About 150 Syrians went to the ferry port to demonstrate. In the evening they held a candle lit vigil in front of the Town Hall , and many decided to pass the night there. They are asking to be let in the UK, through legal and safe ways of travelling. They are saying they are only 300 Syrians in Calais.
The Syrians were violently moved on by police, and dispersed at about 1 am. Some supporters also attacked by CRS (7 vans) and some local racists shouted hate speeches from their windows – one even did a Nazi salute. The CRS pushed the Syrian protesters back towards the jungle.
Since many more police are patrolling the motorway and also at the Eurostar terminal, there have been fewer attempts to cross. People are depressed, bored and frustrated. New people keep arriving in growing numbers and they get stuck in the jungle. There are probably over 3500 people in the jungle now and numbers keep going up. There are many women sleeping in the jungle, some young children and a huge number of unaccompanied minors, the youngest is 8. New people often do not understand where they are and why they are now in such a bad situation. It is just appalling that they expect anyone to live in such a situation, let alone children and injured and/or traumatized people. Thank you Bernard Cazeneuve.
In the morning the mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart went to visit the jungle with a delegation from Parliament and a small police escort. They stopped briefly outside the school. It seems as if they didn’t talk to any of the migrants or refugees, they simply surveyed the human suffering caused by the border.
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.
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.
Winter has arrived with storms and rains. The big jungles and Galloo squat are still there; Tioxide-jungle with 2 restaurants, school, church, mosque and a shop. (see below news about forthcoming evictions). There are around 2000 people living rough in these spaces. The cold weather shelter is open occasionally with 350 sleeping spaces: it’s located far from the city and even when open it is not easily accessible due to the short opening hours.
December saw a high level of police violence concentrated on truck parkings and traffic jams leading to the Euro Tunnel and port. Attacks were sporadic and beatings seemingly random, aimed at discouraging migrants form trying for England and plainly expressing police racism. Police chased people into oncoming traffic, broke many limbs, and regularly used pepper spray at point blank range. They destroyed cameras when people attempted to film these illegal acts of violence.
When arrested from the streets near the jungles people were often taken to far away detention centers, such as Rennes, Metz, Nimes, Strasbourg and Paris. Some were even transported by plane to distant detention centers via a small airport in Calais.
The border entails various forms of violence. Migration controls violates women’s rights through racism and sexism in a way that these two systems of oppression are very much interlinked.
The hospital of Calais refuses to carry out abortions for migrants with an extremly cowardly explanation. The authorities based their decision on law that says that you cannot travel to France to have an abortion there, obviously that is not the case of the women at all. They systematically send women that could not proove an official residence in France to the hospital of Grande Synthe, that is 50 kilometers away. They claim that this is because they are concerned about the womens security, since abortion is supposed to be a specific medical intervention (although it is an intervention like any other with very low risks) they say it is to dangerous for the women to go back to the jungle afterwards. So yeah, they think staying pregnant against their own will is healthier and safer for the women.
After complaints having been made, the hospital should be called out by the ministry of health, since this racist, selective practice of carrying out basic health services is completely illegal!
However, not all was bleak. There were a few festive moments, namely a demo on the International Migrants’ day on the 18th, a couple of small Christmas parties in the jungles and a big New Years party at the Galloo Squat. The demo was organized by various associations as a response to the ‘Wall of Shame’, a large security fence recently installed by the UK government to increase security in the Ferry Port and previously used for the NATO summit in Cardiff. It was well-attended with over 1000 people. All of the parties were a great success with no violent police interventions or other incidents – just wild dancing to a very mixed play list and general merriment.
Next week on wednesday at 2pm (Centre Social Espace Fort Yves
2 B Rue D Ajaccio) self defense classes for women, trans* and queers will start ! These classes will hopefully take place regularly on a longterm basis- we are still looking for teachers that are happy to come around and hold one or several classes!
What to expect for January ?
An eviction notice, without a specific date being set has been placed in front of the sudanese jungle and the Bois Dubrulle (forest on the opposite side of Tioxide mainly inhabited by the afghan and ethiopian comunity) by the CRS. Several asylum seekers living in the spaces being threatened are ready to challenge the decision in court.
The last official announcements made by the prefecture claimed that there would be no forced evictions of any living spaces until the new day center opens. So when does it open? Food is supposed to be served there starting from mid-january and the original opening date of the center was set for the end of the month. But it seems like there are some additional works inside the building that take up more time than foreseen, so we don’t reall know at what point they actually wanna get going. Anyways we aren’t waiting for it with high expectations. The day center is part of a wider anti-migration strategy and comes along with other agreements between Natacha Bouchart and Cazeneuve with the UK (more policemen in Calais, closing-off of the port with the fence all around). Starting from the moment the daycenter opens, all other squats and jungles etc. are supposed to disappear and a ‘zero tolerance politic’ towards them has been announced. All services for migrants are supposed to be centralised in this space far from the city center, in order to concentrate the migrants outside of Calais. There will be no sleeping places for men, camping will be tolerated on the fields around. The outcome will be an even more official segregation between the habitants of the city and the migrants being locked out in the middle of nowhere.
Sunday, like every Sunday for more than two years, people of many nationalities gathered in the citadel, a sports area in Calais to play football
However in recent weeks it seems the Town Hall has decided it no longer wants ‘migrants’ to play football in public areas.
On Sunday, September 7, the group Sauvons Calais, supported by radical far-right organizations, demonstrate before the town hall of Calais. A ‘Football Against Racism’ tournament is organised in parallel on the grounds of the citadel, where they play every Sunday. But they find the citidel doors closed because of a decision of the municipality to prevent the tournament. So people decided to move the tournament to a different field, people had a great day and it finished beautifully with a rap battle.
On Sunday, September 14, people come again to train at the citadel as usual. The caretaker of the citadel tells them they are not allowed to play. They ask for an official written decision, there is none – so they start playing. Three officials from the Town Hall; Agius, Garnet and Mignonet with their favourite police ushers, came down personally to tell people the Mayor does will not allow them to play football on this public land. They say the Mayor has decided only liscenced clubs or children under 10 years old are allowed to play football here (or more like white-looking European people). Players decided to ignore this clearly racist attempt to stop them coming to this popular sports area, and continued to play.
So the national police were instructed to come on to the pitch and ask the players to leave the field. But the players refused, and people continued to play football.
On Sunday 21st people come again to play football at the citedel. The city council has put a sign at the entrance to the site to reserve the use of the licensed clubs and students, following on from their attempt last Sunday to deny access. The Deputy Mayor Mignonet, comes again accompanied by his other favourite users, bailiffs, to claim people playing football will be charged with ‘occupation of the land’. The bailiff became very aggressive when we asked him why it is no problem for other young people of Calais who were playing on the same field.
When interviewed by the local paper, it seems the Town Hall is wanting to extend this to every public space in Calais. If you want to play football, says Emmanuel Agius, you must request permission from the town hall unless you are under 10 years. Agius says, “You can walk in public places, but for the rest, you have to ask permission from the mayor. We do not play ball in the park, at least not that way! If they ask permission, the mayor will decide. Me anyway, I do not give a favorable opinion to the No Border: These convicts are clearly my enemies.” 
And so the Town Hall shows its alliances once again ; neo-Nazis fascists are given permission to have a platform outside the Town Hall to openly incite racist hatred and violence, while at-the-same-time, ‘migrants’ are banned – with assistance of cops and baliffs – from playing football or ‘the rest’ in public places. There are elected officials who consider municipal property as their private property, and can choose to exclude those they dislike.
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!