten rid of it, ask them to write down the first and last names, nationality and date of birth that are on record with their fingerprints and/or that they provided when they were caught. These data are essential for you to be able to locate them as soon as possible and to possibly undertake legal action.

In both cases, warn them of the risks of being placed in a detention centre for migrants (CF) if the police catch them and inform them of their rights, if they, unfortunately, get detained: possibility to give a phone call outside (ask them to write down your phone number on a piece of paper or to memorize it and to contact you as soon as possible) and the right to an attorney and to visits.

  • If you find out that they have been arrested

– If you know in which police station they are, call or go on site. If there are others in the same police station, contact all your friends and go there together to demand their release. This type of pressure has already led to the release of some detainees.
– In principle, they are entitled to make a phone call if they are being transferred to a detention centre for migrants. If they call you to announce their transfer, try to find out the location and the exact name they have provided to the police and the Immigration Office (Office des Etrangers – OE). This will buy you some time!

Detailed procedure in case of a disappearance:

-In the first 24 hours of a disappearance, be patient: they may be prevented from calling for many various reasons. If you haven’t received any news from your undocumented migrant friend/guest for a substantial amount of time, ask their acquaintances, their friends or other hosts in case they had planned to travel or have been in an accident. They might be stuck somewhere without a phone or with no battery and the best thing to do is to wait for them to get in touch with you. The police can detain them for 24 hours before deciding what to do with them.

– Has it been more than 24 hours? Have you learned that your friend has been detained? Has your friend contacted you but without knowing in which centre they are, …?

  • How to locate your missing friend?

Before starting to call detention centres:
Be aware that the primary role of a detention centre (CF) is not to help you or to collaborate with you but to “maintain undocumented migrants at a specified location close to borders so as to facilitate their removal from the country”. Also, the “social worker” provided to your friend represents the Immigration Office in the detention centre and is therefore not necessarily the kind of social worker you might have in mind.

Two possible scenarios:

-In the best case, you will have had time to talk to your friend before their arrest and you have the name they give to the police (whether actual or fictitious), as well as their nationality (whether actual or fictitious).
Call the “Caricole” detention centre at 02 719 71 09 or 02 719 71 10 as they – in theory – centralise the information and – normally – have a list of all the detainees. Ask them if the person that you are looking for is detained in their centre or in another one. They will ask you for your friend’s LAST NAME + first name + nationality. If they don’t find the information, it does not mean that your friend is not in a detention facility. Don’t give up; start calling all the other facilities:

Le Centre pour Illégaux de Bruges (CIB) Tél 050 45 10 40 mail: onthaalbis@ibz.fgov.be
Le Centre pour Illégaux de Merksplas (CIM) : 014 63 91 10 mail: cim.info@ibz.fgov.be
Le Centre pour Illégaux de Vottem (CIV) : 04 228 89 00
Centre 127 bis : Tel 02 759 42 99 —-02 755 00 00

-Second possibility: If you only know his or her alias, send an email to gettingthevoiceout@riseup.net where someone might be able to cross-reference that information with other calls made.

When you know that your missing friend is in a detention facility and you know its location, what else can you do?
(do what you can without any obligation: “Everyone does what they can, the way they can, when they can”)

-Get them a mobile phone without a camera (Note: your friend can request to have their SIM card in the detention facility). If not, try to get the phone number of a fellow detainee who is willing to receive your call. Through the private message (PM) groups you can also coordinate with other visitors to get the mobile phone to your friend.

– Visit him or her at the detention facility and/or bring them their belongings if at all possible (see the practical information provided for each detention facility CF). The PM groups have made it possible for hosts, friends and families to coordinate support (car rides, belongings,…) see below.

– Contact gettingthevoiceout (GVO) by email and give them the name of the detained person, their nationality and the name of the facility. GVO will put you in touch with a visitor or, for the guests of the plateforme d’hébergement citoyen with a designated contact person for that facility (“référents centre” (RC)) (see below).

