[ 02. Oct 2009 ]

In the Jungle of Calais ...

Pashtun Jungle, 21. Sep 2009: We want asylum in Europe

... with the migrants who were dispelled by the police. By the Autonomous Activists of Lille - Militants for human rights.


We are a group of persons who for several months have been involved with the migrants within the No Border Network. If we went in the morning of Tuesday 22 September 2009 to support the migrants of the Jungle at the moment of their expulsion by the police, it was in the first place because we have real friends among them.

For months, we have been witnessing the arbitrariness of the Calais police, the systematic use of intimidation, gas and batons. We have established the absurdity of the Dublin II system which sends the migrants from one country to another like ping-pong balls, because none of those countries is prepared to accept their asylum applications.

We have noted to which degree the danger represented by people smugglers is nothing but a specter used to warrant the repression used towards the migrants. We saw in particular how much these migrants resemble us and only try to build, wherever they are, a decent and peaceful future, how the clichés circulated against them fall flat at their contact, if one takes the trouble to shake hands with them, to share a cup of tea and to understand the reasons and the terrible conditions of their exile. When we heard about the decision of the government to close the Jungle of Sangatte (Eric Besson, 16 September 2009), we therefore had good reasons to be furious.

We were some ten people leaving at three o'clock to try the impossible, that is to protect the migrants from the violence to be expected from the police. At our arrival we found that more than 150 migrants had gathered around the campfires, with banners in English and in Pashtun expressing their desire to stay and to be respected, supported by numerous militants, waiting for the destruction in a heavy atmosphere.

Panic and siege

At 7h30, we saw the first trucks arrive, then the policemen take their positions around the Jungle to block all the access roads, this to such a degree that many people of Calais could no longer circulate in the vicinity of the Dunes zone. When the policemen started to besiege the premises, the migrants got into a real panic. After some tried to run away, most of them assembled. Our first reflex, together with the other militants who were present, was to encircle the migrants with ropes and banners in order to protect them, which was only symbolic in the face of the horrible and merciless determination of the state.

We all have memories in common with these migrants, at that moment we had in our thoughts the moments spent with them. At our backs were kids of fifteen or sixteen holding on to us, afraid and in tears, while the policemen were trying to break our solidarity. After they ripped off our rope, we formed a human chain, which the policemen broke by pulling our arms, shoulders, heads, anything they could get their hands on.

Confronted with the increasing violence of the policemen, the migrants' despair built up and because of this we had feelings of hate and rage which made us forget all fear of physical or legal risk and which more or less enabled us to face up to the repression for almost 25 minutes, those of us who had been detached returning to continue to resist.

It is Europe that is insulting them

The policemen tore the migrants lose from our group, dragging along the ground some of them who looked at us imploringly and afraid. Those looks were intolerable for us who before had seen them filled with hope, when those same boys told us their dreams and ambitions for the future. During that raid, the migrants have been considered and treated like game, have been protractedly dehumanized and humiliated. They too will surely not forget what they have been subjected to that morning. It is Europe which has insulted them in their dignity.

While the population of the neighborhood rejoices about the of the operation, we regret that migrants and militants have been the subject of a spectacle organized for the media and for public opinion, with the aim of staging a political masquerade which wants to make people believe in a solution of the problem, whereas it is only a sad communication operation of the government of the European Union.

Journalists have been chased away with the same violence and a camera was destroyed when the police started to lose patience in the face of the sustained opposition of the migrants an militants. The migrants also tried to resist, but were even more targeted by the police when they tried to maintain the lines with us.

We put forward the question: what do the authorities have to fear of the presence of journalists? Why were they removed? We suspect the state of trying to hide from the public its way of action and its methods of the migration issue.

We want to say that we will not forget certain images of violence and despair, which strengthen our determination and our contempt for this system which day by day generates more injustice. From now on what we feel is the magnitude of our inability and a marked loathing for today's politicians.

It is more than time to put the question of borders in a different way, in order for everybody to understand that closing them is neither a solution, nor a democratic way of solving the economic catastrophe we are all experiencing because of capitalism. The crisis is not due to foreigners, legal or not, but is an integral part of a system that uses unemployment and redundancies as an adjustment variable for a defective machine.

We will fight every day against today's immigration policies, because they are only the expression of an intolerable and unfortunately ordinary individualism, which tends to make of the foreigner an intruder responsible for all the wrongs of capitalism.

The stigmatization of a population, when it is followed by legal and policing measures taken against it (finger printing, systematic card-indexing, physiognomic checks, denial of elementary rights, deployment of special police forces, group arrests and raids...) can only lead to barbarism.

What has happened in Calais this morning is not a consequence, but a precedent. This is not the first, nor the last mean trick of Europe....

Published first on 23. Sep 2009 @ ::