Attacks in Calais against migrants have increased massively in the past few months in both severity and frequency. We have seen many migrants beaten by police causing broken legs, arms and facial injuries. We have also heard many reports of police chasing migrants into busy motorways, which have been the cause of deaths over the last few months. Last week an Eritrean man was hit by a car whilst being chased by police, luckily he survived but others didn’t.
On Friday 19th December I was witnessed a similar attack by police forcing people to run in front of traffic. Several Eritrean men were sitting on a dividing barrier along the motorway near Leader Price waiting for truck traffic to back up on the road.
A Peugeot Police Nationale car with three officers inside pulled up on the other side of the road behind the sitting men. They opened the doors and sat with their legs out of the car, hands on batons ready to charge at the men sitting on the barrier. At that moment the road was clear, with a group of trucks approaching at about 50 – 60 mph. The police rushed at the men right before the truck was going to pass, running at them with their batons out and forcing the migrants to flee in front of the moving truck.
The truck driver repeatedly hit his horn but made no attempts to slow down, seemingly just annoyed by the migrants for ‘being in his way.’ The men narrowly passed before the truck with the last man less than half a meter from being run down.
After the attack I saw the three police laughing and mocking the migrants, clearly taking a lot of pleasure in causing pain and suffering.
It is obvious to me after witnessing this attack by the police that it was fully their intention to cause serious injury or death to the migrants. The police in Calais are actively creating situations in which deaths of migrants is a likely outcome.
Other witnesses have told of similar incidents, including in the death of an unknown man on 1st December 2014 and police pushing migrants into the cold winter water whilst beating them with batons.
Racism in the police is extremely apparent and the feeling of being untouchable seems to be increasing which in turns increases their confidence to attack migrants more and more brutally.
The police are currently operating without any fear of justice. They attacks are carried out away from the eyes of the local Calais population, against undocumented and unaccounted migrants. No Border activists have been making attempts to film police during attacks but so far have been arrested and had their cameras destroyed with high voltage electricity at the police station.
Les attaques contre les migrants à Calais ont augmenté massivement au cours des derniers mois à la fois en ce qui concerne gravité et la fréquence. Nous avons vu de nombreux migrants se faire battre par la police causant des fractures importantes au niveaux des bras et des jambes ainsi que des blessures au visage. Nous avons aussi beaucoup entendu parlé de la police chassant migrants, les forçant à s’échapper en traversant l’autoroute. Ce type d’attaque a été la cause de décès au cours des derniers mois. La semaine dernière, un homme a été érythréen heurté par une voiture tout en étant pourchassé par la police, il a heureusement survécu, mais d’autres ne ont pas eu cette chance.
Le vendredi 19 Décembre j’ai été témoin d’une attaque similaire par la police forçant les gens à courir devant dans le trafic. Plusieurs hommes érythréens étaient assis sur une barrière de séparation le long de l’autoroute près de Leader Price attentant d’avoir la voie libre pour traverser sans danger. Une voiture Peugeot Police Nationale avec trois officiers se sont arrêtés tous près des hommes Erythréen assis de l’autre côté de la route. Ils ont ouvert les portes et se sont assis avec les jambes hors de la voiture, les mains sur matraques, prêt à charger les hommes assis sur la barrière. A ce moment, la route était clair, suivi par un un groupe de camions approchant à environ 50 à 60 mph. La police à chargé sur les hommes juste avant que le camion passe, courant leur matraques à la main et forçant les migrants à fuir devant le camion roulant à toute allure.
Le conducteur du camion a frappé à plusieurs reprises son klaxon, mais n’a fait aucune tentative pour ralentir, apparemment juste agacé par les migrants «d’être sur son chemin». Les hommes ont passé de justesse avant que le camion passe. Le dernier homme à passé à moins d’un demi-mètre de se faire écraser.
Après l’attaque, je ai vu les trois policiers en riant et se moquant des migrants, en prenant manifestement beaucoup de plaisir à causer de la douleur et de la souffrance.
Il est évident pour moi après avoir assisté à cette attaque de la par de la police qu’il était pleinement leur intention de causer des blessures graves ou même la mort des migrants. La police à Calais créent activement des situations dans lesquelles la mort des migrants est un résultat probable.