As soon as you are in contact with your detained friend, try to find out what happened and if they want a lawyer.

If they want to be assisted by a lawyer, contact Gettingthevoiceout and provide them with as many details as possible. In some cases, it is urgent to find a lawyer because certain steps must be taken within 10 days, sometimes even within 5 days.
Send the information to gettingthevoiceout@riseup.net, never through Facebook or PM (private message)

This is the information the lawyer will need, in order of importance:
Name under which the person is registered in the detention centre (most often their OQT names if they have already received OQT’s)
-Nationality (as recorded by the Immigration Office) and their real identity
-Name of the detention centre: 127 bis, Caricole, Vottem, Bruges, Merksplas?
-Identification number (Immigration Office/IBZ/SP) that should, in principle, have been put on their badges upon their arrival at the centre.
-Date of birth
-Date of arrest
-Place of arrest
-Language of the case / language of their (how to know?)

  • Visits to detention facilities

Each centre has their own rules and procedures for visits (see specific information for each facility in annex). Visits also provide an opportunity to ask the detained persons about other guests/friends who are not accounted for.

  • Legal aspects

CAUTION: The legislations linked to the topics of migration are extremely complex. Don’t try to take on the role of a specialist or a specialised lawyer and don’t ever rely on the advice provided by the social workers in the detention centre as they first and foremost tend to defend the interests of the Immigration Office and not those of the migrants!

The first question to ask oneself: does your friend want the support of a lawyer? The decision is theirs but should they decide to get a lawyer, it is important that they be willing to listen, trust, follow their advice,and follow the legal proceedings to the end. Much too often, a lawyer is found only to be rejected by your friend for various reasons (fear of the unknown, lack of trust in the lawyer, belief that without lawyers they will be rapidly “dublinated” towards their point of entry…from which they’ll easily be able to return, which is often a false assumption!). Giving up on the proceedings benefits the Immigration Office whose aim is to make the life of the detainee so unbearable that they accept to be deported or agree to return voluntarily.

A specialised lawyer can identify flaws in the proceedings (badly formulated arrests and incarcerations documents, lack of interpreters, requests for asylum introduced by the Immigration Office against the will of the detainees, blind application of the Dublin rules…) and the lawyer can make sure your friend’s rights are respected.

Gettingthevoiceout has a list of competent lawyers to defend the rights of the migrants.

  • In case of release or deportation:

Inform gettingthevoiceout@riseup.net as quickly as you can on the fate of your friend so as to provide us with a global perspective on these deportations/releases.

  • In case of deportation threats

As soon as they arrive at the centre, the migrants can be threatened with deportation to the country of origin by the social worker, without mention of the existing recourses. They should not let themselves be intimidated.
One day though, if the legal proceedings have not reached a positive outcome, they will be given a “ticket” for a trip towards their country of origin or their “Dublin” country. It is then essential to inform the lawyer very quickly as he or she may, in some cases, still be able to introduce a recourse.

At the first deportation attempt, detainees can refuse boarding: they will be brought to the airport and if they refuse to get on the plane, they will be brought back to the detention centre, generally in a calm manner.

At the second deportation attempt (sometimes the third), they will be told they will be escorted and forcefully deported. If they resist, it can become very violent. If the detainee wants support to prevent their deportation, the CRER and Gettingthevoiceout can call upon people to mobilize, go to the airport and talk to the passengers of the flight in question. They’ll explain to the passengers that they have the right to inform the flight captain that they refuse to travel with a man/woman that is being deported by force. They can refuse to sit down as long as the deportee is on the plane.

For more information, please see http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/how-to-stop-a-deportation/

 

  • For the hosts of the Plateforme hébergement citoyen: Coordination groups via Messenger and Whatsapp

Messenger or Whatsapp groups specific to each detention centre have been created.
They connect together the people/families concerned about the fate of a detainee, who would like to coordinate visits (car pools), drop off packages, get info, help and support one another, …
The Plateforme hébergement citoyen has also appointed contact persons for each detention centre (CF)in order to provide information, facilitate coordination with Gettingthevoiceout and stimulate the MP groups. They are voluntary. They are no legal advisors and they don’t liaise with the lawyers.

