Manchester and Salford’s immigration reporting centre for people seeking asylum was attacked in the early hours of this morning by protestors. A group broke into the car park at Dallas Court where they sabotaged the vehicles used by the UK Border Agency’s notorious ’snatch squads’.
According to reports, the vans were immobilised and defaced with spray paint, while the access gate to the car park was also put out of action. Stickers reading “This vehicle has been tampered with” were left at the scene to notify staff.
In a statement the group said: “The action was taken in solidarity with detainee resistance. In the past months media reports have covered the hunger strikes in Yarl’s Wood, protests in Harmondsworth and struggles against chartered deportation flights. These are acts of resistance against an arbitrary system of control and surveillance policed by the UK Home Office and European immigration authorities.”
Dallas Court is home to officials from the UK Border Agency. The snatch squads which operate from the centre often head out in blacked-out vans early in the morning to detain those asylum seekers whose claims have been rejected. They are known for kicking in doors before the children go to school in order to catch the entire family at once. Asylum seekers are also made to sign in at Dallas Court at regular intervals, not knowing whether or not they will be detained on the spot.
When arrested, detainees are taken to detention centres such as nearby Pennine House, the holding facility at Manchester Airport, where they wait indefinitely until their cases are resolved. After long periods of incarceration, despite having committed no crime and having had no trial or sentence, most detainees can expect deportation back to the countries from which they fled.
This is the second time in recent years that Dallas Court has been targeted by campaigners seeking to obstruct dawn raids and disrupt the centre’s day-to-day activities, which today’s protestors described as a symbol of the “constant uncertainty and fear” that asylum seekers and migrants live under.
They said: “Every person has the right to fight against these conditions irrespective of circumstance, and as long as these policies exist people will struggle against them. New arbitrary controls such as the immigration cap proposed by the new government will only intensify resistance. Such resistance will centre on the frontline of border security at sites like Dallas Court and Pennine House.”
We only decided three weeks before May Day to call for an autonomous bloc on the annual trade union march and a post-demonstration get-together with the slogan 'You cannot represent us'. This was to counterbalance what we anticipated to be the complete dominance of electoral politics on 1 May in Manchester.
Anti-authoritarians, including from No Borders and the Anarchist Federation, had a decent presence on the march and in town early in the day, distributing lots of literature critical of representational politics. Due to the low profile of the march in Manchester, this was no easy task and we confirm our commitment to mobilise for it in the future.
Others had been busy all morning setting up marquees and a soundsystem on Birley Fields, Hulme. The Fields are due for development by Manchester Metropolitan University and Hulme residents have set up a campaign to save them. A speaker from the campaign described them on the day as 'the green lungs for the working people of the area'. The overwhelmingly positive response from Hulme residents to our presence there shows the great value of this land for the area.
With the rain staying away unexpectedly, the site quickly filled up towards the afternoon with over 200 people coming and going throughout the day. Due to the great work of a Manchester free party crew, music started bang on time at 3pm with a set by Attila the Stockbroker and David Rovics who kindly passed by on the way to their Bradford gig. They were followed by a diverse range of performers and bands from reggae via punk to folk until it got dark. An open-mic speakers corner between the acts saw people from various campaigns talk about government cuts to service and politics away from the ballot box.
The day ended with some impromptu fireworks and a great team-effort to restore Birley Fields to its original state. We are considering a similar event for May Day next year, so be sure to get involved..
'You cannot represent us' was the message of the day, with politicians and candidates reminded that unpopular decisions affecting our lives will always be resisted. The picket was held right across the road from the entrance to the Town Hall where ballot boxes were brought in. Police tried to move people behind crowd barriers but failed.
The petition was actually a large wooden board that was used by people at the autonomous Mayday BBQ in Hulme as a message board to write down why they did not vote.
Some photos are here:
No Borders Community MayDay BBQ 1st May 2010, Birley Fields Hulme.
Sick of the elections? Sick of tedious work, or being told to get a job? Don’t know who to vote for and think it probably wouldn’t make any difference anyway? Us too!
Join us on Mayday to celebrate International Workers Day, the historical and daily struggle of workers - paid, unpaid and ‘unemployed’ - against the daily grind that is work and ‘life’ under capitalism.
