Protest Against Destruction of Calais 'Jungles'

Tagged as: migration repression social_struggles solidarity
Neighbourhoods: knightsbridge

Following a call from No Borders groups in London and Brighton a group of people demonstrated outside London's French Embassy on Monday 20th to protest the repression and planned mass deportations of migrants living around Calais, France. See full article for pics and background information. More reports 1 and 2.

More Info: Calais Migrant Solidarity | Calais No Border Camp June 2009 | Video: After Sangatte, Europe's Untold Refugee Crisis.

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At around 12:30 the first banner appears at the crossing outside the French Embassy in Knightsbridge ...

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... and soon people start to gather in front of the Embassy.

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A mobile sound system is used to make sure people's speeches are heard by those inside the Embassy ...

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... and sure they are!

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Meanwhile others are giving out leaflets to the passers by explaining the situation of migrants in Calais.

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People carrying one of the banners eventually approach the Embassy's main entrance ...

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... more people quickly joins them, and so the cops take positions at the Embassy's steps

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A protestor is escorted to the main entrance to have a chat with someone from the Embassy ...

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... and eventually someone claiming to be a deputy attaché appears and engages in a short discussion with the protestor.

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After almost 2 hours of protesting outside the designated pen police starts to move people away ...

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... although another banner appears making the final stand outside the pen for a while longer, and then people disperse.

Extract from 'Calais Witnesses' statement:

According to humanitarian groups in Calais, up to 2000 individuals in the Calais region of northern France are under imminent threat of gross violations of human rights because of their status as migrants. Following the announcement on 6th July, 2009 of a joint Anglo-French agreement for £15 million to strengthen the French UK border, humanitarian groups in France have been notified that an official date, Monday 20th July, 2009, has been set by French authorities to clear and destroy the makeshift camps that migrants have been forced to live in in already appalling conditions.

This will fundamentally affect these people's right to safety and will undoubtedly traumatize them and destroy the few possessions that they have. Official plans for people once their dwellings have been destroyed are still unclear, but the Calais-based humanitarian organization Association Salam has informed that proceedings have begun by the French government as part of the Franco-British Agreement to charter mass deportation flights to Kabul and Iraq.

While UK immigration Minister Phil Woolas boasts of a "ring of steel that protects Britain" there are many individuals in Calais who are simply seeking safety and are trapped by a European immigration policy that is denying basic human rights. Without urgent intervention there is very real threat of mass deportations of asylum seekers back to countries of origin from which they have fled and where they could face torture, imprisonment and in some cases death.

Read full statement.

Additions

Text of the leaflet given to passers by during the protest

Stop Destruction of Calais Migrant Camps and Mass Deportations.

The Northern coast of France is the temporary 'home' to upwards of 1,500 migrants from many of the world's war zones who are seeking what any reasonable human being desires, a better life for themselves in the UK. They live in degrading conditions that would put a Third World slum to shame. They have been abandoned by the French government and are routinely arrested and brutalised by French police. Only a handful of humanitarian organisations, barely tolerated by French officialdom, offer them any help with occasional and hand-me-down clothes, all the time risking prosecution under French law.

The French government are noww seeking a final solution to the 'problem' of the Calais migrants. They have already bulldozed a number of 'Jungles', the name used by all for the migrants' camps, up the coast from Calais and have evicted and demolished migrant squats. Now informaton from the UNHCR in Calais indicates that the riot police and bulldozers will move in on Tuesday 21st July to take on the main Pashtum 'Jungle' in Calais. This is understood to be followed by a mass deportation back to Afghanistan on the 24th, in contravention of Rule 39 (Preventing harm to refugees and migrants in extradition and expulsion cases) of the Rules of Procedure of the ECHR and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Risk of degrading and inhuman treatment), as well as breaching Community law under the asylum procedures directive (Council directive 2005/85/EC of 1/12/2005 on minimum standards on procedures in members states for granting and withdrawing refugee status) and the qualifications directive (Council directive 24/83/EC of 29/4/2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise in need of international protection and the content of the protection granted).

Protest to:

French Ambassador, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne Tel: 0207 073 1000

French Consulate in London: Tel 0207 073 1200 of Fax 0207 073 1201

Phil Woolas, UK Immigration Minister: Tel 0161 624 4248 / Email woolasp@parliament.uk

French Interior Ministry: Tel 00 331 40 07 60 60

Update from Calais

* Tuesday July 2009 (9:20 am)

The night passed with activists hanging around with migrants who were more visibly shaken than usual by the deportation threats. Activists patrolled other jungles in cars in an attempt to monitor the police. It has been a night of people arriving from Netherlands, Belgium, UK and France to show solidarity withy migrants in Calais. Early in the morning CRS riot police shot tear gas into the Pastun jungle and beat up and removed five people. Unfortunately this is nothing new in Calais these days

Some UK and Dutch press arrived. The morning saw Eritrean and Iranian migrants being stopped and detained on the streets of Calais; again nothing new. Whether 48 hours detention or deportation for Iranians we don’t know. The racism of police actions was visible in their removal of black sans papiers while white activists refusing to show ID were let go as we watched our friends being taken away
giving us the thumbs up from the windows of the unmarked police van. We condemn these acts of terror. As the repression continues the links between migrant activists and resident activists grow.

We are tired and angry at what we see and learn, but for the migrants and activists dealing with this situation this is a daily test on the nerves. Maybe this ‘rehearsal’ by the police is to test our limits. But it only seems to strengthen peoples resolve as more people arrive to support jungles

Not loads of us but a steady stream to maintain solidarity. Come to Calais

Latest news here:

http://www.calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com

Other update information

Information coming from a migrant in the Jungle with a contact in Dover IRC indicates that there is a deportation flight from the UK to Kabul today and that there is a joint UK-France flight as previously suspected on Friday going to Kabul via Lille. There has so far been no independent confirmation from UK sources on either flights.

21 JULY: Calais migrants resist eviction and deportation!

21 JULY: Calais migrants resist eviction and deportation!

Migrants on the British border successfully resisted eviction and forced deportation yesterday. A handful of police raids were resisted by patrols of legal observers accompanied by journalists and cameramen, though at least 4 Afghans were taken by snatch squads.

Many migrants left their homes in Calais for Belgium or further afield once a report was leaked that French police were planning an 'ethnic cleansing' of the Calais area. These measures are part of an 'administrative agreement' between Gordon Brown and Nicholas Sarkozy discussed (with immigration ministers Besson and Woolas in tow) in Evian, France on the 7th July prior to the G8.

However, the Mayor of Calais has announced a likely clearing of the jungle sometime in October. Eric Besson, the immigration minister has already promised to "faire disparaitre" or "disappear" unwanted migrants and they still remain under constant threat of violence, detention and deportation.

Activists intend to stay on the ground in Calais as long as possible to offer medical and legal assistance. They intend to work with migrants to build treehouses, solar showers and other exciting bits and pieces. If you want to come to Calais and help, or raise awareness of these issues in your local area please get in contact!

Calais - NO charter flight Friday, but raids on migrants intensified

Calais update

Comment by Calais Witnesses on July 23, 2009 7:14 pm

It seems certain now the charter is NOT leaving tomorrow (Fri 24) after SALAM spoke to CIMADE, however it may be soon so there is no need to relax.

Raids on the jungles and squats have intensified: last night a Sudanese squat was raided 4 times, with tear gas and two people were taken; the Pashtun jungle was also raided in the early hours in the morning, nobody was taken but the police took pictures and counted all the migrants they found there – mostly minors as many of the adults who are more at risk of being deported have been hiding elsewhere; similarily there have been raids on Eritrean and Somali squats.

People on the ground are needed more than ever.

Many local people have gone to the jungle today after an appeal made by activists during a concert.

More updates later

If you are coming to Calais read here:
http://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/if-you-are-coming-to-calais/

If you are coming to Calais to show solidarity and want information call
0033 668 595765 (english) or 0033 630 225982 (french and spanish)

Write up of conversations with migrants in Calais last week

This last week in Calais, with some migrants who spoke good English, we were able to have some decent conversations about the No Borders camp, and in particular why people want to come to England.

A lot of the responses were along the lines of people had learnt English, to come to England, not French, and they wanted to see that through. Also people said there are more migrant communities in England, whereas in France people felt it was a more racist (they hadn’t experienced England yet) and assimilationist country. ie in France you had to become French, in England you could be what you wanted. And there is more opportunity to moonshine in UK. (I guess there are the colonial connections too – you don’t get many migrants from Algeria or French-speaking West Africa wanting to settle in the UK)

When asked about the camp, chatting with a group of Iranians and Kurds still living at the No Borders camp site, they said they were happy with the camp, they appreciated the showers, the food and the police relatively left them alone during the camp, though it was difficult to get into the camp past the police. It was quieter in the ‘jungles’, but after the camp the police have been worse (one of our concerns), “you fucking asylum seekers” was quoted as a common bit of French community policing. More racism was mentioned.

