(en français plus bas)
UPDATE: The deceased body of an Iraqi man in his 40s was found wearing improvised flippers and flotation device at a wind farm off the coast of Zeebrugge (1,2). It is believed he is the same man for which this rescue attempt last week was launched.
A “swimmer” that a French judiciary source stated was “probably a migrant” is declared missing at sea in the Channel following the end of a four hour search on Sunday, August 18th. A Belgian sailor claims to have spotted the man in the water twelve miles N/NW of Dunkirk wearing an improvised lifebelt made out of empty plastic bottles, and improvised flippers. He claims to have made several unsuccessful rescue attempts before deciding to sail in to the port of Dunkirk to notify authorities. It is not clear why he did not immediately call or radio for help.
According to the French Coast Guard, by the time the rescue operation began it was 20:20, more than five hours since the swimmer had been spotted by the sailor. French and Belgian assets were deployed but the search was called off at 00:30. The man has probably lost his life in this desperate attempt to reach the UK mainland.
This tragic event happened not even two weeks after the disappearance of a young Iranian woman, who was crossing the Channel in a dinghy. Two other people who fell in to the water with her were rescued. Before that, on July 16th, a man was rescued by the French three miles off the coast of Calais with a flotation device and wearing flippers trying to swim to the UK.
If confirmed, these two people will be the first to lose their lives attempting to reach England since last Winter when increased security at Calais’ ferry and train terminals pushed people into the water to make their journeys. Unfortunately, they were not the first ever. In 2015, the bodies of Mouaz al-Balkhi and were found on a beach in Norway and the Netherlands after their attempts to swim across the Channel.
Especially pig-headed Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has cynically instrumentalised the woman’s disappearance from the 10th to try and justify increased border militarisation and security infrastructure spending. But with the narrowest portion of the Dover Straits heavily surveilled and the Gendarmes patrolling the beaches people will just be forced to attempt longer and more dangerous crossings with and without boats. We are today reminded of the horrible consequences these border policies have.
France and the UK continue to refuse responsibility for their murderous border politics. Although they rely on the sea to do their dirty work, it is the states and politicians who are accountable for these deaths, missing people, and all the others.
Borders kill. Open the borders!
“We didn’t come here to die”
MAJ 26.08.19: Le corps d’un homme irakien d’une quarantaine d’année, portant des palmes et une bouée de fortune, a été retrouvé dans un parc éolien au large de Zeebrugge, Belgique (en anglais ici et là). Il s’agit vraisemblablement de l’homme qui n’a pu être sauvé la semaine dernière.
Un « nageur », « probablement » un migrant selon une source judiciaire française, a été déclaré disparu en mer de la Manche ce dimanche 18 août après quatre heures de recherches. Un marin belge a repéré l’homme en détresse à une vingtaine de kilomètres nord/nord ouest au large de Dunkerque, équipé d’une bouée faite de bouteilles en pastique vides ainsi que de palmes de fortune. Il déclare avoir tenté plusieurs fois de lui porter secours, sans succès, avant de faire route jusqu’au port de Dunkerque, où il a donné l’alerte aux autorités. Les raisons pour lesquelles il n’a pas immédiatement appelé ou utilisé sa radio pour avertir les secours n’ont pas, à notre connaissance, été éclaircies.
Selon la préfecture maritime, l’opération de sauvetage a été mise en place à partir de 20h20, dès le lancement de l’alerte par le marin, soit plus de cinq heures après qu’il ait repéré le nageur. Les équipements français et belges sont déployés, mais les opérations de recherche sont arrêtées à 00h30. L’homme a probablement perdu la vie dans sa tentative désespérée d’atteindre le Royaume Uni.
Cet événement tragique survient à peine deux semaines après la disparition d’une jeune femme iranienne qui a tenté la traversée de la Manche sur une embarcation de fortune. Deux autres personnes tombées à l’eau avec elle ont pu être secourues. Auparavant, le 16 juillet, un homme a été récupéré par les garde-côtes français à cinq kilomètres au large de Calais, équipé d’une bouée et de palmes, voulant gagner l’Angleterre à la nage.
Si leurs décès viennent à être confirmés, ces deux personnes seront les deux premières connues à perdre la vie dans l’eau en tentant de rejoindre l’Angleterre depuis l’hiver dernier, quand la sécurisation toujours plus accrue des terminaux ferry et ferroviaires ont poussé de plus en plus de gens à envisager la traversée par la mer. Malheureusement, iels n’étaient pas les premier·e·s. En 2015, les corps de Mouaz al-Balkhi et de Shadi Omar Kataf’, Syriens, ont été retrouvés sur les côtes norvégiennes et hollandaises, longtemps après leur tentative désespérée de franchir la mer à la nage (en anglais ici).
Charlie Elphicke, député de Douvres particulièrement obtus, a cyniquement instrumentalisé la disparition de la jeune femme, dès le 10 août, pour légitimer la militarisation croissante de la frontière et les dépenses conséquentes en équipements de sécurité. Mais intensifier toujours plus la surveillance et les patrouilles de gendarmes sur la section la plus étroite de la Manche ne fera qu’obliger les personnes à tenter des traversées plus longues et plus dangereuses, avec ou sans bateau. Aujourd’hui est un rappel des conséquences tragiques qu’ont ces politiques frontalières.