Manchester No Borders calls for a 'You Cannot Represent Our Diversity' anti-election bloc on the TUC May day march (Sat 1st May, 12pm, All Saints Park- look out for the banner) and a celebratory BBQ and Alternative Speakers Corner on Saturday 1st May in Birley Fields, 3pm, between Bonsall St and Streford Rd, Hulme. Hulme has a long tradition of dissent and resisting mainstream ideas of how the ‘local community’ should be doing things. Let’s keep it going and celebrate one of the best bits of public green space in South Manchester at the same time .
The three main political parties, as well as the whacky ones like UKIP and the BNP, assume that being ‘tough on immigration’ is the way to win votes.
If you’re sick of such simplistic scapegoating ideas, which divide people against one another locally and globally, and never look at the causes of inequality, join us on May Day!
Come together to celebrate diversity and community! No Borders, No Nations!
BBQ ** Local Musicians ** Fun & Games ** Non Party-Political Discussions **
Spoken Word Performance **Info Stalls ** Urban Gardening ** Kids’ Area **
And post here the rest of it.
Saturday, April 24th - Trof Fallowfied
from 2pm stalls and food
in the evening - gig organised by the band 'Uncle Meat and the Highway Children'.
Here's a message from the band:
As some of you will be aware after Uncle Meat and the Highway Children's summer tour their friend Alex was unable to return to the country. To combat this problem we have organised a benefit gig at Trof Fallowfield on April 24th...
From 2pm there will be art/craft and local designer stalls plus Vegan Dinner Raves will offer you a scrumptious selection of cuisine from all corners of the world to help raise some money to get him back in the UK. Needle & Dread stylist Laurelle will also be about during ther day braiding and dreading hair for donations... If yo have any crafty things like bead, ribbon, wool etc that your dont need please bring it along!
Throughout the whole day there will be a free shop with clothes, books and lots of other unwanted treasures available.
In the evening there will be a selection of live music and poetry from:
Uncle Meat and The Highway Children
John Player Specials
Sam Buchanan and The Bathroom Crooners
Deaf Two The West
Paradox Poets through out the day!
Any extra money raised will go to support the hard work of UK No Borders. http://www.noborders.org.uk/
The night will also offer a variety of information about how and why smashing borders is a good idea and in turn will offer you a chance to get involved with a group near you.
The amount of the Donation is your choice and if your skint feel free to come and join in anyway :)
Can i also ask that if anyone wishes to donate ingredients or help in kitchen, please get in touch. And if you have any unwanted clothes, books, music, house hold items, please bring them along to put in the free shop, if you need help to bring bigger items, get in touch and im sure we can arange something
After living in the UK for 2 years, Alex left to travel europe with his band for 6 months to avoid breaking the rules of immigration. When he tried to return to the UK he was refused entrance at the border due to the fact the immigration officer believed he was trying to obtain work in the UK. The
means of proof being typing his name into facebook and finding out he was a
musician. He was deported back into europe with no means of support. \he
gathered enough evidence to try and re enter several months later, including
a sponsor and a list of people willing to support his stay in the UK.
However the second attempt proved fruitless as he was again refused on the
grounds his attempt was too desperate, detained in a room akin to to a cell
and deported on a boat back to europe where he is now considered an illegal
immigrant. He now has to go back to america and be thousands of miles away
from the life he has created in england. As his friends and family and firm
believers in no borders we are striving to bring him back by putting on
benefit shows in conjunction with no borders and raising money to help
assist him with the expenditure of visa costs and to show him how much we
love him. Plans include the first show in troff, manchester on april 24th,
an all day punk gig sometime in may and many more. We aim to get alex back
within four months. If anyone is interested in helping in any way shape or
form please get in touch, this group has been set up to show our support for
alex and our dissaproval at the immigration control in england, who act like
god and have the right to strip a person of their life no matter what the
circumstances just because a person doesnt fit their idealsim. In a free
world we should be able to travel openly and without fear, BECAUSE THIS IS
OUR WORLD as much as it is theirs but we are the ones STUCK IN THE RED TAPE.
Show your anger, show your support, not just for Alex, but for the joke that
is the whole fucking system..