D’autres témoins ont partagé que des incidents similaires, y compris la mort d’un homme inconnu le 1er Décembre 2014 et la police poussant migrants dans l’eau froide d’hiver tout en les frappant avec des matraques.
Le racisme dans la police est extrêmement apparent et le sentiment d’être intouchable semble être en augmentation qui à son tour augmente leur confiance pour attaquer les migrants de plus en plus brutalement.
Les policiers agissent actuellement sans aucune crainte de la justice. Leurs attaques sont menées loin des yeux de la population locale Calais, contre les migrants sans papiers et portées disparues. Des militants No Border ont fait des tentatives pour filmer la police au cours d’attaques mais jusqu’ici ils ont été arrêtés et leurs caméras a été détruites avec l’électricité à haute tension aux poste de police.
We have a piece of writing about who we are that has already been translated into Pasto and Dari. We still need some other languages, especially Arabic, Persian and Kurdish. B and I headed down to the “Palestinian Jungle” to say hi and hopefully make some contacts there.
As with all the Jungles I have visited, the people sitting around makeshift structures in the port were friendly and pleased to see us. We brought them candles and some oranges, which they shared with us.
We chatted to a weathered-looking man from Sudan who told us he has been living in Calais for the past eight years, in the structure nearest to where we were sitting. B and I were both shocked. Eight years is by far the longest any of us has heard of someone living in the Jungle. I asked if he was trying to get to England but he shook his head slowly, pointed to his hair, his knees, his tattered clothes. “I am fifty-seven, nearly fifty-eight. I stay here in Calais.”
We spoke with some of the other men, mostly from Sudan, one from Eritrea. Most spoke reasonably good English. There were no Palestinians in sight and I have since discovered it has been mis-named, although some people report having met at least one Palestinian there previously. This is the most international of the Jungles with a mixture of different nationalities living together.
After three games of dominoes in which the winner was unclear (I never did understand the rules of that game), the CRS police suddenly showed up. Some of the men got up. Some shouted, some ran away and were chased by police with truncheons. One man hid behind the sofa we were sitting on. The remaining men stayed where they were sitting and laughed at the others being chased by the cops. This was obviously such a familiar scene that it had become a source of some amusement. To us it came as something of a shock. B went over to the police to confront them. I was on my way to back him up when I saw them check his ID Shit – I still don’t have my passport! I backed off and went back to the guys still sitting around the dominoes table. Some of the others were standing near to the waters edge, pretending they were about to jump whenever the cops came near. It seemed to work really well. The police obviously weren’t too keen in jumping in after them. The men by the dominoes table thought it was a hoot! Eventually I managed to figure out that I had our emergency phone number in my pocket and after a couple of botched attempts I succeeded in remembering the French code.
Within a few minutes around ten activists were on the scene on bikes, some with cameras – filming the cops filming us. The CRS were clearly not very pleased to see us. They were checking IDs and photographing people, sometimes a few cm’s away from people’s faces, an intimidation tactic familiar to me from experiences in the UK.
To my shame I stayed well back, fearful of arrest without any ID. The migrants have to put up with this everyday – sometimes more than once a day. Yes, I am a coward. But I am getting better. At least I am here in Calais.
The police left without arresting anyone, but unfortunately returned later when most of us had gone and took three people.
1st August 2009
A UK journalist, NUJ member, was taking photos at the Ethiopian squat. When police arrived to try and arrest migrants there he was told by CRS, French riot police, that he could not take any photos. His camera was taken off him and the photos taken at the time deleted.
6th August 2009
The same UK journalist was at the Ethiopian squat when CRS again turned up. As they did he discreetly handed his camera to one of the Ethiopians who took it inside the squat. Police then told him that it was illegal under French law to photograph the police and got aggressive with him. They asked for his camera. At this point he showed his NUJ ID and UK ID, saying that “in a democracy I don’t think police should have the authority to exercise editorial control over images people could see”. He called his NUJ union representative and has since enagaged NUJ legal advisors on the issue. He was not prepared to say where his equipment was and was detained for 15 minutes while police made calls and then changed their minds and released him.
Relevant article of police law stating it is not illegal to photograph police, unless engaged in secret service activities, English translations coming soon: