Joined up thinking for the Irish Left
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Dear friends, I would like to appeal to all the members of our community to ask for volunteer moderators, especially for the following time: between the hours of 16:00 GMT
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*Come to Calais: Newly squatted houses need support!*
racism & migration related issues |
Tuesday March 11, 2014 15:01 by CalaisMigrantSolidarity
Police and Facist violence in North France - facilitated by EU border policy
In the week of the 3rd to the 7th of March four houses were squatted in Calais. One of these has already been evicted once and reoccupied. The remaining three are legally secure (in France exists a law which stipulates that houses which have been squatted for more than 48 hours cannot be evicted without a legal procedure) but despite this remain as before under threat. In the past in Calais there have been countless illegal evictions by police, predominately those of living quarters of refugees.
Many of the initial squatters have now traveled further on and so there is the need for support from activists who can secure these future safe spaces, document police violence as well as any eviction attempts and help make the houses livable.
The current situation is a key moment in the story of squats in Calais. It is the first time that there is the possibility to keep many houses at the same time --- a chance which we shouldn't pass up! It will pay off in the future to fight for these houses and the struggle begins now! We have lots of room for creativity and the energy of people who want to support us in this struggle!
**Political Situation in Calais**
Thousands of illegalised migrants without documents live in Calais. They are stranded on their way to Great Britain in the French port city. They won't be allowed to go further. They are also not wanted here. In 2002 under state pressure the overflowing Red Cross reception center "Sangatte" was closed. Since then refugee live on the street, in parks, in ruined buildings or in self-organised camps in the forests or sand dunes. The support of those "without-papers" and the resistance against the reckless EU border regime is diverse. Activists from different countries have built up a continual presence in Calais. They struggle together with the refugees against the constant police attacks, who occupy themselves with keeping people permanently homeless.
Now the refugees and supporters are confronted with another acute problem. Growing fascism. Under the cover of a citizens initiative the right wing radicals are organizing themselves. Their appearance is encourage by the local authorities.
*What happened over the last weeks in Calais?*
One week before the squatting of the four houses in Calais, in a suburb of the north-french city, facist violence escalated. The trigger for the confrontation was the squatting of a farm house which due to the legal situation in France was not evicted.
Consequently enraged neighbors laid siege to the house daily. The occupants were verbally attacked and threatened with death and violence. A short time later the house was attacked by local residents together with the extreme rightwing citizens initiative "Sauvon Calais*" --- the police watched on. Stones were thrown at the roof for hours and badly damaged. As the first Molotov Cocktails flew during the next night the occupants fled the house. In the following nights the fire brigade had to be continuously called to put out fires in the house. Here it was accepted that people could have died.
The attack was without consequences. Anti-facists and activists have mobilized.
Online activists brought down the Facebook page of the citizens initiative and passed on photos of "Sauvons Calais" radical right wing founder to the local newspapers in which he was to be seen with a swastika tattooed on his chest. The next day the photos were on the main page of the local paper and the recently founded initiative was forced to dissolve.
As well as that, in reaction to the facist attack, four more houses were squatted for more than 48 hours and the evidence of this passed onto the police, the district attorney's office and the media. This objective of this type of squatting is to legally challenge illegal evictions by the police. For a considerable time now, activists have been squatting houses, working with a lawyer to collect evidence and give real names so that in the case of eviction a legal process can be initialized. On the 12th of March will be the the first time in the history of the region. If the eviction will be judged as illegal, the occupants could be granted 28,000 euro damages from the district attorney. If the process is won --- and the chances are good --- the police cannot perform anymore illegal evictions without financing the movement through damages.
*Sauvons Calais (en. Save Calais) is a citizens initiative founded by right wing radicals. It is against refugees and campaigns for a ban on No Border activism. It was founded shortly after the city mayor Natascha Bouchard established an emergency number and called for the citizens of Calais to ring it to denounce squatters. Under the cover of citizenship they publish photos and addresses of No Border activists and propagate racist ideas.