[ 18. Jul 2009 ]

On the border

Police arrest migrants in Calais

When asked to make a statement to the world, the resounding response from our Kurdish and Iranian friends was always the same "we want to be free, we want to be free".


Describing their situation on the ground today, they said "we would really like you to be able to see for yourselves the conditions in which we are forced to live: our tents, our lack of washing facilities, the queues for food. Sometimes we cannot even get water to drink. When the police find us with water they empty our containers down the drain, and we have to start again to find some.

In order to get food from the distribution centre, we have to walk for 40 minutes to get there, and 40 minutes again to get back to the "jungle" (our camp). At this time we are really scared that the police will catch us. This often happens: they catch us and hold us, often for 24 hours. When we are released they watch us walk down the road, and 10 minutes later, the same policemen catch us again and hold us for another 24 hours. They are trying to makes us tired, they are trying to make us despondent so that we give up.

When they have us in custody, the police don't show us any care. Sometimes they push us about; they don't let us go to the toilet when we need to; they don't give us enough food – even when they detain children they don't give enough food to them."
When it is raining and the wind blows strong, so we ask you, "were can we sleep?" The ground is soaking wet, there is nowhere warm or dry for us to go. If we get some blankets or covers, the police quickly find them and trash them so that they cannot be used, and again we have nothing. We are scared that they will spray us with tear gas, it hurts our eyes. This often happens, and afterwards we ask ourselves "Why, why does this happen to us?" We are not criminals. We are people just like anyone else. Only we don't have homes. Our country is not safe, we had to flee our homes, and this is what we find.

If you take my fingerprints you can see that I am a clear person, a good person. I have done nothing wrong, I have nothing to be ashamed of. So why not give me a paper so that you don't need to check my fingerprints every 5 minutes. Then you can see that I am clear and I don't need to go again and again to the police station (you know, the walk back to my friends is a long one, and I know the route well). In Italy when they catch you, they do like this: they take your fingerprints, see that you are clear and then give you a document that can last up to 6 months. Then any time you are stopped, you can show it to the police, and they can be reassured that they already know you. The Italian authorities treated us well. (*)

So then you ask "why do you want to go to UK?" - It is because once we are there, if they let us stay, we will have real freedom. This is not the case in many European countries where our movement would still be restricted even if we were granted refugee status. We understand this. Also, they say English people have respect for all of humanity, including foreign people. They will make sure that we have food and shelter. But now we hear that the situation is getting more difficult there, so maybe this is no longer the case.

So finally to answer the question of what it is that we want from you. We want a FREE COURT. We want you to hear our story, to write about our situation so that people know what is happening here."

(*) This is the personal experience by some migrants during their time in Italy. We like to add, that there many migrants are mistreated, too. The Italian far right government is currently changing the laws which will bring more and more repression to many people, especially migrants and refugees, in the future.
To find out more about see:

This article was published first in Nomade, the Calais Noborder camp magazine, issue 3, 26th of June 2009.