more evictions and arrests

This morning the police visited the squat of the Eritreans. There are 16 people living there. They told them to take their bags and stuff and leave and that the house would be closed soon. It is not evicted yet but we expect it will be tomorrow.

All the houses squatted the night before last were closed yesterday by the police but have been re-opened, but will again be closed soon as police are sitting in cars outside of them.

Any people who tried to enter the place of food distribution last night were pounced upon by police who waited in the car park opposite all night. Many people were unable to sleep last night and walked all night in the rain looking for somewhere they could stay.. We distributed all our tents yesterday – also Medicin du Monde gave everyone plastic and Salam distributed blankets again.

There are many people in detention in Coquelles, including one minor who the police refuse to believe is under 18. Yesterday 16 minors were arrested in the raid on the Afghans. There are four children under ten here at the moment.

The people detained have the usual complaints about Coquelles – poor conditions, bad food, racist and humiliating behaviour from the police – for example, the officers have been holding their noses when people walk past in the hallways, implying that people smell. Many people inside have no idea of their legal rights, although France Terre d’Asile work inside Coquelles many people we have been visiting and speaking with have never heard of them. The police are deliberately trying to stop communication between the different sections of the prison – people are rushed to the hall for eating and moved out again very quickly so as they do not talk to each other. The rooms are full – up to five people in each.

Many people inside were people arrested in the big raid on the place of food distribution – the police took their bags and are refusing to give them back to people now in detention – always saying “tomorrow, tomorrow..”

People are unable to change their clothes. One man doesn’t even have any shoes as he was refused by the police, when they arrested him, to retrieve them from his bag – so he was walked barefoot to the arrest van and into the police station..

With the constant heavy rain and crazy numbers of police on the street people don’t know what to do with themselves. Nowhere is safe, nowhere is dry and people are so tired.

Eviction of Salam followed by mass road block next to the port. Lighthouse area also evicted. Mass arrests.

 

Yesterday morning at 6am many many police – PAF and CRS – arrived at the place of food distribution and kicked everybody out in the rain. A lot of people were arrested, around 50 people, and everyone was not allowed to take their blankets or sleeping bags with them (which had just been distributed two days before by Medicin du Monde) though they were able to take some personal bags.

People were released throughout the day – though not everybody, some still remain in the detention centre.

After the food distrobution by Salam at 6pm more blankets were distributed. Many people from the associations gathered in the distribution place and it was decided together by many communities that they wanted to make a road block in protest to the eviction that morning.

It was very beautiful to see, maybe 100 people or less sat and stood in the road to the port and blocked traffic. Plastic sheeting was brought and people made makeshift tents over the road. Cardboard sheets were written on with slogans like “where are our human rights?” and “we are not criminals!”.

Chanting and singing and dancing made the atmosphere a bit like a surreal party. There were many police – Nationale, PAF, BAC – who stood and watched for a couple of hours at a distance, directing traffic. A huge storm came over the demonstrators with thunder and lighting and terrible rain – people held out in the road in the rain until it was totally dark before dispersing to find places to sleep.

This morning at 6.30am the police came again in HUGE numbers. PAF and CRS. They evicted the area outside of the food distribution and arrested everyone. They were not very violent but really unpleasant.. They woke people by cutting the tents from over their heads and stamping on the plastic, with people sleeping inside. It was very cold and the CRS found it amusing that so many people were shivering and wrapping themselves in blankets.

The translator they brought with them did not speak Pashto or Dari – only Arabic. 95% of the people arrested were Afghan and so the woman walking round screaming in Arabic that everybody must go to the police station to show their papers and could take there bags, was not understood.

In the police station people were divided into language groups, Pashto/Dari/Farsi/Arabic/Urdu and put into cells. The police were calling the porta-cabin where most of their cells are, “la maison Afghanistan”.

We are unsure at the moment how many people are left inside – but it seems most are released. The last person from “la maison Afghanistan” was released today but we are still not sure about the other police cells.

It seems somewhat like a bad joke here at the moment. With the constant rain and now what seems to be becoming an eviction trend the days are very long and uncomfortable. We desperately need more tents/sleeping bags/blankets/waterproof coats etc.

General update

There are more people still arriving to sleep in Salam, all spaces under the plastic are taken so people are putting up many tents on the grass outside. Also people are sleeping without tents just wrapped in blankets on the ground.

The police are coming to the place of distribution every morning at 7am to count people. Usually it is just one or two cars of PAF but yesterday they came in huge numbers also with the CRS and drove inside Salam. They spoke to every person in turn and wrote down on a clipboard peoples names, nationalities and age. This took them over an hour and a half to go round all the people in and outside of Salam. But there were no arrests.

However, the police are clamping down seemingly harder than before on so called “people-smugglers”.. basically anyone they can catch in the parking who isn’t in a truck. Recently many people have received prison sentences for being people smugglers (but who actually were just trying to cross to the UK). We have been attending many of the court cases to support our friends.

Unit 61 of the CRS is in town but they have been pretty quiet – the previous unit (40 – from Dijon) were very busy with controls in the streets and parks and were extremely racist, only asking for papers from people they assumed were migrants and ignoring other more western looking people.

