Attacks in Calais against migrants have increased massively in the past few months in both severity and frequency. We have seen many migrants beaten by police causing broken legs, arms and facial injuries. We have also heard many reports of police chasing migrants into busy motorways, which have been the cause of deaths over the last few months. Last week an Eritrean man was hit by a car whilst being chased by police, luckily he survived but others didn’t.
On Friday 19th December I was witnessed a similar attack by police forcing people to run in front of traffic. Several Eritrean men were sitting on a dividing barrier along the motorway near Leader Price waiting for truck traffic to back up on the road.
A Peugeot Police Nationale car with three officers inside pulled up on the other side of the road behind the sitting men. They opened the doors and sat with their legs out of the car, hands on batons ready to charge at the men sitting on the barrier. At that moment the road was clear, with a group of trucks approaching at about 50 – 60 mph. The police rushed at the men right before the truck was going to pass, running at them with their batons out and forcing the migrants to flee in front of the moving truck.
The truck driver repeatedly hit his horn but made no attempts to slow down, seemingly just annoyed by the migrants for ‘being in his way.’ The men narrowly passed before the truck with the last man less than half a meter from being run down.
After the attack I saw the three police laughing and mocking the migrants, clearly taking a lot of pleasure in causing pain and suffering.
It is obvious to me after witnessing this attack by the police that it was fully their intention to cause serious injury or death to the migrants. The police in Calais are actively creating situations in which deaths of migrants is a likely outcome.
Other witnesses have told of similar incidents, including in the death of an unknown man on 1st December 2014 and police pushing migrants into the cold winter water whilst beating them with batons.
Racism in the police is extremely apparent and the feeling of being untouchable seems to be increasing which in turns increases their confidence to attack migrants more and more brutally.
The police are currently operating without any fear of justice. They attacks are carried out away from the eyes of the local Calais population, against undocumented and unaccounted migrants. No Border activists have been making attempts to film police during attacks but so far have been arrested and had their cameras destroyed with high voltage electricity at the police station.
Les attaques contre les migrants à Calais ont augmenté massivement au cours des derniers mois à la fois en ce qui concerne gravité et la fréquence. Nous avons vu de nombreux migrants se faire battre par la police causant des fractures importantes au niveaux des bras et des jambes ainsi que des blessures au visage. Nous avons aussi beaucoup entendu parlé de la police chassant migrants, les forçant à s’échapper en traversant l’autoroute. Ce type d’attaque a été la cause de décès au cours des derniers mois. La semaine dernière, un homme a été érythréen heurté par une voiture tout en étant pourchassé par la police, il a heureusement survécu, mais d’autres ne ont pas eu cette chance.
Le vendredi 19 Décembre j’ai été témoin d’une attaque similaire par la police forçant les gens à courir devant dans le trafic. Plusieurs hommes érythréens étaient assis sur une barrière de séparation le long de l’autoroute près de Leader Price attentant d’avoir la voie libre pour traverser sans danger. Une voiture Peugeot Police Nationale avec trois officiers se sont arrêtés tous près des hommes Erythréen assis de l’autre côté de la route. Ils ont ouvert les portes et se sont assis avec les jambes hors de la voiture, les mains sur matraques, prêt à charger les hommes assis sur la barrière. A ce moment, la route était clair, suivi par un un groupe de camions approchant à environ 50 à 60 mph. La police à chargé sur les hommes juste avant que le camion passe, courant leur matraques à la main et forçant les migrants à fuir devant le camion roulant à toute allure.
Le conducteur du camion a frappé à plusieurs reprises son klaxon, mais n’a fait aucune tentative pour ralentir, apparemment juste agacé par les migrants «d’être sur son chemin». Les hommes ont passé de justesse avant que le camion passe. Le dernier homme à passé à moins d’un demi-mètre de se faire écraser.
Après l’attaque, je ai vu les trois policiers en riant et se moquant des migrants, en prenant manifestement beaucoup de plaisir à causer de la douleur et de la souffrance.
Il est évident pour moi après avoir assisté à cette attaque de la par de la police qu’il était pleinement leur intention de causer des blessures graves ou même la mort des migrants. La police à Calais créent activement des situations dans lesquelles la mort des migrants est un résultat probable.