Manchester No Borders supported Congolese asylum seekers who held a protest against forced removals in the centre of Manchester on Saturday 13th.
About 50 Congolese assembled at All Saints Park at noon, with a small number of supporters from socialist and anarchist groups. They danced and sang their way along Oxford Street, sitting down in the road at intervals in a symbolic 'die in.' The first die-in was outside the BBC building, in protest at its failure to give any coverage to the war in Congo.
You can find a series of photographs and more information about the protest here and here.
There is a video of the protest, with interviews, here.
The national press have started to acknowledge the continuous resistance and protests that occur in Britian's detention centres. The latest - a hunger strike by women in Yarl's Wood who tell of violent and racist assaults by immigration officials - has finally come to the attention of journalists and MPs. This article from the Truth, Reason & Liberty blog provides a good political summary:
"Yesterday, the Observer reported that "Senior Home Office officials will be questioned this week over allegations that women inside Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre were assaulted by staff using riot shields." This comes after significant efforts from immigrant and refugee groups to draw attention to the issue, holding their latest and largest protest on the issue only two days earlier.
That the rebellion inside the centre has finally gained national exposure can be counted as a significant victory. However, the vast majority of the media stil holds to a rabidly anti-immigrant line. With the government determined to do the same, gaining anything more than temporary exposure remains difficult."
read the full article here
We recently posted here news of a planning application by Arora International Hotels for the conversion of the Mercure Hotel, Crawley into an Immigration Removal Centre.
We now heard that the planning meeting has been put back till 25 January. Ahead of this, an to send a message of condemnation, No Borders activists paid another short visit to the Arora branch in Manchester city centre.
We were awaited by a security guard and the hotel manager who somehow seemed to expect our return. There is still time to oppose the planning application by contacting Crawly Council or Arora Hotels.
Supporters of Lydia Besong are demanding her immediate release after she was detained this morning by immigration officials. Lydia, a playwright and human rights activist seeking asylum in the UK, was snatched this morning while signing in at the Home Office Reporting Centre Dallas Court in Salford.
There will be a vigil his Saturday (12 December), 3pm at Friends Meeting House behind the Central Library.
Campaigners are asking people to contact the Home Office urging Lydia’s immediate release and quoting HO Ref: B1236372
FAX: Home Office on 0208-760-3132
and cc firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information contact:
* Richard Goulding at RAPAR 0161 834 8221
* 07776 264646
* RAPAR’s Press Officer Kath on 0161-225-2260 or email@example.com
* or firstname.lastname@example.org
She is now being held in a detention centre in the south of England from which the Home Office plan to deport her on 21 December to Cameroon, where she is wanted by the authorities who previously tortured her for her political views.
Lydia and her husband, Bernard Batey, were told at the end of October that they must leave the UK. The couple fled Cameroon in December 2006, having been jailed and tortured for being members of the Southern Cameroon National Council, a party declared illegal by the government. As well as being tortured during her time in prison, Lydia was raped by one of the guards. When she escaped she and Bernard sought asylum in the UK, where they have lived ever since.
Lydia is a writer, whose debut play “How I Became an Asylum Seeker” was staged by Community Arts Northwest (CAN) on 3 December to a full house at the Zion Theatre in Hulme. She wrote the play partly to find a way of coping with her horrific experiences, and to raise awareness about asylum. She is also on the Management Committee of Woman Asylum Seekers Together (WAST).
More recently Lydia has been working alongside RAPAR and Commonword collecting stories about those living in destitution in Manchester. Commonword’s Artistic Director, Pete Kalu, said, “Lydia has been a tremendous resource in helping us to find new pathways to new writers in communities.”
Lead Artistic Manager for CAN Jasmine Ali said, “Lydia has been an inspiration for the artistic team with her dedication and commitment to the project. Without her contribution WAST would not have had the confidence to devise and perform their play to a wider audience.”
On the morning of 19 November Lydia signed in at Dallas Court to be told that she and her husband were now required to report every week to the centre on Thursday mornings. Lydia was detained this morning, on the third Thursday of the new conditions. Campaigners working on Lydia and Bernard’s behalf feared officials would arrest them at the Reporting Centre, as this tactic is often employed by the Home Office to stop any intervention by supporters and friends.