People liked lots of activists coming, but then when everyone goes, and it’s still hard (or impossible) to get to England, they wonder where people are who can help them. Also there have been more plain clothes police patrolling the lorry park up on the other side of the motorway from the camp. They liked the idea of less activists being around more often.

Talking to an Afghan we met with several times around Calais, when asked how we could work together more, WITH migrants not FOR them his two main suggestions where to get action medics over here (he was interested in the whole action medic set up we have) as he could put them in touch with migrants with medic skills and they could work together to provide medic aid – the PASS clinic that opeartes 1-6pm weekdays for migrants out of a portakabin is near the centre of town and it is common for police to pick people up on the way there, especially as lot of people if they are injured can’t run away, and drop them off 3km out of town. Nice eh? Common injuries are from police attacks – physical beatings and asthma related stuff from tear gas, and injuries from attempting to get onto lorries, either from the lorries themselves and their contents or being stabbed by people smugglers if you have a go without having paid your fee.

The other suggestion was to get in touch with Afghans (in the case of his community) with status in UK who could come to Calais and offer solidarity. This would deal with language issues and enable people who have been through the whole process of getting to UK and even applying for asylum to explain what it all involves, and the rpos and cons. Problem here though is that if you have Refugee status in UK you still need a visa to travel (to France as well I think), and it’s obviously not a safe place for everyone.

Homepage: http://www.calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com

Calais: monitoring police activity in the jungle

NEW INFO LINES: If you are coming to Calais to show solidarity and want information: call (from UK) 00 33 6 34 81 07 10 (from France) 06 34 81 07 10

Morning 26th July

-We arrived at the Pashtun jungle just after the police raided it, they were there between 8am and 8. 45 with three police vans and a bus they filled with Afghans, they won't tell us how many but one cop said they will get out in few hours.
-Before (7am) we were at the Sudanese ex-squat; the police was there and checked our IDs.
-We also checked the Eritren squat but no visible police activity there.

Footnotes:
The police were rather talkative and told us they know some of their colleagues are using tear gas and beating people. They also said they know politicians are using them for nonsense.

Night 25th July

-Between 9 and 10pm we were at the Palestinan camp, no visible police activity but they said they are being raided up to three times a day. Two Palestinians were taken three days ago, one was released, the other, who has a wound in his head, has not been seen since. Also an Eritrean friend of theirs was there, the cops took him and he has not been seen since.
-Shortly after 10 pm, we drove to the Eritrean squat: it had just been raided with gas, people were still in shock. They said on Friday the police raided the squat 5 times and took 11 people. Many Eritreans are no longer there cos they can't take these raids any more and have moved out somewhere else.
-We went back to the Palestinian camp thinking the police may be going that way but no police activity there.
-Than we drove to the Sudanese squat they were all out shivering with the cold cos they said the squat and also their blankets are full of gas and they cannot use them any more.
-Around 11 pm we drove past the Hazara jungle ( no sign of police activity) and past the Pashtun jungle, few streets from the Pashtun jungle we saw two police vans parked and another coming, so we drove back and alerted the Afghans. Two of us stopped near the jungle with a camera, two drove around and were stopped by cops, IDs taken and bags checked.After that we drove back, picked up our friends and continued following the cops.
We saw a big group of Afghans, including many minors, who run before the police. Later three boys (12 to 15 apparent age) told us the police took 6 children, they releasd three of them, three were still missing. They were trying to go to a concert and were told by police to go back to the jungle.

Footnote:
One of the Palestinians told us the police have used batons that give an electro shock on him.

COMMENT:
We strongly feel monitoring police activity could be very useful if there were more people doing it: with 5 people and one car we can do little more than observe the disaster and write reports on the abuses we witness.

Homepage: http://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/

Besson bullshit

Today afternoon I saw migrants coming from the PASS medical clinic,
which is open every weekday afternoon. I asked them what was
going on up there, they just told there were four new showers. They
give you a scabies spray in case of need, or if you've got itching
skin or something like that, but no showers allowed without excuse
only for those who have scabies. France is the first country that
treat scabies with showers ! haha that seem funny for me... and the
migrants think this will work! I already told them it is a normal
bath, which isn't effective in the removal of scabies or even a
proper treatment.