Tagged: housing

REFUGEES IN CALAIS: THE HUNGER STRIKE HAS BEGUN

As agreed, the refugees occupying the food distribution center had breakfast together this morning. They formed two groups, those who will continue to eat and those who are fasting. Those fasting had slightly larger portions. They sat in the middle of the courtyard. Yesterday, they made a list of 53 people willing to get involved. By late morning, there were more than thirty of them waiting for those who had tried to cross that night to join them – something they will no longer be able to do during the fast. This afternoon, we should know more precisely how many will participate in the hunger strike.

Their spokesperson can be reached at 07 53 93 21 53 (he speaks English).

Here is the text of the call-out on which they agreed:

FROM THE MIGRANTS OF CALAIS
TO THE FRENCH AND BRITISH AUTHORITIES

After the destruction of our camps and our occupation of the food distribution center, French authorities came to meet with us two times. They told us that they would come again to speak with us on Thursday, June 3. Nobody came and we haven’t heard any news from them.

Today, Wednesday, June 11, some of us, with all of our support, will begin a hunger strike. We ask the French and British authorities to to resume the interrupted dialogue and meet with us without delay.

We remind them of our demands:

– Houses in Calais for all the migrants who wish to go to England and for asylum seekers who are forced to live in the street
– Houses with decent hygienic conditions: toilets, showers, garbage collection
– Houses where we can come and go whenever we like, in order to be able to continue trying to cross to England
– Houses protected from police controls, harassment and evictions
– Access to three meals a day
– Negotiations between France and the United Kingdom to allow people access to British territory.

originally published on http://passeursdhospitalites.wordpress.com

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Another illegal eviction in Calais

After Natasha Bouchart, Senator-Mayor of Calais, presented her new anti-squatting law in the senate last week, the illegal evictions continue in Calais.

A new house was opened in Calais on the weekend of May 31st to 1st June. After a week of going unnoticed (to avoid possible eviction without a trial in the first 48 hour), the occupation was made public on Sunday, June 8 (despite some confusing information announcing it as “the next opening” published on the website of La Voix du Nord on Saturday, June 7th ), and the first contact was made with passersby, neighbors and the bar newsagent opposite. Some of them considered the occupation of this house, which has been empty for three years, totally legitimate. Another house on the street about fifty yards away is already squatted.
That same day, at 11am, the police came by for the first time accompanied by a someone from the Calais OPH (Office of Public Housing), who tried to open the door. After a lot of reflection and many key turns in vain, they concluded that this house did not belong to them. The police then refused to take the evidence of the occupation that was presented to them (Attestation of Justice testimonies, photos, screen shots) kept together in a closed letter officially stamped the 2nd June and also a second copy of the same evidence provided separately. A journalist present at the time later interviewed the Mayor, who said she would file a complaint and send a safety inspection team there next Tuesday to see if the building might be suitable for public use.
On Monday 9th June, chairs, mattresses and other furniture were brought to 86 rue Massena to make the space more comfortable. But at 18:00, half a company of CRS police turned up with the owner. Using a battering ram, the CRS destroyed the door (on which the police had not found any traces of a break-in). The four people in the house were arrested, handcuffed and then taken away. The cops justified this operation with the testimony of a neighbor (a”friend of the owner,” in his own words) who stated that the building was empty Sunday 8th at 5 am. The inhabitants were asleep in the house at this time.
What is the point of certificates of justice and witness statements by other neighbors if the word of the owner’s friend alone is enough to say that a building is empty? … A perfect pretext for an eviction.
Thirty minutes after the evacuation, city services were already there to “secure” the house. The police said that people would be able to get their belongings back from inside, but were later prevented from doing so. The municipal services of Calais locked everything inside. In Calais, they throw you onto the street without so much as a blanket.
The occupants were only informed of the fact that they had been arrested after being locked up. One person was deprived of water and a blanket throughout their detention (20 hours) and another, who is asthmatic, had to wait several hours to retrieve their inhaler.
For anyone who needs a roof, Calais remains a lawless zone, or rather a zone where the law is manipulated and stretched according to the will of its political representatives.
Besides, if this legal system was ever respected for the sake of justice (a blinding illusion), how can it be that the offense of property damage in a group, which is often used to justify the arrests, then disappears and leaves, after release, only prosecutions for the refusal to submit DNA samples and fingerprints . Maybe we can see here a fertile ground for defense lawyers who’ve been broken down by the shitty politico-police maneuvers and whose actions in the past have brought their fruit in terms of dismissals and other abandoned cases.
This is hardly the worst abuse in Calais, but still it seems important to make this story known. As in other cases, we shouldn’t let ourselves get used to the bitter taste of an ever more impossible to swallow, failed democracy which has nothing more to offer than batons, arrogance and still other, less and less sustainable “legal frameworks”: there is still time to vomit.
All four of the arrestees, two under their own names, will appear on 22nd July at TGI Boulogne-sur-mer for refusal to provide DNA and fingerprints. The two others, registered as only as X, face the same charges.

