Today saw a demonstration in Calais, organized by people in the jungle. The protest was planned to coincide with the massive rally held in London, and to bring attention back to the refugees already in Calais while the UK decides to accept more from overseas. Todays march adds to the almost daily protests by people in Calais in the last week.
Early this afternoon a group of three hundred left the jungle and began walking into town. They were demanding an end to being forced to live in the jungle, freedom of movement for everyone, and to open the border to the UK. Many others joined during the way or in the centre of town. The protest brought together people from all the different migrant communities in the city. As is past through the jungle, with people singing dancing, chanting, playing music and calling to others to join in, it felt as much like a party as a protest.
Calais’ mayor Natacha Bouchart, who yesterday put more pressure on the prefect to increase the policing of the recent wave of peaceful demonstrations, had fencing erected around the Mairie, and hired private security guards to stand behind it. Because of this, the demonstration, which in previous cases had rallied in front of the town hall, was this time stopped by the CRS just before getting there. The result was a stand off between protesters and police that saw the police use CS gas on the protesters, some of which were children.
After this attack everyone sat down and began to hold a rally. People took turns speaking into the megaphones and leading chants, dancing, and singing. During this time the Syrians walked down from where they are staying in order to join the demonstration. This continued for around an hour until the police began to start pushing people back, trying to move them on. The protesters responded by running past their lines and into the center of Calais, where they occupied the Boulevard Jacquard. The police, while at first trying to prevent them from occupying the street eventually had to retreat and surrender the main shopping street to the group for a couple of hours while another rally was held. There was a lot of engagement here with the local Calais people who stopped to watch and listen to what the demonstrator’s were demanding.
After the rally, people returned to the jungle, largely at a time of their choosing shouting all the way back. The feeling in the group was really positive as even though they had been stopped from marching down one street they were able to get around the police and occupy and disrupt Calais’ main shopping street. There was a lot of really positive reactions to the demonstration from the Calaisiennes, and it was really encouraging for the protesters to continue their struggle and demonstrations in the coming days.
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:
For more information about deportations by Air France and KLM, please go to:
Stop all deportation flights! Freedom of movement and settlement for all!
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.