La France et le Royaume Uni refusent toujours d’assumer leurs responsabilités dans ces politiques frontalières meurtrières. Bien qu’ils comptent sur la mer pour faire le sale boulot, ce sont bien les États et les politiciens qui sont responsables de ces morts et ces disparitions en mer, mais aussi de toutes les autres.
Les frontières tuent. Ouvrons les !
This is taken direct from the blog Indyrikki and is about what happened in London at the weekend…
In 2005, the Anarchist Bookfair, held that year in Holloway Road, ended in a practical session of massive policing. The local Coronet pub, on police advice, suddenly refused to serve alcohol, and as hundreds of anarchists spilled out onto the dual carriageway, they were met with riot police geared up for local football matches. The ensuing clashes led to several arrests and injuries, although most if not all were acquitted of serious offences months down the line.
A full decade on, the bookfair today was held at the Granary Building occupied by the University of the Arts London, Central Saint Martins. While on the one hand it’s an excellent space for the bookfair, with a large and airy open area for stalls, and lots of classrooms and lecture theatres for group events, on the other it is surrounded by lots of pseudo-public space, corporatised, controlled, and covered by private regulations rather than public rights – another example of the accelerating privatisation of public space in cities across the world.
Still, this year’s event was well attended, with packed lectures and workshops and a buzzing hall of stalls.
In solidarity with actions today in both Paris and Budapest, Calais Migrant Solidarity called a “No Borders” action to take place at the Eurostar terminal in nearby St Pancras station.
So, ten years on from the Holloway Road kerfuffle, clashes seemed likely again, as huge numbers of police waited at St Pancras and a group of a couple of hundred activists, intent on reaching the Eurostar, set off along private roads shortly after 6pm.
At one of the entrances to the station, they were met by a line of police, and with sheer weight of numbers, first one, and then dozens more, squeezed their way into the station before police reinforcements regained control, after deploying metal batons.
Suddenly, the group inside the station turned back to help their comrades, and at that point things got quite messy. Activists were grabbed and pushed back through the lines on to the pavement, with some injuries and a few arrests. Police began to kit themselves in full riot gear, and they also grabbed a large red banner and threw it aside.
All the while, train travellers and other members of the public watched through locked entrances.
Deeper inside the station, police were picking out people hanging around near the Eurostar entrance, and an entirely peaceful woman was forcibly removed, dragged much of the way on her knees, before police finally picked her up and carried her. Police claimed she was being removed to prevent a breach of the peace.
Despite the massive police operation, a group of around 30 women suddenly appeared in the concourse, chanting “No human is illegal” and “No borders”, and carrying large banners.
They set up right in front of the access point to the Eurostar departure lounge, and handed out leaflets while continuing their protest. Police Liaison Officers moved among them, and more than a dozen police soon arrived in full riot gear, but thankfully they thought better than to interfere, and the protest continued for a few more minutes before the group (who had other appointments) packed up and left.
This dignified and peaceful action was organised by ‘Global Women’s Strike’ (globalwomenstrike.net), and ‘All African Women’s Group’.
A small peaceful group of around a dozen protesters entered King’s Cross Station concourse, with a banner that said “people want to bring down the borders”.
They were confronted by several dozen police, many in riot gear, and then kettled for about an hour.
Police used Railway Bye-Laws – Sect 6 (8) – (no person shall molest or wilfully interfere with the comfort or convenience of any person on the railway), & Sect 23 – (anyone suspected of breach must give name and address), – to process, photograph and identify each protester before escorting them from the station with a 24 hour ban. A few were arrested during this time too.
Interestingly, there was an attempt before this process, for a station representative to make an announcement on a megaphone, but it wouldn’t work and no announcement was made – my feeling was that the announcement was meant to be part of a legal process and so it might be pertinent that it was never made.
One of the causes being championed by migrant solidarity groups is for the release of Abdul Rahman Haroun, a Sudanese man, who after walking through the Eurotunnel is being prosecuted under an obscure 1861 ‘Malicious Damages Act’ and has spent months in jail. Earlier this month, the same legislation was used to arrest two Iranian men in Folkestone after they had completed the 31-mile walk. Calais Migrant Solidarity are calling for the release from prison of the ‘Channel Tunnel 3’.
During the action in King’s Cross, the Harry Potter Hogwart’s platform was closed by police – surely a wilful interference with the convenience of excited Potter fans?
Paris – police evict migrant shelter the night before demonstration
In Paris, there were premptive raids by the security services at a school offering shelter to refugees and migrants. Some activists and French associations helped the police facilitate their midnight raid. Telling people that they would recieve better accommodation if they cooperated with the police.
On the demonstration itself, on the 24th there were 700/800 people. The police attacked because they were worried people would use the demonstration to occupy a new camp. Subsequently there were two arrests and two people were hospitalized.