The campaign to stop the couple’s deportation has gained much support, under the umbrella of the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns. Both current and former MPs, Paul Rowen and Sir Cyril Smith, are backing their constituents along with Reverend Graham Lindley, Parish Priest at St Anne’s Church in Rochdale. Paul Rowen has been contacted by her supporters and is working with lawyers to secure her release.
Robert Sharp, of English PEN, the charity which campaigns for writers and playwrights internationally, is also calling for Lydia’s immediate release.
“This is a blow for freedom of speech. With this detention, Lydia’s fledgling literary career will be cut short. It is astonishing that the UK plans to deport someone who has been seeking refuge from a government that attacked her just for exercising her right to freedom of expression,” he said
Richard Goulding from RAPAR told MULE, “Lydia has now been transferred away from Manchester, presumably in the south of England. We guess Yarl’s Wood but we don’t know for certain.
“The reason it’s happened this week is because she had her play with a full house at the Zion Centre last week, and we don’t think they’d dare do it then. Now they’ve tried to do it with as little fuss as possible.”
In light of Lydia’s detention a vigil has been organised for this Saturday (12 December), 3pm at Friends Meeting House behind the Central Library. In a message encouraging people to attend, campaigner Tom Lavin said, “The Home Office’s deportation strategy is very pragmatic and public pressure makes a big influence on their decisions.”
This has recently been proven by the release of the Mansour family following a judicial review just hours before their scheduled flight back to Cairo.
Talking to MULE, Lydia’s husband Bernard was clearly distraught, “We’re fighting but the system is too much, we can’t go home but the government is trying to force us.
“I’m really confused. I don’t know what she’s going through now. She has to fight, we are going to fight you know. My wife is just my life and we have to fight for our lives.
“But at the moment we don’t know where Lydia is. I’m still waiting for the solicitors call.”
Goulding added, “It’s kind of a waiting game now, but we urge people to come along at 3pm on Saturday to show solidarity and to send emails of support.”
Come at 7 to hear updates from what's happening in Calais, and we're showing the latest No Borders films until about 9.
After this, it's a night of Dub, Dance Hall, Reggae and Ska from the Cool Runnings DJs - until 1am.
FREE entry/donations towards No Borders
The venue: The Corner, it's right next to Trof in Fallowfield, where Landcross Road meets Wilmslow Road.
Gatwick hotel into an immigration detention centre.
* Campaigners vow to target Arora and Mercure until the plans are dropped.
Arora Management Services Ltd has applied to Crawley Borough Council for planning permission to turn its four-star Mercure Gatwick Hotel into an immigration detention centre. If the planning permission is granted, the hotel will be converted into a secure prison and the 245 bedrooms into single and family cells.
Established in 1999, Arora International Hotels is one of the UK's fastest growing privately owned hotel companies, with six luxury hotels in and around Heathrow and Gatwick airports and one in Manchester city centre.
Like other private companies that run privatised detention centres across the country, Arora is trying to sell its plan by arguing that locating detention centres at airports would make deportations easier and less costly for the government.
Anti-detention campaigners have already held two protests at Mercure Hotels in London, demanding that Mercure/Arora drops its plans to turn one of its hotels into an immigration prison. Hotel staff and guests of the Arora branch in Manchester were leafleted by members from Manchester No Borders. London No Borders are calling for a demonstration outside Crawly Town Hall on 7 December, when the Council will discuss the planning application.
The Manchester Arora Hotel is on Princess Street, around the corner from Manchester Art Gallery.
On class and migrant solidarity
“Riot police stop anarchist assault on Britain's borders” was the Daily Mail headline about the No Borders camp in Calais. What happened at “Britain’s borders” and what has anarchism got to do with it?
While the quiet camp passed unremarked, newspapers from the Guardian to the Telegraph ran vivid features on what the camp encountered, documenting migrant lives in Calais with varying degrees of sympathy. These were prompted by government talks and the opening of the UN office, but reflected and refracted our experiences. In Calais, the externalisation of the British border to France creates a situation of direct struggle between authoritative oppression and people who do not obey these restrictions. On their way to Britain, thousands camp in the vicinity of Calais restricted in their agency by oppressive state policies.
