Tagged: salam occupation
Mass evictions of over six-hundred people across Calais!
At 6am this morning CRS riot cops and PAF border police accompanied by gendarmes evicted three squats – on Rue Massena, Rue de Vic et Rue Auber – which were housing over 70 people for several months.
At the same time, the three police forces surrounded SALAM, a food distribution point, and violently evicted over 500 people who had moved to sleeping there since the eviction and destruction of three of their camps a month ago.
All exits of the gated concrete yard of SALAM were blocked by the police and tear gas was used to prevent people from escaping.
Over twenty women and ten children were sleeping at SALAM this morning when the cops came, and another hundred+ minors were swept up in the police operation during the day.
All of people’s means of shelter were destroyed.
‘Activists’, associations and journalists were quickly separated to stop people intervening or bearing witness, so the eviction could happen out of sight.
Over 300 people were rounded up and taken away by coaches to detention centres in Coquelles (in Calais), Lille–Lesquin and le Mesnil–Amelot (near Paris). It seems many transfers of detainees across France had already been made to open up space in detention centres nearer Calais in preparation for today’s eviction.
Minors (including fifty from Sudan and Eritrea) were taken to a camp in Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Dozens of people tried to stop the coaches taking people to the detention centres by blockading the road as the coaches were trying to exit out of SALAM.
People fear these evictions will be followed by mass deportations to areas within and outside of Europe.
Big operations like this are often accompanied by targeted deportations as a method to clear Calais of migrants and refugees and incite fear into wider communities; so that more people leave and to ‘deter’ more people from coming; like the charter flights arranged for mass deportations of Afghans in 2009, or the attempted deportations of Sudanese during large eviction sweeps in 2012 and 2013.
Last month over thirty people occupying SALAM spent weeks on hunger-strike in protest against the constant police harassment and
repeated evictions. Many people moved to sleeping outside at SALAM in response to a large police operation on 28th May that saw hundreds of people evicted across three make-shift camps built up around the French port.
The latest eviction was authorized by a court order in Lille only days ago on June 27th. The Town Hall, under the direction of right-wing Mayor Natasha Bouchart who has spent many years hell-bent on trying to rid migrants from Calais, took the opportunity to move quickly to destroy the new camp.
At least three people were arrested for ‘rebellion’ during the eviction; the president of SALAM, a member of the Auberge des Migrants and a person associated with No Borders.
TO EXIST IS TO RESIST
From the Sahara to the Mediterranean through to Calais, people who are not privileged with a legal way to pass have to risk their lives to cross borders. This year there has been at least eight known deaths as a result of the conditions of the Calais border.
PLEASE COME AND SUPPORT!
Lets be creative and in solidarity with the people in Calais, from wherever you are. If you cannot go to Calais, inform people, make flyers and banners, collect tents and send them with your friends to Calais!
…and continue the daily fight againt these racist controls wherever you find them!
Free movement for all – the border regimes must fall!
Some reports on the eviction:
Message from the hunger-strikers / message de la grève de la faim
Demande des grévistes de la faim du lieu de distribution alimentaire de Calais aux gouvernements Français et Anglais.
Tout d’abord, nous voulons dire que nous respectons toutes les associations et tous les collectifs qui nous ont aidé au cours de notre parcours. Nous nous adressons une fois de plus au gouvernement français et anglais comme nous l’avons déjà fait, et le répétons à nouveau.
Nous, les personnes en grève de la faim, nous voulons et nous demandons l’accès à un statut légal, à des papiers, qu’ils nous soient donnés par le gouvernement Français ou Anglais.
Nous espérons que ces gouvernements vont prendre en considération notre problème et le solutionner. Si le gouvernement Français ou Anglais ne prend pas en considération notre situation, nous, les grévistes de la faim, nous ne stopperons pas notre grève et certains d’entre nous pourraient s’immoler par le feu dans le centre de Calais.
Nous faisons la grève de la faim pour trouver une solution au fondement de notre problème, c’est pourquoi nous voulons que les gouvernements Français et Anglais nous donnent une réponse positive.
Vous pouvez nous joindre au : 07 53 93 21 53 (la personne qui répondra au téléphone parle anglais)
Request to the French and British authorities from the people on hunger strike in the place of food distribution of Calais
At first, we respect all associations and groups that helped us in our journey. Once again, we want to ask one more time the French and the English government to listen to us as we already did, and we repeat it again.
Us, the persons on hunger strike, we want and we ask to have access to a legal status, to documents, from the English or the French governments.
We hope that these governments will acknowledge our problem and find a solution for it. If the French or the British government do not take in consideration our problem, us, the people on hunger strike will not stop the strike and also some of us may set fire to themselves in the center of Calais.
We are on hunger strike to find a solution to the base of our problem, that’s why we want the french and british government to give us a positive answer.