 

Contact:

– Getting the voice out: http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org – Email: gettingthevoiceout@riseup.net  

– Tel:  +32484026781   

The information shared among the referents and GVO concerning the retainees are kept confidential except prior agreement of the retainee and can only be used in the interest of the retainee, individual or collective. 

Death at the border // Mort à la frontière

A 25 years old young man was found dead, stabbed, in Calais yesterday afternoon, Saturday, 17 March.

This is the second known death from the Calais border in 2018. There will be a memorial gathering today Sunday, 6.30, at Parc Richelieu.


Un jeune homme de 25 ans, probablement afghan, a été trouvé mort à Calais hier samedi 17 mars en fin d’après-midi, poignardé.

C’est le deuxième décès connu à la frontière de Calais en 2018. Il y aura un rassemblement hommage ce soir, dimanche 18 mars, à 18.30 au Parc Richelieu.

CalaisResearch: 40 entreprises qui profitent de l’expulsion de la Jungle et des violences aux frontières

combined-systems

La destruction de la jungle de Calais est sur le point de commencer, mais à qui profite cet acte brutal ? D’une part aux politiciens cyniques, qui lorgnent sur l’élection présidentielle de l’année prochaine, et tentent désespérément de s’accrocher au pouvoir en affichant une politique de fermeté. Mais cela va également augmenter les profits d’une armée d’entreprises privées qui fournissent balles en caoutchouc et fils barbelés, bulldozers et bus vers l’expulsion.

Calais Research Network, un groupe qui s’est formé au mois d’août, a dressé une liste élargie de plus de 40 entreprises qui profitent du régime frontalier. Ces entreprises ont un intérêt à développer la « sécurité » à Calais et au-delà, dans le cadre d’une industrie prospère qui touche aussi bien la privatisation du contrôle des camions que la fabrication de cartouches de gaz lacrymogènes, et que la construction des clôtures et murs qui prolifèrent sans cesse le long de l’autoroute.

La liste complète ainsi que les informations détaillées sur chaque entreprise peuvent être consultées sur le nouveau site internet de Calais Research Network. Cette liste d’entreprises est la première page publiée sur le site. Dans les jours à venir, d’autres pages seront ajoutées afin de cartographier les axes de pouvoir multiples qui façonnent la réalité de la frontière. On y retrouvera des informations complémentaires sur les décideur.euses qui se cachent derrière la sécurisation de Calais, ainsi que des recherches plus détaillées sur les entreprises principales dont Eurotunnel et Vinci.

Cette liste est loin d’être complète, et nous continuerons à la mettre à jour lorsque nous découvrirons plus d’informations. Si vous avez des informations au sujet de ces entreprises ou d’autres, veuillez nous les envoyer à calaisresearch@riseup.net. Votre anonymat sera entièrement respecté. Nous serions également intéressé.es d’entendre plus de rapports de corruption et de collaboration dans le milieu des ONG.

Liste initiale des entreprises qui profitent de la frontière à Calais:

Agents de Sécurité :

Eamus Cork Solutions (ECS): fouille du fret, rétention et « escorte » des prisonnier.es
Tascor: lieux de rétention et transport des personnes retenues
Biro Sécurité: Technologie biométrique et agents de sécurité dans le camp de containers et le Centre Jules Ferry
ATMG: Sécurité sur le site de construction du camp de containers
Mondial Protection: Sécurisation du port et du fret ferroviaire
Wagtail: chiens de détection aux frontières

Murs, Clôtures et Bâtiment:

Vinci, comprenant les filiales Sogea et Eurovia: destruction des camps, construction de murs, et pratiquement tout le reste…
Jackson’s Fencing: clôture de 2015
Zaun Ltd.: clôture pour l’OTAN en 2014
Groupe CW (Clôtures Michel Willoquaux): clôture du camp camp de containers en 2015
Logistic Solutions: containers pour le camp de containers

