The following is a partial summary of incidents of police harassment against migrants in Calais in December alone, all of which are designed to make life unbearable for those seeking entry to the UK.
When people are arrested they are taken to Coquelles, an hour's walk back to Calais. This can be completely draining when you are getting arrested on a very regular basis.
Note that these are only incidents which the No Borders activists in Calais are aware of. Other arrests and raids doubtlessly occurred, as however, did the successful intervention by activists. We also believe that we are thawrting police raids by continuing to conduct our 'patrols', whereby we monitor police activity near the migrant communities. For example, when we follow police vehicles to the squats or 'jungles', they tend to drive around aimlessly or stop, and eventually leave. We suspect that the police may have arrest quotas, which may explain why they don't always follow through on raids on specific squats if we are present.
However, we have been far too few of late to intervene in all the incidents. We need more people with papers to come to Calais to show solidarity with those without. If you want to come, see our website :: calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com
Below is a snippet of some acts of harassment they have been able to get away with.
At 9am, in a simultaneous operation, the CRS arrested 18 people at the new Pashtun jungle and 20 from the African community. The latter is inhabited by Sudanese, Eritean and Ethiopian migrants.
The CRS returned again to the African squat at 5pm and arrested 5 more.
Three vans and two cars of CRS then went onto the Arab squat; everyone managed to escape.
15 people, including minors as young as 11, were arrested in a raid on the Pashtun jungle.
8 Sudanese were arrested at the train station.
2 Sudanese being arrested by the port, in their new shelter.
We intervened as the CRS attempted a raid on the Arabic squat and threatened to use CS gas. With prior warning they managed to escape again.
We alerted people at the African squat before they were raided yet again; despite there being 2 vans with over 10 police officers, no one was arrested this time.
While this was happening, three cars of police arrested 10 Afghan youths on the beach.
Multiple arrests were made on the beach at 11.15pm, where around 18 Afghan teenagers sleep. One young boy was injured after being hit in the leg by CRS with a truncheon.
15 Pashtuns were arrested at 10am
3 police vans and and 2 arrest vehicles also visited Ethiopians and Arabic squat. No arrests were made.
At 2am, the CRS poured cold water on some Afghan boys who were sleeping rough, rendering their blankets unusable. Twelve of them were arrested and spent the night in a cramped and filthy police cell with 6 others.
After daily harassment at the African squat, the place was eventually evicted. It was re-squatted.
Police waited outside the new cold weather shelter and arrested the migrants who had left to go to the water point, 50 meters away.
At 10.30pm, four people were arrested by the CRS at the African squat. They took pallets which people vitally need for building fires. They also seized lots of blankets.
At around 4 pm, two vans of CRS returned to the African squat, accompanied by two arrest buses. They took whomever they could catch.
In the evening, the Police aux Frontieres (PAF), went to the Arab squat to count people and check their papers, which is usually done in preparation for a larger operation.
General update of the situation in Calais since the mass destruction of the Jungles in September 2009:
There are at least 300 migrants currently in the town of Calais itself. Local charities and the council have opened a small night shelter for around 150 of the migrants (mainly Pashtun), during the period of harshest weather. The shelter was to have 8 showers, half of which were deliberately burnt down by one or more persons hostile to the migrants. The facility is also expected to close again soon, and those sleeping there will be out on the streets again.
An estimated 2000 migrants live around the coast of Northern France, or further South. The most visible result of the repressive immigration policies implemented by the French government is that life for the migrants has become unimaginably hard.
The smugglers are still here. In fact the price of a journey from Calais to England has pretty much doubled since the destruction of the jungles: the average cost for a 'guarantee' journey to the UK in the back of a truck is now 1500 Euros. This is another remarkable result of the new immigration policies, despite the French immigration minister's assertions that the destruction of migrants' camps was done for 'humanitarian reasons' and to defeat people's smugglers. In fact the smugglers are profiting from people's misery and people are pushed further into the mafia's hands by the desperate conditions they are forced to live in.
The jungles are still here. The Pashtun jungle was razed to the ground, trees included, but people are sleeping in the woods nearby. The new camps have also been destroyed or torched by the CRS and people just shelter under bits of tarpaulin. The CRS keep going there and arrest all those who do not manage to escape, any time day or night. After, they slash the plastic covers with knives and destroy the blankets and people's property. It rains a lot.
Most of the people who were sleeping under bridges, where they had some shelter from the rain, have moved elsewhere, due to excessive police harassment and repeated destruction of tents and blankets. Still a few people sheletring under bridges, but police go there up to 3 times a day.
Article published first on 02. Jan 2010 @ :: indymedia.org.uk.