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On the 7th of July a 28-year-old a Sudanese man, ‘N.’, was found dead in a Calais river in unexplained circumstances. French police have refused to investigate the death, just as they have failed to investigate a series of fatalities of migrants in the town over recent years.
The shocking events, combined with the usual racist non response by the authorities has left those that knew N., described as a ‘well-loved’ member of the community, determined to get answers.
On Monday over 40 grieving friends and family protested outside the police station, demanding an official inquiry into how N. drowned. The police are refusing an investigation into his death or an autopsy, and have refused the friends and family access to the man’s body. Instead the media has been fed a convenient story about a phone robbery gone wrong: an explanation refuted by witnesses.
Tuesday morning saw much bigger demonstration outside the Hotel de Police – around 60 people turned out- mainly migrants along with No Borders activists and supporters from other associations. The demo was heavily policed – riot cops the CRS blocked off the street around the police station and one was armed with rubber bullets.
This is the latest in a series of deaths of migrants in Calais which are covered-up by authorities without proper investigation. Just last December another Sudanese man, called Ismael, was found dead under a bridge. Police closed the case immediately as a suicide. His friends have never accepted this explanation. Like the current tragedy, friends were denied the chance to see Ismael’s body, and were threatened with arrest by the PAF (border police) when they asked at the police station. Tellingly only a white French friend was permitted to identify him.
Police brutality against migrants in Calais, always dangerous and deadly, has reached new heights this summer in aid of ‘securing’ the border for the London Olympics. The Calais Migrant Solidarity dossier ‘This Border Kills’ documented incidences of people chased off bridges and into the canal and harbour, as they try to evade imprisonment and the vicious beatings routinely dished out by police.
While details of what happened to N. are being pieced together, migrants and supporters are resolved not to let his death go unnoticed stating ‘We will not let this death be forgotten’.
More updates from Calais No Borders Network
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