You can join us if you call this number : 0033753932153 (the person who will answer speaks english)
News from the hunger strike / Nouvelles de la grève de la faim
if you’re looking for news from people doing hunger strike since now 5 days, there is something post every day on the blog https://passeursdhospitalites.wordpress.com , you can find there also some interviews and audio records
Some people of us will also try to give some dailynews, but in case of silence, just go to the other blog
Si vous/tu voulez/veux prendre des nouvelles des personnes qui sont en grève de la faim depuis maintenant 5 jours, vous/tu pouvez/peux consulter le blog https://passeursdhospitalites.wordpress.com , un article concernant cette action y est posté tous les jours. Vous/tu pouvez/peux aussi y trouver des interviews et enregistrements audio.
Des personnes d’entre nous vont essayer de donner des nouvelles le plus souvent possible, mais en cas de silence prolongé, référez/e vous/toi au blog cité plus haut.
(Le vouvoiement est réservé aux personnes qui lisent à plusieurs derrière l’écran en même temps, pas à celleux qui pensent le mériter)
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
Demonstration in the City
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.
Refugees of Calais: A New Communique
Since the authorities are giving no more signs of life and making no further proposals as to where the refugees can stay, other than the food distribution center, the refugees are rekindling the debate with the following communique and planning a demonstration.
We are the homeless migrants of Calais who have been occupying the food distribution center for the last week. All of the communities live there and have decided to unite to find a solution for our situation. We have tried to meet with authorities for this purpose, but they have broken their promises and have failed to respond to the demands we have made. We are homeless here and we want to be given the possibility of living dignified lives in safe places in Calais, where we can stay temporarily on our way to England.
Why is it that we are in this situation? Who can help us to find a solution? We were living in poverty and war in our countries and now, we find ourselves once more in even worse poverty. The authorities told us at the beginning that we had less than 48 hours to vacate these premisses, or they would evict us by force, although we came here to flee violence. Is this just? We want an end to the violence against migrants!
We came here for freedom and that is what we are trying to find… we want to reconstruct our lives and not to die here slowly. We want to be given to be given the chance to live where we want! We request as well a meeting with the British government, with whom we would like to discuss our situation. We want to be heard!
We are human beings, not animals!
THIS IS WHY WE ARE ORGANIZING A DEMONSTRATION SATURDAY, JUNE 7TH
Starting from Rue Lamy in front of the food distribution center at 2:00 pm
- 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.
The State Fumbles, Migrants Continue their Struggle
On Friday, the migrants occupying the food distribution center brought a list of demands (see here) that they had agreed upon to the prefect and the media. At first, the prefect maintained that the 48 hour period in which they were to vacate the premises had expired and refused to enter a dialogue. However, seeing that they were determined to stay, he set up a meeting for today [Saturday] with the departmental Director of Social Cohesion, who was soon joined by the sub-prefect. They proposed a second meeting to the refugees next Tuesday, on the condition that by then they move to another place and leave the food distribution center. It seems that a meeting is planned Monday morning at the Ministry of the Interior regarding the situation of the migrants in Calais; the meeting on Tuesday will likely depend on the decisions taken Monday. The proposal to continue the dialogue in another location was accompanied by a threat: if the migrants did not leave the food distribution center on their own over the weekend, they would be evicted by force, arrested and sent back to their countries of origin. Of course, this poses the question of where should they go. The authorities let slip the idea of moving to the old municipal camp site. The state now stands before the contradiction of demanding that people leave one place only to occupy another, without permission, somewhere which inevitably belongs to someone. The site of the old camp grounds belongs to the city of Calais.
At first, the migrants were divided as to whether they should leave the food distribution center or not. Several discussions took place during the afternoon and into the evening. Finally, to preserve the unity of the group, everyone agreed to follow the majority opinion and leave. Shortly after 8:00 pm, 150 people stood in the Rue de Moscou, their belongings on their shoulders, while the rest gathered their things together in the food distribution center. A few delegates from the different communities has gone ahead to the campsite to prepare for the move, when suddenly the police arrived and told them all to leave. The media was already there, following the whole process. Back to the food distribution center. The prefecture, confronted with its own mess, conceded to the migrants that they could stay until Tuesday, the day the negotiations will resume, without being bothered by the police.
Although the migrants had been divided on the question of leaving, they came together again in the face of adversity and celebrations broke out, with all the communities together, people singing, dancing and embracing. These people, whose languages and cultures have nothing to do with one another, from Ethopia to Afghanistan, from Romania to Syria, finding themselves in an improbable situation in Calais, have managed to make bonds of solidarity. If the evictions on Wednesday had gone as planned, these people would be hiding in bushes day after day, only to be driven out by the police at night, wandering from place to place, sleepless nights in their eyes and police beatings on their bodies. Instead, this time, they have chosen to affirm their dignity through struggle. And this dignity cannot be erased by police violence or the betrayals of the state.
In the days and weeks surrounding this episode, the administration has demonstrated all its incompetence and inconsistency to the media. For us, it has become normal that representatives of the state lie through their teeth. But for someone who comes from a culture based on respect for one’s word, it is shocking. And this Saturday’s inconsistencies will not facilitate the progress of the dialogue.
This Saturday afternoon, a demonstration also took place against the evictions and in support of the migrants’ struggle for acceptance. Several hundred people attended, spoke, listened to music and danced.
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.
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.”
The Occupation Continues
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!