In solidarity with those enacting their opposition to control and global inequality by moving across borders in search of better lives, the No Borders Camp aimed to demonstrate (and act) against the state’s hegemonic and arrogant claim to control the movement of people. The No Borders position and anarchism share a mutual enemy: borders as institutionalisation of authority.
Alas, upon our return from the Calais No Border camp we noticed a surprising development. While in continental Europe anarchists mobilise in solidarity with migrants facing the xenophobic responses to the recession (at the Calais demonstration there was a large turnout of French anarchist groups and CNT syndicalists), in the UK some anarchists have begun to question the fundamentals of that solidarity. To us it seems like this is the result of a false opposition of class and immigrant solidarity.
The 'English' anarchists – of that identity they seem to be proud – write on blogs and discussion forums that they will stand in defence of the working class when the “liberals” of No Borders abolish immigration controls in favour of capitalist exploitation. There is Matt D., member of the IWW and Liberty & Solidarity who blogs at ‘workers self organisation’. He draws a distinction that could have come straight from a primitivist or gated-communities pamphlet: “no borders… or community control of resources”. The No Borders position for him is “un-anarchist” as it “can only be realised if some large international body enforces it”. Or take 9/11 Cultwatch writer Paul Stott who finds it hard to believe that anarchists would “travel to another country” in solidarity with migrants rather than staying here in solidarity with workers facing recession. Even Class War founder Ian Bone on his blog defines class struggle in national terms: “it’s our England we will fight for”. Paul Stott again adds to this a typical expression of labour movement nationalism: “Is there anything more likely to drive down existing wages than mass immigration?”
We do welcome discussion and criticism, even and especially of the fundamentals of our theory and practice. We are not shy of debate and hope that in the near future we can continue and exchange with the ‘English’ class struggle anarchists. For now, in the constraints of a short article, we want to briefly respond to four frequent statements from within that movement that we have disagreed with.
1. No borders would benefit capitalism
You will have probably observed that, today, movement is increasingly free - just so long as it is profitable. To say that capitalism would benefit from no borders is to overlook the role border control has served and continues to serve in the maintenance of an exploitative status quo. It is one of the primary means through which labour-power is disciplined and global divisions of labour, privilege and power are enforced. At the border the abstract logic of profit confronts the lived reality of our lives. Hence the border, like the factory, is both a site of suffering and a vector of antagonism.
2. No borders is utopian
Yes, but only if you think like a state. ‘But how can you make this work, its unmanageable, its not practical,’ the anxious statesman will cry. From the perspective of the state, no borders is indeed utopian – a place that could not be. For us, no borders is an axiom of political action, a principle of equality from which concrete, practical consequences must be drawn. It means recognising, on the basis of our equality, solidarity in struggle irrespective of origins. There is nothing less utopian and nothing more immediately practical than this.
3. An anarchist society would have community borders
The border traces a threshold of inside and outside. What is outside is perceived as dangerous and a threat to the inside, hence the ‘need’ for a border. The security that the border offers is essentially imposed externally and with reference to this threat. But there is another kind of security, one created internally through cooperation and mutual support. There is nothing in this kind of security which necessitates the exclusionary and violent practices of bordering. It is this latter kind of cooperative security which we are hoping to create.
4. National culture should be reclaimed
The nation state is a modern/recent form of sovereignty based (not solely) on forms of cultural nationalism which in turn are achieved through the glorification of typically 'English' traditions and stereotypes. We do not aim to undermine or ignore the history and traditions of struggle in the UK. Rather our aim is to undermine static conceptions of culture or community that create imagined divisions between 'us' and 'them'; divisions that have very real consequences for those who find they cannot, or do not want, to fit into these rigidly defined identities.
For us it seems that rather than attempting to transcend notions of class (domination), this new 'English' anarchism appeals to an affirmative cultural identity of class. We feel that we need to abandon such sociological concepts of class for revolutionary perspectives of social struggle. Not everyone sees the distinction between class struggle and migrant solidarity. Let's conclude with a comment by 'Alessio', who defends the no borders position in a reply to Paul Stott: “As the 'English' anarchists ponder on their next move, it seems like every other anarchist movement across Europe strides confidently forward. I see a pattern emerging here, maybe we should be more confident in anarchist politics and how we express them rather than continuously feel that we should pander or apologise to certain sections of the class in the UK.”