Many people have Italian papers at the moment but even though the papers allow travel within Schengen it does not make people immune to being arrested in Calais.

Today Medicin Du Monde did a big clean up in the place of food distribution, cleaning the porta-loos, the taps, and all the loose rubbish – which with hundreds of people using the space is really a lot. A massive skip was placed in the centre of the yard and filled to the top. After the cleaning had finished, sleeping bags were distributed to all. Three vans of PAF officers sat and watched all of this take place from behind the fence.

At the moment the situation is not so good. More and more people are  arriving into Calais, without spaces to stay, without blankets and very often the food distributions are running out of food before everyone is fed. People are tired, hungry and as the days and nights are getting colder people are getting sick. Many people are injured at the moment. Broken arms, broken legs, its so common to see hands in bandages and fingers stitched up from where people have ripped them open on fences.

But – there will always be good spirits. Music and dancing and cooking food over fires, there’s lots of fixing bikes sessions, teaching each other languages, making use of home-made library and free shop, playing chess and cards, reading books, drinking tea and regular do-it-yourself barber shop for hair cuts…

What we need:
– Tents, tarps and sleeping bags – we need lots of them.
– Books – in any and all languages. Especially, English, French, Italian, Arabic, Pashto, Farsi, Tigrinya, Amharic and Greek. Language dictionaries would be really really cool, and really well used. (We have many in German and Swedish already so don’t need any more!)
– Games – card games, board games, dominoes etc..
– Tools/bike equipment – the bike workshop space is good but could be excellent. We need tools and other equipment and as usual more bikes and trailers.
– Phone chargers and sim cards

– Also we are in DESPERATE need of cameras… We are missing so much potential footage that could be used against the police.

And if you have any spare time we would love to see you because we have a massive shortage of activists but so much to do!!

Africa House Evicted

 

Yesterday at 8am the police evicted Africa House where 30 to 40 people had been sleeping. There were no arrests, but the police would not let people remove their personal belongings or bedding. As usual, these possessions were taken to the town dump, although much of this has now been recovered.

With no where else to stay, many of those who had been staying at Africa House were forced to stay in or around Salam. There is no space under any shelters in Salam, meaning that the new comers from Africa House (and others) had to sleep without cover from the heavy rain last night.

Africa House and Salam threatened with eviction again

 

All the Associations are back from their summer break, so mealtimes at Salam have started again. With the exception that there is no longer anyone providing breakfast.

At the moment there are about 50 people sleeping inside of Salam and about 30 people outside of Salam, next to the building on the other side of the road. Because people have been there for so long, without being disturbed people have become quite settled, putting up blankets and matresses.

About 10 days ago the Mayor asked the police to remove the people sleeping there and on Tuesday last week the police came and kicked everyone out in the middle of the night. Nothing was removed and the people were able to go back inside once the police had gone.

A couple of days ago there was a meeting in the Town Hall about the issue of people sleeping in Salam. Again the Mayor has asked the police to remove the people sleeping there, which makes it pretty likely that in the upcoming week there will be an eviction of Salam, leaving 50-80 people with no where to stay.

As well as requesting the removal of the people, the Mayor is also attempting to change the agreement that the Associations have with the Town Hall. The Mayor wants a new agreement which says that if people are sleeping inside of Salam that it can be closed down. They also want to include in the new agreement that people from No Borders will not be allowed inside of Salam at all. At the moment we do not know how the Associations are going to respond.

Africa House is also still awaiting eviction having received eviction papers about a month ago, we have no idea when this might happen.

Recent Update; 08.08.12 – 20.08.12

It has been a quiet few weeks here in Calais. The end of the Olympic Games in London saw the departure of the Gendarmerie and additional security forces.

On 09.08 there was an offical visit to the abandoned Douane building (where people are sleeping under the eaves) by high ranking Police officers, accompanied by two unknown civilians – possibly landowners. Officers went inside the building and looked around, leaving shortly afterwards.

Last week Africa House received papers for eviction – stating reasons of hygiene and structural dangers. It is now at constant risk of eviction.

19.08  – A small noise demonstration took place outside Coquelles detention centre. It was well received by those inside who shouted out in response to the demo. Tennis balls filled with sweets and sugar were thrown over the fence into the courtyard, where people are allowed to smoke.
Those detained in Coquelles complained of racial and religious insults from the PAF officers and other forms of oppression – such as denial of sugar for tea.

Last night saw the end of of Ramadan, Eid. No borders marked this occasion by organising a party on the beach. A generator was brought, allowing music of many cultures. Food, drink, dancing and friends made for a memorable Eid. Ques Katir.

Justice for Noureddin Solidarity Demo in London

Today over 20 people held a demo outside the French embassy in London to call for an immediate investigation into the death of Noureddin Mohamed.

https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/07/498043.html

Members of various Sudanese groups were present. Representatives of two groups – Darfur Union UK & Ireland, and Nuba Mountains Solidarity Abroad – submitted a letter they had co-written to the Ambassador.