D’autres témoins ont partagé que des incidents similaires, y compris la mort d’un homme inconnu le 1er Décembre 2014 et la police poussant migrants dans l’eau froide d’hiver tout en les frappant avec des matraques.
Le racisme dans la police est extrêmement apparent et le sentiment d’être intouchable semble être en augmentation qui à son tour augmente leur confiance pour attaquer les migrants de plus en plus brutalement.
Les policiers agissent actuellement sans aucune crainte de la justice. Leurs attaques sont menées loin des yeux de la population locale Calais, contre les migrants sans papiers et portées disparues. Des militants No Border ont fait des tentatives pour filmer la police au cours d’attaques mais jusqu’ici ils ont été arrêtés et leurs caméras a été détruites avec l’électricité à haute tension aux poste de police.
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.
Today has seen an eviction decision concerning Fort Galloo by the court, and the return of fascist scumbags in town.
After a long juridicial procedure the judge has made a final decision on the squat cannot remain. As of yet there is no date for eviction set by the prefecture (lazy shitheads). Meanwhile no alternative provision for the migrants has been offered, the women’s shelter is already over capacity, and promise of a daycenter is nothing but an empty gesture.
As if this wasn’t enough we had to suffer Marine le Pig coming with her fascist cronies to show their faces in order to spread their politics of hate and to benefit from the frustrations in Calais. Whilst about 100 fash turned out to see the Queen of the Right, about 30 anti-fascists came out to disrupt Marine’s airtime on the TV/radio. As usual, the police protected the fascists which resulted in 1 anti-fa being punched in the stomach by a high ranking police officer and another had their finger broken by a cop.
At this time of humanitarian crisis which calls for political innovation we see nothing but the same tired reactionary, racist politics being facilitated by the police. In the end the only “solutions” that have materialised are 100 extra cops and a NATO security fence all in the name of securing the border for the UK. With over 2,000 migrants in Calais and winter on its way, perhaps now is the time to try opening the borders…?
On September 5 a few hundred migrants demonstrated joyously in the streets of Calais to demand that they be able to cross to England and that police violence stop. They were also demonstrating against racism, for liberty and for respect for human rights.
On September 7, over 200 people, sympathisers of ‘sauvons calais’, held a demonstration with the mayor’s blessings on the square before the town hall. Speeches were given by various members of the ultra extreme right, there were fascists banners and fascist salutes in the assembly. An investigation will be opened. A counter demonstration was organized by the antifa in the region to protest against the fascist gathering. On the same day, the citizens wanted to organize a festive footbal match in the old city, the field in the old city where the migrants have played for 2 years already was declared forbidden by the town hall on that occasion. The tournament took place anyway on an appropriated field and it finished beautifully with a rap battle. Continuing on the same path since then, the town hall continues to forbid migrants from playing football on ‘it’s’ field, and sends officers accompanied by guard dogs to prevent people from occupying the field every Sunday. They have even shown an interest in filing a complaint against ‘illicit occupation’.
They continue to arrive in dozens to Calais and nearby… There are about 1500 in Calais. Some of them are staying at Tioxide, a squatted field, and in the surrounding dunes. The others are in squats or other fields around Calais. 300 are in ‘Fort Galloo’ , an enormous squat opened during the demonstration on July 10. Cohabitation is problematic due to stress, repression, regular menacing from the Calais fascists and exhaustion. The enforcement judge, the last judge to take a decision on the squat, after an initial decision to evict in August, authorized scientific experts to inquire and will reconvene on the 24 and 25 of September to give a final decision on October 17
Crossing and Repression
For several weeks the migrants have gathered en masse along the motorway at the entry to the port to try to clime onto lorries that are in traffic. They regularly try their luck entering the port en masse. A new CRS company has been called to try to stop them from crossing, and we’ve regularly heard stories of violence (gassing the inside of the trucks, beatings) and seen injuries among the migrants. There are countless instances of intimidation, police agression, injuries at the port, around the jungles and in the city.