Brimar manufactures specialist screens and viewing equipment, mostly for military purposes. They are used by the British army in Afghanistan, the US army in Iraq and the Israeli army in Palestine.
No Borders activists will support the demonstration on Saturday at 12noon. You can find out how to get there and more information on the campaign website .
See you there!.
We made it our group’s banner 2 years ago, and took it to pretty much all the demonstrations and actions we attended.
We also took it to the Calais No Borders camp last June. This is where it got confiscated by the French CRS riot police during a leaflet distribution in the town centre. All people who took part in the (apparently illegal) flyering session got arrested, some quite brutally.
Manc No Borders people got away with it that time (though 3 of us were detained for no obvious reason a couple of weeks ago in Calais). But our banner couldn’t be rescued. There was a dramatic-looking photograph in the local paper the next morning, with two anarchists from Lille running away with the banner from a group of riot cops.
That landed them with the charge of ‘rebellion’ (as far as we understand it that’s similar to ‘resisting arrest’ over here). They were in court in Boulogne today, and we’re still waiting to hear if they got sentenced. What we did hear however was that our banner was used in court as evidence against them! And it’s never to be returned.
We’ve already made a replacement for it, which we took to London last week for a picket of Becket House reporting centre:
There’s a report and more pictures of the picket on indymedia. So look out for it on future demos and come join us.
The EDL are a newly formed group who claim to be protesting against ‘Islamic extremism’. Their recent demonstrations in Luton, Harrow and Birmingham all involved racial violence, racist chants and fascist salutes, and included many known members of the BNP and National Front.
Supporters have called for the protest in Manchester to be ‘the day of reckoning’ when ‘English lions will rise up’, with some going so far as to call for ‘all out war against Islam’. They will arrive from 10am and be kept at bay by police, in theory, until their ‘static rally’ at 5pm in Picadilly Gardens. However, online forums show members discussing possible routes for ‘the march’ and vowing to ignore rules that keep them in one place.
There will be an anti-fascist presence in Manchester City Centre all day. No Borders activists will join the non-aligned/anarchist action which is being organised this week.
See you there!
30 people picketed the entrance to Manchester Town Hall and leafletted top cops from around the country as ACPO members and senior Tories met to discuss policing strategies.
With banners, placards and speech bubbles, the group from Manchester No Borders said: Still Not Loving Police, Still Not Loving Tories - as we returned to the place where we had previously embarrassed council leader Richard Leese with a mountain of jumpers: see here.
A large police presence was nearby with some ten vans and 8 horses in Albert Square. Evidence gatherers also showed up for a while. For more pictures see the report on indymedia.
On Sunday evening, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) held a conference fringe meeting with shadow home secretary Chris Grayling MP in Manchester Town Hall. (Grayling was also the guy who compared Moss Side to The Wire, see here.
Outside, anti-authoritarian protesters held their own rally, and warned that a Conservative government could bring clashes with police not seen since the miner’s strike and the poll tax riots.
Fittingly, the country’s senior police officers were discussing strategies on “how to build public confidence in policing” after the criticisms they received over their use of stop and search powers, their handling of football matches and environmental protests, and the killings of Jean Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson.
We maintain that this will be an impossible task to achieve under a new Conservative government. Have we really forgotten the policing of the miner’s strike and the poll tax riots?
As we see it, the police does not serve to protect communitites. It serves to protect the government of the time and to squash dissent against unpopular policies. And under the Tories there will be a lot more of these.
We are specifically thinking of home evictions, lay-offs and welfare cuts. All these will bring more protest, and if the police step in, resistance.
As a fringe event to the Conservative party conference, the Tories and the police are getting together to discuss the question 'How do we build public confidence in policing?' See below.
Manchester No Borders invites you to join us outside the event, as they arrive, to remind them why we will never have confidence in either the Tories or the police.
Bring banners, placards, etc.
. 17.30 Association of Police Authorities & Association of Chief Police Officers & Police Superintendents’ Association
Manchester Town Hall : Conference Hall
The Thin Blue Line: How do we build Public Confidence in Policing?