Technologie à la frontière:

L3 Communications: technologique radiographique et systèmes de scanner
Roke Manor Research / Chemring Group: PMMWI (Passive Millimeter-Wave Imaging) et scannage des véhicules
Thales: sécurité du port et drones
FLIR Systems: caméras thermiques
Smiths Detection: technologique radiographique
AMG Systems: technologie de vidéosurveillance pour Eurotunnel
Clearview Communications: vidéosurveillance pour Eurotunnel
Rapiscan Systems Ltd. / OSI Systems: technologie radiographique
Scan-X Security: technologie radiographique
Chess Dynamics: systèmes optiques diurnes et nocturnes pour les bateaux de la Border Force
SmartWitness: systèmes de surveillance pour camions à monter soi-même
VisionTrack: systèmes de surveillance pour camions à monter soi-même

Rétention et Expulsion:

Twin Jet: expulsions par charters

Services de soutien logistique aux policiers:

IBIS (Accor S.A.): hôtels de prédilection des CRS
Buzzlines Travel: transport en bus des officiers de la UK Border Force

Armes de la police:

SAE Alsetex: gaz lacrymogène
Etienne Lacroix: gaz lacrymogène
Nobel Sport: gaz lacrymogène, type le plus couramment utilisé dans la Jungle
SAPL: grenades de désencerclement
Verney-Carron: flashballs
Brügger & Thomet
Taser France
Marck
Combined Systems: gaz lacrymogène et fusils à balles en caoutchouc

CalaisResearch: 40 companies profiting from the eviction and border violence

combined-systems

The eviction of the Calais jungle is about to begin, but who does this act of brutality serve? On the one hand, cynical politicians looking to the French presidential election next year, desperately trying to cling onto power with a show of toughness. But also, it will boost the profits of a host of private companies who supply the rubber bullets and barbed wire, bulldozers and deportation buses.

Calais Research Network, a research group formed this August, has compiled an expanded list of over 40 companies profiting from the border regime. These companies have an interest in building up ‘security’ in Calais and beyond, part of a flourishing industry surrounding everything from the privatization of lorry inspections to the manufacturing of tear gas canisters and the constantly proliferating fences and walls along the highway.

The full list with detailed information on each company can be viewed on the new Calais Research website. This companies list is the first page to be published on the site. In the coming days further pages will be added to map out some of the many axes of power that shape the reality of the border, including further information on the decision-makers behind the securitisation of Calais, and more detailed investigations of key companies including Eurotunnel and Vinci.

This list is still far from complete, and we will continue to update it as we uncover more information. If you have any information on these companies or others, please send it to us at calaisresearch(at)riseup.net. Your confidentiality will be fully respected. We would also be interested to hear more accounts of corruption and collaboration in the NGO sector.

Initial list of Calais border profiteers:

Security Guards:

Eamus Cork Solutions (ECS): freight searching, detention and prisoner
‘escorting’
Tascor: holding facilities and detainee transport
Biro Sécurité: biometric technology and security guards in the
“Container Camp” and Jules Ferry Centre
ATMG: Security on the container camp construction site
Mondial Protection: port and rail freight security
Wagtail: Border detection dogs

Walls, Fences, and Construction:

Vinci, including subsidiaries Sogea and Eurovia: camp demolitions,
wall construction, and just about everything else …
Jackson’s Fencing: 2015 fence
Zaun Ltd.: 2014 NATO fence
Groupe CW (Clôtures Michel Willoquaux): container camp fences 2015
Logistic Solutions: containers for the Container Camp

Border Technology:

L3 Communications: X-Ray Scanning Equipment
Roke Manor Research / Chemring Group: PMMWI (Passive Millimeter-Wave
Imaging) and Vehicle Scanning
Thales: port security and drones
FLIR Systems: thermal cameras
Smiths Detection: X-Ray technology
AMG Systems: CCTV technology for Eurotunnel
Clearview Communications: Eurotunnel CCTV
Rapiscan Systems Ltd. / OSI Systems: X-Ray Technology
Scan-X Security: X-Ray Technology
Chess Dynamics: day/night vision systems for Border Force boats
SmartWitness: DIY truck security systems
VisionTrack: DIY truck security systems

Deportation and Detention:

Twin Jet: deportation jet charter

Police support services:

IBIS (Accor S.A.): hotel of choice for the CRS riot police
Buzzlines Travel: bus transport of UK Border Force officers

Police weapons:

SAE Alsetex: teargas
Etienne Lacroix: teargas
Nobel Sport: teargas, most common variety used in the Jungle
SAPL: stun grenades
Verney-Carron: flashballs
Brügger & Thomet
Taser France
Marck
Combined Systems: teargas and rubber bullet guns

Le Home Office (ministère de l’intérieur britannique) annonce tranquillement la privatisation à hauteur de £80 million de la sécurité des frontières à Calais

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Pendant que les plans du Royaume-Uni pour le « Super Mur de Calais » font la une, une plus importante affaire de sécurité à Calais s’est traitée silencieusement et sans être remarquée : la privatisation à hauteur de £80 million d’une bonne partie de la sécurité des frontières dans le Nord de la France.
Sans tambour ni trompettes, le Home Office a fait paraître une annonce sur le site européen public « TED » le 9 Juillet 2016 [ http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:241269-2016:TEXT:EN:HTML&src=0 ]. C’était un appel d’offres pour un contrat estimé à £80 million afin de pourvoir des postes pour « 40 agents de fouille assermentés, 24 heures par jour, 365 jours par an » pour la société Eurotunnel et pour les ports de Calais et Dunkerque. Trois des personnels en service doivent aussi être qualifiés comme « agents de surveillance de détenus », responsables de détenir, dans les aménagements du Home Office présents dans les ports, les migrants arrêtés avant qu’ils soient livrés à la police aux frontières française.

C’est déjà de loin le plus gros contrat de sécurité privée annoncé pour Calais. Cela annonce aussi une privatisation de masse de la sécurité des frontières : ces emplois sont actuellement tenus par des agents de la Border Force du Home Office. Il existe une exception pour les aménagements de détention de l’Eurotunnel et de Dunkerque. C’est déjà sous-traité à Tascor, une filiale de Capita, étant une partie d’un autre énorme contrat de sécurité aux frontières pour toutes les « escortes » des déportations et les aménagements de détention à court terme. Un nouvel appel d’offres est actuellement aussi en cours pour ce contrat. Le Home Office a aussi de plus petits contrats privés à Calais pour la sécurité comme les maîtres-chiens, contrat gagné par une entreprise dénommée Wagtail, et avec l’entreprise de sécurité EDS Cork à Dunkerque.

La date limite des candidatures pour le nouveau contrat, gigantesque celui-là, a expiré le 18 Août. Il n’y a pas eu d’annonce pour l’instant sur qui remporte le jackpot de la garde des frontières. A côté de Tascor, les autres fournisseurs privilégiés du Home Office incluent G4S, Seco, Mitie et GEO, qui gèrent tous des centres de détention sur le territoire du Royaume-Uni.

En détails, le contrat comprend :

« Fouille de véhicules (de fret et de tourisme), fouille de personnes, détention et services d’escorte. Il est demandé au fournisseur de prévoir des équipes d’agents de fouille assermentés qui : fouilleront les véhicules en utilisant la technologie de détection ou en travaillant en collaboration avec un autre fournisseur contracté pour fournir des équipes de chiens de détection ; et des fonctions d’escorte qui peuvent requérir la détention d’un individu, pour une période qui est aussi courte que raisonnablement nécessaire et qui n’excède pas 3 heures, en attendant l’arrivée d’un agent de la Border Force ou toute autre autorité à qui l’individu doit être livré. »

Voici quelques unes des plus importantes annonces de financement au sujet de la “sécurité” de Calais au cours des dernières années, dont la somme n’atteint pas 80 millions de livres mais qui permettent de contextualiser celle dont il est question ici :

Home Office quietly advertises £80 million privatisation of Calais border security

15620549169_5b59cd66ca_z.jpg

While the UK’s plans for the “Great Wall of Calais” hit headlines, an even bigger Calais security deal has gone quietly unnoticed: an £80 million privatisation of much of the border security in Northern France.

Without any fanfare from the Home Office, an advertisement appeared on the European public tender website “TED” on 9 July.1 It requested companies to bid for an estimated £80 million contract to provide “40 Authorised Search Officers, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year” for the Eurotunnel, Calais and Dunkerque ports. Three of the staff on duty must also be trained as “detainee custody officers”, responsible for holding arrested migrants in the Home Office’s detention facilities at the ports before they are handed over to French border police.

This is by far the biggest private security contract yet announced for Calais. It also signals a massive privatisation of border security: these jobs are currently done by Home Office Border Force officers. The exception is management of the detention “holding facilities” at the Eurotunnel and Dunkerque. This is already outsourced to Tascor, a Capita subsidiary, as part of another mammoth border security contract for all deportation “escorting” and short term detention facilities. That contract is also currently up for re-tender. The Home Office also has smaller private contracts in Calais for security dog handlers, won by a company called Wagtail, and with security company EDS Cork in Dunkerque.

The deadline for applications for the new mega contract has now expired, on 18 August. There hasn’t yet been an announcement about who hit the border guard jackpot. Besides Tascor, other favoured Home Office contractors include G4S, Serco, Mitie and GEO, who all run detention centres on the UK mainland.

In more detail, the contract includes:

“vehicle searching (freight and tourist vehicles), searching of persons, detention and escorting services. The Contractor is required to provide teams of Authorised Search Officers who will: search vehicles by using detection technology or by working collaboratively with another Contractor contracted to provide detection dog teams; and escorting functions which may require the detention of an individual, for a period which is as short as is reasonably necessary and which does not exceed 3 hours, pending the arrival of a Border Force Officer or other authority to whom the individual is to be delivered.”

To put this deal into context, here are some of the largest previous funding announcements about “security” in Calais in the past years, which don’t reach £80 million between them:

  • 2014: European Commission grants €3.8 million in “emergency funding” to co-finance the creation of the “Jules Ferry” day centre2
  • September 2014: £12m / €15m Joint Fund is established by Bernard Cazenueve and Theresa May 3
  • July 2015: UK announces £2m for a “secure zone” in Calais for UK-bound lorries, and £7m for other security measures. 4
  • March 2015: UK applies to the EC’s AMIF for €27 million in migration-related funds, which it receives a few months later. France also receives €20 million from the fund in August 2015.) 5
  • August 2015: “Managing Migratory Flows in Calais” Joint Declaration: UK pledged to pay £3.5m (€5 million) per year over two years towards the measures in the deal in addition to money previously pledged. Statement explains there will be an extra 500 police from the UK and France, as well as additional freight search teams, dogs and UK-funded deportation flights.6
  • 31 August 2015: European Commission announces €5.2 million in “emergency assistance” to set up area around Jules-Ferry and to fund the “transport” of refugees and migrants from Calais to other locations in France.7
  • March 2016: France-UK Summit releases £17 million / €22 million for Calais security (and €2 billion for drones globally). 8

the Calais Research Network

1 http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:241269-2016:TEXT:EN:HTML&src=0
2 Mentioned here: ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-is-n…
3 Some break down of how this was spent is provided here: www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/253987/r…
4 www.bbc.com/news/uk-33992952
5 Calais doesn’t seem to have been the main focus in the use of these funds, however. They have been used primarily for deportations in the UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/542335/AMIF_Project_List_July_2016.pdf
6 www.bbc.com/news/uk-33992952
7 ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-is-n…
8 www.france24.com/en/20160303-hollande-c…

Fuel

How to (nearly) incite a riot: Lessons from the French police in the Jungle

 

On Tuesday the Calais police made a dangerous move to fuel violence in an already-tense moment in the Jungle. If violence erupts, the state will have the blood on their hands. For now, the communities in the Jungle have refused to rise to the bait.

On Monday night, conflict broke out on the motorway near Marck, between predominantly Afghan and Sudanese groups attempting to make the crossing to the UK. The police were called in with water cannons to disperse the crowd. In the course of the evening, 15 Sudanese were hospitalised and one was killed. The exact circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear.
On Tuesday, a gang of at least 20 cops – some CRS, some Police Judiciare – entered the Jungle at approximately 6pm. They marched to the intersection on the main road where the Sudanese and Afghan neighbourhoods meet, held formation, weapons ready, and seemed to post a single photo on the wall of a building.
The photo was apparently a close-up image of the man who had been killed the night before. Dead.
The police stood in formation and watched, with one filming those passing by. They then marched through the Jungle, concealing themselves in the La Vie Active container park, surrounded by fences and private security. Before leaving, one of the Policia Judiciare, having his unmarked car filmed by an activist, physically grabbed and threatened the activist, while a colleague threateningly told them to ‘Take care.’
Once the police were gone, tensions began to rise. The conversations spread throughout the Jungle like wildfire. The usual groups of twos and threes on the main road were replaced by bigger groups – five, ten, fifteen, mostly divided by nationality.
The outrage in the Sudanese quarter was palpable. One of their brothers had been killed the night before, and the police had piled insult and disrespect onto the tragedy, by photographing the deceased and then posting the photo in the middle of a public place, like a looming threat or a game trophy to be paraded through the streets.
Africans of different nationalities began to group together and Afghans with cricket bats, pipes and planks of wood began to fill the streets, milling about, as tensions rose.
Remarkably, the afternoon ended in relative calm, though the possibility of violence has far from gone. Several reports have said that community leaders managed to defuse tensions before they erupted into serious violence. While the ongoing tensions between different communities in the Jungle are constantly exacerbated by the state, via evictions and the resulting overcrowding, the police intervention surrounding this murder seemed deeply irresponsible at best, and outright criminal at worst.
Whatever the circumstances surrounding this man’s death, to post a photo of a dead body in a public place, at the geographic juncture between the two primary communities involved, is an insult to the deceased and to the community. It is also an incitement to violence.
Like spreading rumours to stoke existing tensions, the police’s move appears to have been aimed at inciting violence in the Jungle, as happened in February. After the photo posting, they left and were not to be seen. They chucked a match into the petrol and then walked away.
The lack of violence following the death of the Sudanese man and the following instigations by the police, is a testament to a collective maturity winning out in the Jungle under massively unfavourable circumstances. The actions of the police provided more than the kindling, but also the spark for a wildfire that very nearly was. Even before the police arrived, violence between communities was a very-real possibility; after their intervention, it seemed almost inevitable. Yet the moment passed.
Of course, the police will deny any ill-intent, and argue that they were simply investigating the death of the night before and searching for witnesses or new information. But such tactics must not be allowed to pass unnoticed. The police and the prefecture know that clearing the Jungle faces many obstacles, from both the people living there, as well as the political fall-out of the heavy-handed action that a major eviction would inevitably require.
If the boiling anger of 9,000 people living in often-subhuman conditions can be used as a tool to either destroy parts of the Jungle itself (through riots and arson, etc), or as a pretext for escalating police violence, then the police will surely do their best to exploit and encourage this anger. Which is what they did on Tuesday.
What may appear one of the cops’ more innocuous interventions into the Jungle on Tuesday, very nearly became one of their most-destructive. So far, the levee has held against immense odds, but if it breaks, the state will have blood on its hands.