The Extreme Right
Several activists have been subject to verbal and/or physical agression by individual fascists during the past weeks. Those noxious individuals are very present and don’t hesitate to provoke the humanitarians, the migrants or sympathizers with nazi salutes. At the beginning of the month a 15 year old girl was assaulted by fascists and given death threats. On 19/09 some individuals threw molotov cocktails at a squat which housed primarily Egyptians with children.Vigilance in the face of these provocations adds a new stress that we don’t really need.
The Game FR/UK
A new UK-Franco Joint Declaration has been made. They decided together to create a ‘common fund in the framework of an agreement on the struggle against clandestine immigration at the Calais port’ which ‘would allow to wind down the crisis that has plagued the migration question in Calais for several years’ : Translation : Re-inforce the borders, increase repression, coordinate with third countries to facilitate expulsions… plus a tiny bit of humanity so as not to lose face !
The situation is become equally difficult to manage in Calais for the activists, the militants, the humanitarians, the migrants and… the CRS !
Calais is the mirror of what happens at all the borders to Europe : Mellila, Lampedusa, Greece, Tunisia, Bulgaria…….
Thousands of people try to reach Europe, a place of peace and serenity for them. Even if the hospitality in Europe and the UK is problematic, they know that they won’t die of hunger there and they won’t be hit by bombs. And Europe doesn’t see where the problem is and they ban crossing while constructing a fortress, an army, walls, continuing to send arms to rebels or non rebels, crying danger about one or another ‘terrorist’ group and continuing to empty the African soil of all of its riches.
On the Programme in the Following Weeks :
Increased difficulties for migrants in crossing, growing tensions everywhere, evictions of places of living, deportations en masse to countries of transit or departure…… and new arrivals of migrants from Italy, Choucha, Spain, Greece….
Already on 23/09/2014 in Paris: a hundred people, mostly Sudanese and Eritrean, were stopped in a raid at pont de la Chapelle at 6 :30 and taken to the police station.
The Work on Our Plates:
Today there are 4 of us on the ground in Calais, that doesn’t help us much to meet the high challenges that are presented to us. There is also a lot of work to do surrounding spreading information to different communities on the repressive decisions that have been taken, on constructive tools on the growing risks of deportation, for example : France successfully deported a Sudanese person to Sudan on September 17 and has been reserving flights to Khartoum since the start of the summer.
There is quite a lot of police violence at the moment, especially during the attempt of crossing and around Tioxyde (which is near to the port). A lot of people have been gazed inside the trucks, beaten, and some have broken body parts. It’s quite hard to challenge this violence as it is happening in different areas and at anytime. People have made collective crossing attempts to go inside the port, and this have been used to legitimate this increase of police violence.
On Friday 5th September a few hundred people came together in Place d’Armes in a demonstration to demand better living conditions and an end to police violence.
One person from Sudan with a broken leg and walking on crutches says “its police who attacked me, its like this always on trains, in the street or at the border”. Several more people in the demonstration had bruised or broken arms or legs from being attacked and assaulted by police.
In the last weeks many of us had to face a lot of police violence. Some of us got broken hands and others broken legs and even some got hurt their heads. You can see that with your own eyes and you can hear of them how it happened.
In the next days the fascists will come to Calais to meet and demonstrate here. There is no shelter for us to be secure and to hide from them. We can not trust the police to protect us from them as we experienced already so much violence from them.
Migration is not a crime and each and everyone of us has reasons why we had to leave our countries and our families and why we are here now.
Europe is always talking about Human Rights and freedom but we can not find this here.
This is why we want to demonstrate and bring our demands on the streets.
Therefore we are happy to invite you to our demonstration on friday, the 5th of September 2014, starting at 3 p.m. at Quai de la Moselle, 62100 Calais, the food distribution place.
The migrant communities in Calais.
Ces dernières semaines, beaucoup d’entre nous on fait face à de nombreuses violences policières. Certains d’entre nous ont eu mains et jambes cassés, et d’autres ont été blessés à la tête. Ces violences sont visibles et ceux les ayant subis le racontent.
Dans les jours à venir les fascistes vont venir à Calais et faire un rassemblement. Nous n’avons pas d’abris pour être en sécurité et se cacher. Nous ne pouvons pas croire que la police nous protégera d’eux puisque nous subissons déjà beaucoup de violence de leur part.
