Tagged: freedom

Protest at Calais Town Hall

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Today a demonstration organised by people in the camp, of approximately two hundred people took place. The protesters met outside the food distribution centre as with the previous day’s protest. It was then agreed that the crowd would march into Calais. Moving through the jungle, the demonstration was met with smiles, cries of support and people pumping their fists in the air. There were members of most nationalities in the jungle present. Walking down the road into the town, it was expected that the protest would be blocked by police at any moment. The march, however, was able to continue into the town. The people were chanting “liberté!”, “freedom!”, “no borders, no nations, stop deportations!”, “Hurreeya!” and “azadi!” Once the march entered the town the chanting and clapping intensified so that the inhabitants of Calais would definitely hear the message of the oppressed.banners

Eventually the march arrived at the Town Hall. Once there, they sat down and held up their banners so that the message could be clearly visible. The gathering was peaceful, with some singing and a little chanting. Then, to the utter surprise of all present, Natasha Bouchart, the Mayor of Calais, arrived to speak to the migrants, along with Phillipe Mignonet and Emmanuel Agius! This has never happened before in Calais to the best of our knowledge.

Bouchart was cynically trying to appear humane and open by talking with the people. However, the politicians were deaf to the migrants demands, only repeating the same tired lines that the people must claim asylum in France in order to receive any assistance, and that the border was a European problem and a British problem, and out of their hands. They suggested that the people go to the sub Prefecture to protest there.

Nobody was taken in by the bullshit of the politicians. The people have called for continued action and protest. The demands are clear even if the politicians cannot understand them. The people will continue to fight and to take to the streets until the borders are no more. Another demonstration is planned for tomorrow with the intent of having as much support as possible: for people to come to the demonstration and to march with them. There has never been a better time to come and to show active solidarity with the people who are fighting for freedom.

Freedom for channel walker Abdul Rahman Haroun!

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At the start of August, Abdul Rahman Haroun, a Sudanese man, was arrested just short of the exit to the Channel Tunnel in Folkstone, UK, having walked 50km through the tunnel from Calais. He successfully crossed the Channel Tunnel on foot, making it to the UK unharmed and undetected. The British and French governments pretend that they can control the flows of people across the border, spending millions of pounds on fences and cameras. They like to believe they can turn the UK into a fortress but Abdul Rahman Haroun has proved them wrong and because of that they intend to make an example out of him.

Having traveled from Sudan all the way to Britain to seek sanctuary, he now faces up to two years in prison. He has been charged under an outdated piece of legislation, the Malicious Damages Act of 1861, ‘for obstructing a railway carriage or engine’. He had a court date on the 24th of August where he plead not guilty but was remanded in custody by the judge. Being placed on remand for such an offence relates to the political nature of his arrest and is totally uncalled for. He has a further hearing in November and following that a trial in January 2016. He is currently being held in HMP Elmley in Kent.

As he is being prosecuted under such an arcane piece of legislature (the Malicious Damages Act has its history in the criminilsation of dissent by the Luddites in the 18th Century and has recently been used to detain protesters involved in direct action), his prosecution is clearly a politically motivated attack on the freedom of movement designed to intimidate those who would follow his example.

His actions have made him a target but he has a good defense. Under Section 31 of the Refugee Convention and within British law, it is accepted that people may enter the UK ‘illegally’ if doing so to claim asylum. However, as we have witnessed in the past few years, the Tories don’t care much for ‘human rights’ and Abdul needs our solidarity and support to fight their malicious form of justice.

As it stands, his remand means that even if he is found not guilty at trial, he will have already spent 5 months in jail. However, it would not stop there, if found guilty it could have serious consequences for his ability to regularise his status in the UK. A dual punishment that often occurs in the UK, where people who have served out the sentence for their ‘crimes’ (which can be offenses related to immigration) are then punished a second time, by being denied Indefinite Leave to Remain or by being immediately deported (if their country of origin is a country the UK considers ‘safe’).