Speakers : Chris Grayling MP, Shadow Home Secretary; Rob Garnham, Conservative Lead - Association of Police Authorities; Sir Hugh Orde, Incoming President - Association of Chief Police Officers; Ian Johnston, President - Police Superintendents’ Association; Conservative Local Government Association Representative
consulate today, after French riot police have begun mass evictions
and arrests of refugees hoping to join the UK via the French port town of
On Wednesday, French immigration minister, Eric Besson, announced that the
Calais area will be a ‘migrant-free zone’ by the end of next week. Large
areas of woodland, known locally as the ‘jungle’, where young men, many
still children, have set up temporary shelters are to be cleared and
Following Besson's declaration to make Calais a "zero-migrant zone" before the end of 2009, the destruction of jungles, mass evictions of squats and subsequent forced deportations look likely to take place over the coming weeks and months in the Calais region. Although no mass evictions or deportations have yet taken place, and the specific plans of the French government remain unclear, policies and actions aimed against migrants is undoubtdebly stepping up. The last month has already seen regular evictions and an increase in police activities and brutalities. The video recently produced by a No Borders activist is evidence of this:
A small group of us have been present in Calais since the No Border camp at the end of June, including people from Manchester. Having been witness to daily arrests, gassing and beatings of migrants, we believe now is time to act, denounce and resist the repression of migrants in Calais. Police activity has made Calais a sieged town where migrants are denied their basic rights of access to food, water, sanitation and freedom of movement. We cannot wait for the French government to carry out more devastating actions in Calais, we need to act now!
We have been trying to monitor the police, and when possible prevent them attacking migrants and the camps. We have alerted politicians and NGOs to what is happening in Calais. We have protested at the French Embassy in London, UK, and the French Consul in Barecelona, Spain, and at the CRS police and mayor in Calais. We are hoping to get a more permanent space in Calais soon.
Please join us in Calais.
00 33 6 34 81 07 10
LATEST PRESS RELEASE: A squat in Calais, occupied by dozens of Afghan migrants, was destroyed yesterday morning by the French authorities under the pretext of an anti-scabies operation.
The French government is exploiting a scabies epidemic to clear the migrants from the ad-hoc encampments known as the ‘Jungles’ in the Calais area.
At approximately 10am, scores of unknown individuals wearing gasmasks and dressed in white uniforms, entered the Tajik/Hazara squat in scrubland near the ferry port, tore apart their shelters and sprayed an irritant chemical over their belongings. They claimed to be disinfecting the area as part of a programme to treat scabies, despite the fact that the operation was officially cancelled by the French government. Cooking utensils were contaminated, and the absence of running water in the camps made cleaning their equipment especially difficult. “ We are not animals.” One Afghan said. The unknown individuals also seized essential materials such as clothing, and arrested six people, all under the gaze of several vanloads of CRS police.
Humanitarian groups and activists from the No Border Network and Calais Migrant Solidarity had been monitoring the situation in the numerous camps – which in all, are inhabited by some 1,800 migrants from countries such as Afghanistan and Sudan – but the raid occurred shortly after they had left the camp for the morning.
This incident indicates change in tactics by the French authorities as they now seek to justify the continued repression of migrants in Calais, which has been drawing increased criticism by human rights groups. They intend to protest against the daily raids and police repression with a demonstration leaving from Coquelles detention centre at 2pm on Saturday 22nd August.
The French immigration minister, Mr.Besson has officially announced that plans for the destruction of the refugee camps in Calais and the subsequent deportation of refugees will take place this week between the 20th and 25th of July. There is an urgent need for people to go to Calais to protest against the clearances as well as to act as legal & human rights observers as police begin destroying the camps and attempting to remove people.
Please act now in any of the following ways:
To go to Calais for direct solidarity this week:
For phone and email blockades of the French Embassy in London; Phil Woolas, UK Immigration Minister; the French Interior Ministry. All contacts at the end of this message at http://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/
To lobby your MEP:
To join in protests in London:
For an Open statement about Calais situation to all concerned, to be sent
to NGO's, human rights organizations, Trade Unions, anyone else you can
For helping with direct solidarity in August: