News from Calais


On Friday,  when the judge at Boulogne-sur-mer announced, three times that the trial of 8 friends was irregular the court room erupted into applause and cheering. Waiting outside were a brace of Police de l’Air et des Frontières (PAF) waiting to take 5 of them (the foreigners) to detention after they had been served with Obligation de Quitter la Territoire Français (OQTF). But these had already escaped and were not present to appreciate the announcement of their victory.

The judges had decided that there were too many irregularities and that the authorities had not followed procedure when arresting and detaining the 8 people on the roof of an abandoned building in the centre of Calais on Sunday the 27th April.

This decision marks a political victory for our movement at a time when authorities using the state of emergency arogantly permit themselves to use all means of violence and coersion to impose their rascist politics on people in Calais and the Jungle.

In defiance of the `zero-tolerance of squats` in this city, imposed by the mayor, Natasha Bouchart, the prefecture and co, The Collective ‘Salut o Toi’ opened a building on the weekend of 26-27April. Banners hung on the facade of the building read ‘Une toit pour tous.’ and ‘Amitié entre les Peuples‘ while supporters of the action on the outside handed out pamphlets to the passers by while others filmed the police.

This action was meant to provoke a reaction from the `authorities`, according to Phillipe Mignonet ‘Natascha Bouchart had contacted Bernard Cazeneuve’ the minister of the interior after which the order to evacuate the squat was given, without any respect of any legal procedure. CRS, lots of them, made a cordon around the building whilst other police types armed with a battering ram tried to batter down the door. After failing to budge the bomb proof barricades they smashed a window at street level to enter the building and gain access to the roof where 8 people had gathered and were subsequently violently arrested.

They were put on garde à vue (GAV) which was extended to 48hours after political pressure from ‘high up’ to have a comparution immédiate (fast trial) when the prosecuter initially had indicated that there was no need to extend the GAV nor to have a comparution immediate. This put into question the independance of the judicial authority, indeed”the prosecutors department doesn’t comply the exigence of independance towards the executive power” as frequently repeated by the European Court of Human Rights.

During the initial 24hours of GAV the people were not informed of their rights ; to an interpreter, to see a lawyer, to see a doctor or to contact someone they are close to, neither had they been explicitly asked to give their photos, fingerprints and DNA.

Initially the activists were charged with violation de domicile (violating a domicile) which was soon dropped when it was realised that the building was abandoned, and dégradation en réunion (degradation in a group) but soon these charges were changed to degradation en reunion and refusal to submit to giving their DNA, fingerprints and photos.

At the end of the GAV the people were taken to see the Judge of Liberty and Detention (JLD) to see if they were to be freed or not, by this time the friends, by the counsel of their lawyers, had given their identities. Five foreigners and three French nationals went before the JLD, but only the French were released the other five were taken to detention to garantee their presence at the trial which was to be held the next day, Wednesday 30 March.

Wednesday saw the next installment of this masquerade of justice when three from the five people who had been detained in prison could not be transported from prison to court because of a lack of staff and organisation.

Instead, after a long wait, an audience was organised in a small room with five present and in person to stand trial while a video conference link to the prison where the other three were, was set up. From the begining the lawyers for our team manifested their shock at the massive presence of police, some with automatic weapons in the small room. The three who were not present stated that they wanted to stand trial that day and to be present in person in front of the court and it was the incompetence of the state that they could not be. This resulted in the demand for their immediate release from prison and the trial being postponed until Friday 1 April. The judge, dismayed by the absurdity of the situation, granted their release after the lawyers heavily insisted for a reconsideration of their detention. By the end of the night everyone was free.

Friday 1 April, the court aknowledged the many irregularities in the way the police had conducted themselves during the arrest and the GAV.

To put this victory into context, the month of March has seen the destruction of the south part of the Jungle, the homes of over two thousand people : children, women, men and families were smashed to the ground and thrown away into skips by workers and diggers protected by hundreds of CRS for three weeks until all that is left is a wasteland. This has been an act of terrorism, by a state that decries terrorism in the media, whereas the voiceless have to sew their mouthes together and starve themselves in order to be heard, as nine people did for 24 days, 2 March – 26 March.

This action is a way to shine a light on the systematic destruction of homes and the segregation that exists in Calais to denounce the injustices of this racist, fascist political system.

[From Calais Migrant Solidarity, April 3rd]


Calais: Update on trial and call for solidarity


An update on the court case of the 8 friends arrested for squatting an empty homeless shelter in Calais.

Today, the trial scheduled to take place  at the court in Boulogne-sur-Mer was postponed until Friday, April 1. All 8 had accepted to be tried today,  under the comparution immediate (fast track procedure).

Yesterday, after spending 48 hours in police custody, 3 friends were released until the trial and 5 kept in preventive detention to ensure that they would come to court. However, 3 of those in prison were not able to be transported to appear in person before the court. This was due to an apparent lack of organisation of transport from the prison to the court.

The three friends and their lawyers refused to be put on trial via video-conference, demanding to be present in court for their trial, alongside the other 5 friends. Their lawyers openly denounced the ‘inhumane and indecent’ justice of the 21st century.

Following the decision to delay the trial, the public prosecutor demanded that the three friends remain in prison until the day of trial, Friday 1st April. The lawyers refuted the demand of the public prosecutor, a demand which was completely absurd and disproportional in terms of the allegations against the three friends. They finally managed to obtain a release permit under ‘legal supervision’.

We call for support and solidarity for those on trial for trying to provide a home to those who have none.

Come to support outside of the court in Boulogne-sur-Mer at 14:00 Friday, April 1. Bring your friends, send messages of support, resist evictions and squat the lot!

[via Calais Migrant Solidarity, March 30th]


Calais (France): Newly opened squat evicted

A recently squatted building was publicly opened this morning in Calais, on rue des Prêtres. The building was an abandoned homeless shelter capable of accommodating at least 50 people. People started gathering outside the building around 11 o’clock this morning in support of the people already barricaded inside. A neighbour-collaborator called the cops, even going as far as to offer them a hand when they arrived. By around 2.00 some 12 vans of riot cops had the building surrounded, and those inside had already climbed up on the roof. Around 4.30, they started pushing away the people outside and smashing down the front door of the house with a battering ram. The deputy mayor of Calais who’s name isn’t important enough to publish was holding the battering ram together with the riot cops. Not managing to break down the door, they smashed in a window and opened the front door from the inside. The pigs then climbed on the roof from inside the attic and took the people down one by one, dragging them through the front door and into the arrest van.

Seeing as the people gathered in support outside had been pushed back and charged by the riot cops, we haven’t got many eye-witness details of the eviction. All attempts to film the scene from the outside were blocked by the cops. All those who were inside the building were taken away in arrest vans. The cops told us that they’d been taken to the central police station in the city, but for the moment we haven’t been able to verify their whereabouts or their situation.


Calais (France): New Occupation

For years, the government and the prefecture of Calais have been destroying living places. For years, people in Calais have been assaulted by police and fascists and have had their belongings destroyed . For years, people are forced to live in fear and insecurity because they are foreigners.

The jungle is a ghetto, created by the government following the evictions of squats and other jungles. People live there together in an autonomous way, in diversity and community, in sometimes filthy conditions, where violence and racism are always present. It would be easy to use the rhetoric of pity and victimisation that some associations like, just as easy as it would be to condemn the jungle for being dysfunctional. For better or worse, the jungle is a space where people can live , and now they have to fight for this space. Even if the jungle is precarious, it is still a refuge for many. The fight for the space is not just practical, it is also symbolic. To make sure that people considered “undesirable” are not just treated as a problem to be hidden in containers.

Today, after the eviction of the south part of the jungle, some have left, some are on the street and many have been forced into a smaller and smaller space in the north of the jungle. At the same time, in Calais, many houses remain uninhabited, empty. For us, our legitimacy to occupy these spaces goes without saying. We’ve chosen a place with a particularly powerful symbolism : an old foyer for homeless people. So we‘ve decided to occupy this place in Calais and resist the eviction as long as possible. It is not acceptable for us that in a city which has the largest homeless population in France, where thousands are forced to live outside, that institutions designed to combat this have been abandoned and left to rot. We condemn with this action the systematic refusal of the state to welcome people, refugees or not, with dignity.

On top of being declared by the authorities as a “zero no borders zone” and a “zero-foreigners zone”, Calais is now also classified as a “zéro-squat” city. There are more and more police to control the Calasien segregation and there are fascists who attack and threaten the people who try to go back to town. We cannot let the government impose segregationist laws without a fight. We cannot let the idea of a “zéro-squat” city be spread to the rest of France and the rest of the world.

Just as the ZAD of Notre Dames des Landes cannot only be reduced to a struggle against an airport, but must be understood as a struggle for autonomy, access to land and more widely against our patriarchal legacy and the capitalist system ; the fight for the freedom of movement in Calais is also part of a wider struggle. The fight must be waged against the imperialism and racism of Europe, and the war it leads against the poor and foreigners ; against its borders, its guard dogs and its governments ; for the freedom of movement and settlement.

The destruction of the jungle and autonomous ways of life is yet another way of impeding us to choose our way of life, to build something together outside of state control, regardless of whether we have papers or not. This action is an opportunity for struggles to come together to fight against the government and its authoritarian and repressive policies. We assert by this action our support to the ZAD of Notre Dame des Landes and the reasons that motivate us to take this action. By working together with the people who struggle for the freedom of movement and settlement, we can create something innovative, new and inspirational.

Echoing other similar struggles, we also want to assert the convergence of our opinions : to occupy a physical and symbolic space is also to struggle against the domination and the exploitation of territories by the State. With the implementation of the state of emergency, more and more people are suffering the consequences of more and more repressive policies, which criminalise any attempt to organise. This is why its important to reinforce our solidarity.

Therefore we call for the organisation of actions now and in the following days in support of our initiative, and to spread the information among your networks.

Le collectif «Salut ô toit »

[Calais Migrant Solidarity / 27 March, 2016.]


Notre-Dame-Des-Landes (France): Communique on the meeting with the Calais hunger strikes

This Wednesday 23rd March, four 2012 hunger strikers from Nantes, accompanied by four activists, met with the Calais hunger strikers. Here is their testimony:

“We are here in support, in sympathy, in bringing our experiences, but certainly not to bring advise.

Compared to theirs, our experiences were very light: they have been on hunger strike since March 2nd, isolated in the southern part of the jungle that was destroyed, with a background noise of bulldozers flattening rubble, and the polce that surround them.

The nine hunger strikers are between 17 and 46 years old, and are starting to become marked, tired. They doubt the effectiveness of the speaker that the prefecture sends.

We willingly imagine that they could continue to suffer in total indifference, their determination is impressive but we fear it may be ineffective. They’re requesting that the northern Jungle isn’t destroyed and establishing a British Office in Calais study the migrants’ demands.

We demand that everyone make this hunger strike known. It’s urgent!

We understand that they’re badly torn between two countries, they’re human beings who want to be treated with dignity.”

Press contact:

Marcel THEBAULT / 0789639295
Cyril BOULIGAND / 0621047684

[Translated by Squat! via, March 24th.]