Abdul’s incarceration and prosecution is an attempt to set a clear example to anyone considering the same journey as him. An attempt to put fear and doubt into the heads of people in Calais about what awaits them on the other side of the channel. We must show them that they cannot scare us into submission with their prisons and their courts!

We absolutely condemn the continued incarceration and prosecution of Abdul. Freedom for Abdul. Freedom for all those detained and incarcerated by the border regime. No one is free until we are all free!

Au début du mois d’août, un homme d’origine soudanaise, Abdul Rahman Haroun, a été arrêté alors qu’il sortait tout juste du tunnel sous la Manche situé côté anglais à Folkstone. Il venait de parcourir les 50 km à pied sous le tunnel, depuis Calais, sans se blesser ni se faire repérer. Les gouvernements français et anglais prétendent contrôler le flux de migrants arrivant aux frontières, dépensant des millions d’euros en barbelés et caméras de surveillance. Ils aiment à croire qu’ils sont entrain de faire de l’Angleterre une forteresse bien gardée, mais  Abdul Rahman Haroun leur a prouvé le contraire et Ils comptent bien le lui faire payer.

Parti du Soudan pour chercher refuge en Angleterre, il encourt aujourd’hui jusqu’à deux ans de prison. Il est inculpé, sous un mandat législatif périmé The Malicious Damages Act of 1861, “d’obstruction à locomotive ou wagon de chemin de fer”. Convoqué le 24 août dernier, il a plaidé non coupable, mais a été placé en détention par le juge. Être incarcéré pour ce type de délit est complètement disproportionné et révèle clairement le caractère politique de cette arrestation. Une prochaine audience est prévue en novembre prochain, avant le procès qui lui aura lieu en janvier 2016.  Abdul Rahman Haroun est actuellement détenu à Elmley dans le Kent.

Étant poursuivi sous une telle législature (“The Malicious Damage Act” qui a été créée dans le but de poursuivre les dissidents de l’église anglicane au XVIIIème siècle, et a été récemment utilisée pour enfermer des personnes accusées d’action directe), nous affirmons haut et fort que cette affaire est clairement politique et constitue une attaque à la liberté de circulation. Abdul Rahman Haroun sert de bouc émissaire pour intimider ceux et celles qui voudraient suivre son exemple.

Ses actions ont fait de lui une cible, mais il dispose d’une bonne défense. D’après l’article 31 de la convention des réfugiés, ainsi que dans la loi anglaise, il est possible d’entrer “illégalement” sur le territoire anglais si c’est dans le but de demander l’asile. Cependant, comme nous en avons toutes et tous été témoins ces dernières années, le gouvernement se fiche bien des “Droits de l’Homme”, et Abdul a besoin de notre soutien et de notre solidarité pour combattre leur justice perverse.

Dans l’état actuel des choses, son renvoi d’audience montre que même s’il est jugé non coupable lors du procès, il aura déjà passé 5 mois en prison. Mais ça ne s’arrête malheureusement pas là. S’il est jugé coupable cela pourrait avoir des conséquences dramatiques quant à sa demande de régularisation en Angleterre. Une double peine récurrente au Royaume-Uni, laissant les personnes ayant purgé leur peine sans aucun droit sur le territoire, ou même directement expulsées (si leur pays d’origine est considéré par l’État comme non dangereux).

L’incarcération d’Abdul et ses poursuites judiciaires montre clairement la volonté de l’État à faire de lui un exemple pour quiconque souhaiterait tenter le même voyage. Une tentative d’intimidation, faire peur, faire douter les gens à Calais sur ce qui les attend de l’autre côté. Montrons-leur que nous n’avons pas peur d’eux avec leurs tribunaux et leurs prisons!

Nous condamnons fermement l’incarcération et la poursuite d’Abdul. Liberté pour Abdul. Liberté pour toutes celles et ceux détenus par le régime des frontières. On ne peut être libre quand les autres sont enfermés.