Housing for all!

Demonstration in the City

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Since the destruction of the two camps on May 28th, ordered by the city, between 200 and 300 refugees have gathered together at the food distribution center, SALAM.

They are refusing to disperse and demand that the authorities tell them where they can go to live in peace.

For the first time in Calais, the Sudanese, Eritrean, Afghan and Syrian communities are all united, and for the first time the prefecture has sent a mediator to ‘negotiate’ with the migrants.

But since the May 31st, the negotiator has not returned. The migrants are left in uncertainty. Can they remain at SALAM in peace or do they have to fear eviction in the coming days?

The testimonies of police brutality against isolated people in other parts of the port don’t inspire anyone to leave the group. The list of demands drafted by representatives of each community were taken to the sub-prefecture on May 30th.

Faced with the silence of the authorities, the refugees living at SALAM decided to hold a demonstration in the streets of Calais last Saturday, June 7th, to call attention to their demands and call for the resumption of negotiations.

A few stayed in the camp to keep watch, while more than 200 others, refugees of all nationalities and their supporters, marched toward the town center with drums, banners, signs and fliers to inform the populace.

A communique with their demands.

And another (in French) denouncing the town hall for evicting the camps just so the tourists who come for the maritime festival “Escale à Calais” [Port of Call Calais] don’t have to see the miserable living conditions of the refugees in Calais.

The little fascists of ‘Sauvons Calais’ followed the demonstration from afar, but did not manage to disturb it. One of them stuck his arm out in a Nazi salute, only to take to his heels and run. Another drove by in a car, shouting “they all belong in the oven!”, right beneath the eyes of the police, who did nothing in response to his inflammatory, hateful comments.

In general, passers-by reacted to the demonstration with goodwill and accepted the fliers. New supporters followed the group, which stopped for a moment in front of the town hall before continuing toward the theater and returning to the camp, two hours after they had left.

If the authorities continue to ignore the united communities of the camp at SALAM, more demonstrations will certainly follow.

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The Demands of the Exiles

A long process of discussion took place, within and between each community, before agreeing on a common wording. It lasted part of yesterday and today and resulted in the following text, addressed to the prefect of the Pas de Calais and delivered to the subprefect.
It was also taken to deputy Yann Capet, who came to meet the refugees and the associations at the food distribution center.

“Mr. Prefect,
We invite you to come and meet with us to discuss solutions to our situation. You will find our demands below.
In the meantime, we ask you to accept our sincere greetings.
The refugees present in Calais.

We, the homeless migrants of Calais, have occupied the food distribution center. All of the communities have come together and decided to unite to find a solution for our situation. We do not want to live like animals anymore, we want to live like normal human beings and to have access to dignified living conditions, no matter whether we have papers or not.

We have all come to Europe to demand asylum and we have reasons for doing so in the country of our choice. The vast majority of us wish make our claim in England. Those who were still not convinced, after staying in Calais for some time and having seen the disgraceful living conditions here and the treatment given to asylum seekers, do not want to live in France.

We can no longer accept that dogs are treated better treated we are and we will not leave here until we are guaranteed access to living conditions worthy of human beings. We will stay and resist here, united and visible, until our demands are heard. We wish to meet with you to share the following demands:

Houses in Calais for all the migrants who wish to go to England and for asylum seekers who are forced to live in the street
Houses with decent hygienic conditions: toilets, showers, garbage collection
Houses where we can come and go whenever we like, in order to be able to continue trying to cross to England
Houses protected from police controls, harassment and evictions
Access to three meals a day
Negotiations between France and the United Kingdom to allow people access to British territory.”

Banners on the fence of the food distribution center