La migration n’est pas un crime, chacun et chacune d’entre nous a des raisons de quitter son pays ou sa famille.
L’Europe parle toujours de droits humains et de liberté, mais ce n’est pas ce que nous trouvons ici.
Et c’est la raison pour laquelle nous manifestons et portons nos revendications dans la rue.
Nous sommes heureux de vous inviter à notre manifestation ce vendredi 5 septembre 2014, 15h, Quai de la Moselle, 62100 Calais, le lieu de distribution des repas.
Les communautés de migrants de 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!
Tomorrow, the occupation of SALAM by the inhabitants of the three camps evicted yesterday will enter its fourth day. They arrived early Tuesday morning, in anticipation of the destruction of their homes, at the food distribution center, which is normally closed except for an evening meal (and lunch on the weekend). They were looking for a safer space to stay, protected from the wind, the rain and the police, but also for a place to take a stand, to demand access to basic services and political consideration from the government, locally and across Europe.
Over the course of the day Wednesday, as bulldozers razed the grounds where more than 600 people had found shelter, people continued to join the occupation. Members of all the communities represented in Calais came together to plan a response to the brutality of the prefect’s orders and the uncertainty of their own situation. They decided to stay in SALAM, demanding that the prefect make an offer for their future or at least tell them where, in the end, he thought they would go now. Instead, he sent the police.
Shortly before 10:00 am, the gendarmerie cut through the fence and attempted to enter the grounds by force. Barricades were quickly assembled and those who managed to break through were forced to retreat. Confused and seemingly without any plan for how to proceed, they stood mutely on the Rue de Moscou, waiting orders.Meanwhile Serge Szarsynski, the director of the Direction départementale de la cohésion sociale, had been charged with the difficult task of convincing everyone to get on a bus surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of cops and go – somewhere. Where, he could not say (at first, he claimed Sécours Catholique, a rumor they vigorously denied), but he promised it would be very nice there and everyone would be happy and clean. Few people were impressed. The charitable mask stretched over this operation (treatment of disease, hygienic concerns, etc.) was beginning to tear and the bared teeth of racism were visible beneath.
Soon, he was forced to start negotiations with representatives of the occupiers. At first he demanded they leave SALAM before he would speak with them, threatening them with a police charge, but the occupiers resolved to stay until concessions were made. Szarsynski backed down and began shuttling back and forth between the occupiers and the prefect. In the end, he promised they would be allowed to remain in SALAM until Friday, and asked that they leave during the next day in small groups to find somewhere out of the way. He did not know or care where they might go, as long as no one would have to see them, but he promised they would not be harassed on their way.
Just like the government’s scare tactic of scabies, Szarsynski’s story began to fall apart very quickly. Several Afghans who accepted the offer of a shower and blanket found themselves 150 km outside of Calais, spending the night in a SAMU social (homeless shelter) – hardly the hotel room they had been promised. That night in the city, some men caught by the police were beaten severely. The message was clear: when the cameras are gone, one way or another, we will make you disappear.
As the occupiers discussed that night and into the following day, many voices demanded something more: it’s not enough just to be ignored and moved out of the public eye, where the police can attack, as they always have, with impunity. “We want rights,” one man said. “We want education. We put our lives on hold to come here, to flee from war and persecution, but we did not come here to live in tents and jungles. We want to start our lives again. We are not animals. Here, I eat once a day and I shower once a week. I am a human being.”
At the end of a long discussion and debate, involving several hundred people and up to six languages, they decided to act “as one hand,” together, finding strength in solidarity. They will remain in SALAM tomorrow morning and stay for as long as they can, demanding a solution, both to their immediate problems and to the larger political situation which created them. They demand a new location in the city of Calais, where they can live together, whether they decide to stay in Calais or continue their journey to England or elsewhere. They demand the creation of sanitary facilities, showers, toilets and laundry. They call for a meeting with the Prefect to address their demands and for a response from the politicians of Europe, who have trapped them here in Calais, and now expect them to disappear.
They also ask for the continued support of the people and associations of Calais and for solidarity across Europe and the world. They ask for you to come and help, to contribute food and infrastructure, to stand at their sides when the police arrive and to fight the border here and everywhere!