Calais: freedom of movement – solidarity banner from La Chapelle, Paris.
On the 25th of January, 8 defendants were led out in front of the Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI) in Boulogne-Sur-Mer for occupying the ‘Spirit of Britain’ ferry after Saturday’s protest in Calais port. 6 of the defendants were people without papers from the Jungle, charged with a breach of the transport code which involved entering a ferry without permission. The residents of the Jungle that appeared in court today were from conflict zones across the world, there were people from Afghanistan, Sudan, and Syria. There were also 2 supporters in court, these two francophones were charged with the same breach of the transport code and also face an extra charge of facilitating entry. The maximum sentence for these offenses is 6 months in prison or a €3,500 fine.
The accelerated nature of the hearing was a point of contention. After the defence barristers were informed that all 8 cases would be heard together, they requested that the tribunal be delayed. The judges decided to put the hearing back until February 22nd. After the delays placed upon this case the 2 francophone supporters were released on bail, while the 6 people without papers were held in dentention. They have since been returned to Longeunesse penitentary near Saint-Omer to stew for a month in prision before the next hearing. Calais Migrant Solidarity will be organising prisoner support for those detained in the coming month.
The political nature of this prosecution is obvious. After a demonstration involving over two thousand people and supported by an entire pletheroa of organisations (including: ATMF, CISPM, CNT-RP, Collectif Paris 20ème Solidaire avec touTEs les migrantEs, CSP 75, Droits Devant !!!, EELV Paris, Intégration 21, La Horde, LDH, NPA, Sans-Voix Paris 18ème, SNPES-PJJ-FSU IDF, SUD Culture, UJFP, Union Locale Solidaires des 5e-13e arrondissements de Paris et d’Ivry, UNSP, London2Calais, and Nord-Pas-de-Calais Antifascists) these 8 people face prosecution. Similar to the continual disrubitions over the summer and the imprisonment and political prosecution of the three Channel Tunnel walkers for ‘disrupting a railway carriage’, even after one of the defendants, Abdul Rahman Haroun, was granted asylum. The French state is reproducing the tactics of its British counterpart by criminalising the actions of those fighting the border. As those without papers, detained by the state for willing to fight for their freedom of movement, sit in their cells tonight, those outside the prisons walls should not forget our friends inside!
Legend : Liberté de circulation- banderole de solidarité à La Chapelle, Paris.
Dans le 25 janvier, 8 inculpés passaient devant le Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI) de Boulogne-sur-Mer pour occupation du ferry “Spirit Of Britain” après la manifestation de samedi au port de Calais. 6 des inculpés étaient des sans-papiers de la Jungle, accusés d’infraction au code du transport qu’implique l’entrée dans un ferry sans permission. Les résidents de la jungle qui sont apparus à la cour aujourd’hui viennent de zones de conflits d’à travers le monde. Ils viennent d’Afghanistan, du Soudan, et de Syrie. 2 soutiens étaient également inculpés. Ces deux francophones ont été inculpés pour la même infraction au code du transport avec en prime une inculpation de “faciliter l’entrée”. La peine maximum pour ces faits est de 6 mois de prison ou une amende de 3500 euros.
La nature accélérée de l’audience a été un point contentieux. Après que les avocats ont été informés que les 8 cas seraient entendus ensemble, ils ont demandé au tribunal que le procès soit reporté. Les juges ont décidé un report d’audience pour le 22 février. Une fois le report obtenu sur cette affaire, les 2 soutiens français ont été libéré sous contrôle judiciaire avec interdiction de se rendre dans la région et les 6 sans papiers ont été envoyé en détention. Ils sont depuis au centre pénitencier de Longuenesse près de Saint Omer, à mariner pendant un mois en prison avant la prochaine audition. CMS organisera un soutien aux prisonniers pour les détenus du mois prochain.
La nature politique de ce procès est évidente. Après une manifestation impliquant plus de 2000 personnes et soutenue par une pléthore d’organisations ( incluant : ATMF, CISPM, CNT-RP, Collectif Paris 20ème Solidaire avec touTEs les migrantEs, CSP 75, Droits Devant !!!, EELV Paris, Intégration 21, La Horde, LDH, NPA, Sans-Voix Paris 18ème, SNPES-PJJ-FSU IDF, SUD Culture, UJFP, Union Locale Solidaires des 5e-13e arrondissements de Paris et d’Ivry, UNSP, London2Calais, et Nord-Pas-de-Calais Antifasciste), ces 8 personnes font face à un procès. Similaire au raffut continu depuis cet été et l’emprisonnement et le procès politique des 3 marcheurs du tunnel, inculpés de “perturbation de la structure ferrée”, alors même que l’un des inculpés, Abdul Rahman Haroun, a obtenu le droit d’asile en Angleterre par la suite. L’État français reproduit les tactiques de son homologue britannique en criminalisant les actions de ceux et celles qui combattent la frontière. Alors que ces sans-papiers, détenus par l’état pour avoir voulu combattre pour leur liberté de circulation, assis dans leurs cellules ce soir, ceux hors des murs n’oublieront pas leurs amis à l’intérieur !
Tomorrow, November 2nd, was announced a few weeks ago as the day on which construction should start on a new, closed container camp for 1500 people (see our previous post). However, as of today there are still many inhabitants living on the proposed construction site. It remains highly unclear what will happen to them if they don’t move voluntarily. While some have already relocated, a number of those living in the area reject the demand that they move and wish to protest against their eviction.
Below is a statement from one group of residents on their reasons for refusing to leave their homes:
- “Construction of the new camp will be right in the middle of the current camp but it is not a real solution for the problems of refugees.
- The capacity of the new camp is 1500 places which is not sufficient for the refugee population of Calais.
- The place the government has chosen for the construction is not viable to build a camp.
- Decisions taken by the French government are unclear to us.
- The French government forces refugees to evacuate the zone chosen for the construction of the new camp.
Therefore we, the refugees present in this area, refuse to submit to this ingrate politics of anti-solidarity. The day that the government forces us to leave for this construction, that will be the day of our protest.”
French translation of their statement: Continue reading
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.
The statement quoted below was given by the protesters today. They began their sit-in at 11 AM, and are refusing to enter the Jules Ferry center for any of its services. They do not want more humanitarian aid, but rather are demanding their rights to move where they wish and live in dignity where they are.
“There is a big protest happening here at the Salam distribution centre in
the jungle and the government have cut the satellite signal so there can be
People are blockading the government distribution centre because they no
longer want to live in worse conditions than those they left behind. It’s
not enough to receive one badly cooked meal per day. People seeking asylum in
France are being given nothing and forced to live in the jungle. People
have a right to dignity and many people are badly injured and left with no
medical provisions to die in the jungle. La Vie Active who run the Salam
centre profit from justifying people’s prolonged stay in the jungle. Today
the demonstration will continue at the gates of the centre and everyone
informed why and asked not to go inside. If people want to go in they can
and will not be subject to abuse. It is not good enough that racism exists
in the camp and today we are one voice, one hand to stop the injustice of
People of the jungle are not treated as human beings but numbers in system.
We are not allowed the right to protest in the town but hidden away, they
try to silence us. We will not accept this system and we will provide our
own solution. The European governments made this problem and it is their
responsibility to solve it in a way that gives us a better life. We did not
risk our lives to suffer this inhumanity. We must stand together, this
protest is the start and we will continue until our situation is resolved.
We want to remain peaceful even when the police use violence against us.”