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Over 100 undocumented people blocked the main route into Calais' port on Tuesday (25th). The militant migrants – who succeeded in blocking access for most of the day – were protesting their ill treatment at the hands of the French police and the crisis of homelessness which has gripped the town in recent weeks. The mood was defiant, with singing, chanting and banners reading 'We are not criminals', despite the stormy weather and pissing rain.
The blockade fittingly took the form of a temporary camp. After the cops evicted the town's food distribution area, which towards the end of the summer had become like a mini-Sangatte as people set up camp under the awnings desperate for shelter, 60-plus men were left with nowhere to sleep, and without tents, blankets or sleeping bags which were taken to the dump.
Further evictions of squatted derelict buildings during the round of mass evictions throughout September worsened the situation. Even last-ditch-attempt shelters dotted through the town against the sides of old buildings or secluded in patches of scrubland were flattened the next morning (Wednesday 26th). Nearly fifty people were arrested during this swoop and taken to the detention centre.
Conditions in the full-to-bursting Coquelles detention centre on the outskirts of Calais have been reported from those inside as bad, with basic necessities like shoes denied, and no attempts from the police to inform people of their rights or their situation. There is one minor imprisoned who the police refuse to believe is under 18. Numbers of PAF (Police Aux Frontieres) roaming the streets have risen again, and the general atmosphere is oppressive, dangerous and desperate.
Earlier this month, on 12th September, another long-standing squat was evicted. This one was en route to the channel tunnel and numbers had been swollen by refugees from Sudan and Chad who had moved there after the mass evictions in the centre of Calais in the spring. About forty people were kicked out in the early hours and all their possessions taken to the town dump. Soon after bulldozers moved in to destroy the place.
Our No Borders correspondent on the ground said:
“Calais' Mayor, since getting back from her summer holiday, has been thrashing out threats, and not just at 'migrants' and No Borders. The Mayor has been demanding local associations and charities help to evict people themselves otherwise she'll close down the area where the charities give out food altogether. A nice bit of bribery – turf out the homeless or she'll starve them out.
The town hall has also been regularly threatening to shut down a new space for an internet cafe, workshops, language classes, bike maintenance etc for migrants and locals. The Mayor's obviously threatened by the idea of a safe space for undocumented people where community alliances can be made.
Despite relentless harassment and attacks on people's means of living and existence, the resistance continues.... buildings that lay empty will be occupied, fences will be jumped over and surveillance systems will be evaded. Friendships and Alliances across borders will be made and the daily fight against the greed of this racist society will never end – until the day every person is free.”
See www.calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com for more regular updates from the ground.
BIKES WITHOUT BORDERS
On a more practical note there's been an urgent call out for bikes, trailers and useful tat such as tents, sleeping bags and tarpaulin for people in Calais as the winter approaches. A bike train will be going from Brighton Weds 10th Oct. The plan is to collect as much useful tat and bikes as possible and take them over to Calais. Meet Monday 8th Oct & Tuesday 9th Oct to fix up bikes @ Cranks, 22 Chapel St, Brighton, BN2 1RQ. (http://cranks.org.uk) or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details or if you have stuff or money you can donate for this project (even if you can't come yourself) or need a crash space in Brighton before we go.
WHAT WE NEED IN CALAIS
People on the ground, particularly over the winter months - supporting people find shelters to sleep - documenting police and state harassment, evictions and attacks - intervening in police abuse - supporting people in detention or prison - supporting demonstrations and actions - holding workshops, language classes, bike maintenance, building stuff etc... come with ideas - distributing tents, blankets, clothes, water, firewood Donations - Tents, tarpaulin, sleeping bags and blankets - we need lots of them. Decent clothes: jackets, jumpers, trousers, T shirts, hats, scarves, gloves, underwear, socks, men's shoes - Books – in any and all languages especially, English, French, Italian, Arabic, Pashto, Farsi, Tigrinya, Amharic and Greek. Language dictionaries would be really really cool, and really well used. (We have many in German and Swedish already so don’t need any more!) - Tools/bike equipment – the bike workshop space is good but could be excellent. We need tools and other equipment and as usual more bikes and trailers. - Phone chargers and English sim cards (Lyca and O2) - Games – card games, board games, dominoes, footballs, basketballs, etc.. - We are in DESPERATE need of cameras… We are missing so much potential footage that could be used against the police. -
Money to keep the space running and for materials:
Account name: ‘Calais Migrant Solidarity’, Unity Bank, sort code: 08 60 01, Account number: 20233983, IBAN code: GB11CPBK08005150073210, Swift/BIC code: CPBKGB22.
More updates from Calais No Borders Network
'Non-citizens' take to the streets of Berlin in the latest instalment of the Refugee Strike shaking things up in Germany.
Civil liberties activists in Germany and elsewhere are taking a novel, and militant, approach to CCTV culture.
SchNEWS interview's one of the ZAD crew
Following evidence of cruelty against migrants submitted by solidarity activists, French police are under scrutiny from Defender of Rights.
For 25 years Golden Dawn were a marginal group that for the most attacked small left-wing and anarchist groups and sometimes would also go for immigrants. Until a few years ago they never measured more than 200 members. Up until recently they had one office. Now? They have forty-eight.
One group of Spanish workers has come together to stick a spanner in the works of austerity misery. Or more specifically, in the locks.
Sadness and disappointment but no surprises as judges in Amsterdam rule against releasing Morgan the Orca back into the wild.