Archive for December, 2009

The EU’s murderous borders: four poles of suffering and denial of rights

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on Friday, 25 December, 2009 by bristolnoborders

“A report published by Migreurop (a Euro-African network of 40 organisations from 13 countries working on issues of immigration policy, externalisation and their consequences within and beyond the EU’s borders) in October 2009 paints a vivid picture of the effects of the EU’s migration policies by focussing on three regions in which a number of common denominators are identified in spite of the significant difference between them (the Calais region and the north of France, the Greek-Turkish border and the Oujda region in eastern Morocco). These are added to by a case study on events on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where practices have been adopted for the sake of expediency that confirm the suspicion that legal guarantees and human rights conceived as minimum standards for the treatment of all human beings are becoming a luxury that is not meant for migrants who have been criminalised and de-humanised as “illegals”.”

The themes that run through all the sections from specific areas are those of controls and attempts to stop migrants, their detention in awful conditions that often entails abuses by guards, and a de-humanisation that goes so far as to result in deaths and in the use of legal and illegal dissuasive practices, among which the Dublin II regulation and illegal repatriations are identified as being particularly harmful. Instances of resistance against policies enacted by government by migrants themselves and local populations that express solidarity for them are also examined. A special emphasis is placed on how some French policies are officially justified as seeking to prevent “a draught” that would encourage others to migrate towards Europe, that the authors interpret as people being made to endure dreadful situations not for their own sake, but for the message to reach their home countries and particularly those who might be tempted to follow them in the future.

Surprising parallels are drawn, such as those between the “tranquillos” in northern Morocco and the so-called “jungles” in France, which are both make-shift shelters self-managed by those attempting to escape the attention of the police, immigration authorities, in short, to become invisible while they try to plan the next stage in their journey after hitting a dead end. In Morocco, they face the choice between trying to cross a heavily guarded stretch of the sea in which thousands have died en route to Spain, trying to climb the six-metre-high fencing erected around the Spanish north African enclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla, or to reach them by swimming around the border, again, risking death. In France, they have the Channel blocking their way into the UK, the Dublin II regulation stopping refugees among them from claiming asylum in case they are sent back to the countries they first entered the EU from (most often Greece, where the level of successful applications is well below 1%), resulting in a likelihood of them never being able to obtain asylum regardless of whether they fulfil the requirements for it.

Everywhere, the police are on their tracks, and capture involves the risk of detention, sometimes entailing violence as well as terrible living conditions, and expulsion, except for those who come from countries to where some European states will not expel them (unlike the UK, France does not usually repatriate Afghans), although this is not an issue if they are captured in Morocco or in Greece, where night-time returns to Turkey in perilous conditions across the river Evros are commonplace. The Italian practice of directly returning intercepted boats to Libya without identifying the people on board or their nationalities since May 2009 is a classic example of how the wish for expediency is trampling even the limited guarantees provided by increasingly harsh national immigration laws- expulsion without a judicial authority issuing a formal order; the presence of likely refugees disregarded; returns to presumed transit countries where they are likely to experience further abuses.

There are many excerpts of first-hand accounts from migrants’ experiences, ranging from a complete lack of understanding of the situation in which they are forced, for instance an Afghan youth in Calais who wonders how it is possible that he is not allowed to stay, nor allowed to leave and is thus condemned to roaming aimlessly, feeling as if he were “in a cage”, to harrowing descriptions of spiteful and mocking treatment at the hands of border guards that went so far as to lead people to perish, both on the Moroccan-Spanish border and the Greek-Turkish one.

The lasting impression caused by the report is that thousands of people are facing incredible ordeals as a result of policies, that awful living conditions from poorer countries are entering the EU as a result of exclusion and the creation of categories that are permanently forced to live in a condition of invisibility. On the other hand, to help them “regulate” immigration flows, the EU and its member states are funding a vast expansion of the internal security apparatus in bordering countries and of tough laws that are often implemented on the basis of skin colour.

This often means that visits by authorities from European countries and EU institutions for negotiations with third-country governments in this field result in indiscriminate round-ups in neighbourhoods in which large numbers of migrants live and in the spread of racism, both by security and police forces as well as by members of public, for example in north African countries against sub-Saharan migrants suspected of seeking to emigrate to Europe.

The report is available on the Migreurop website:
Les frontières assassines de l’Europe (French, original)
Europe’s murderous borders (English)
Fronteras asesinas de Europa (Spanish)


Official Welfare Centre to Open in Calais?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on Tuesday, 8 December, 2009 by bristolnoborders

According to the Daily Telegraph: “A new welcome centre for UK bound illegal migrants is to open in Calais before the end of this year”.

“French officials insisted that it would only be a “day centre” for foreigners who are in a particularly bad way including the sick, pregnant women and minors under the age of 18. But the plans agreed by the Administrative Court of Lille include central heating, hot showers, and a kitchen. Officials defended the plan as a humanitarian response.One said: “There are more than 1000 migrants sleeping rough in the town, and with temperatures dropping their living conditions are getting worse.”“He said that September’s destruction of The Jungle, an illegal shanty town full of mainly Afghan young men, had not had the desired effect.

“It did not persuade them to leave, so we have to offer them a basic level of support,” the official added.”

Note that this new welfare centre will not offer accommodation. What this means for the current policy of the police destroying all accomodation/bedding that those sleeping rough in the Calais area is now unclear.

It’s a sign of the times that French Officialdom have kept such a basic humanitarian plan secret; and once it had been discovered had to defend it as if was something outrageous.

The Tory Shadow Immigration response is a foretaste of the roasting that the idea will get this side of the channel:

“This is another gesture of contempt from France to Britain. The only result of this will be to encourage more potential illegal immigrants to try to break our laws.

It’s such a perfect combo for the right-wing press: The Wogs and The Frogs Begin at Calais*

*”The wogs begin at Calais” was originated by George Wigg, Labour MP for Dudley, in 1949. In a parliamentary debate concerning the Burmese, Wigg shouted at the Tory benches, “The Honourable Gentleman and his friends think they are all ‘wogs’. Indeed, the Right Honourable Member for Woodford [i.e. Winston Churchill] thinks that the ‘wogs’ begin at Calais.”[3] Wigg’s coinage, sometimes paraphrased as “Wogs start at the Channel” or “Wogs start at Dover”, is used to characterise a stodgy Europhobic viewpoint, and more generally the view that Britain (more so England) is inherently separate from (and superior to) the Continent and the rest of the World –  A view only now maintained by the stupid and the bigoted, which unfortuantley includes much of the media. In this case, “wog” is used to compare any foreign, non-English person to those more traditionally labeled “wogs”.

Calais today: repression has escalated to unprecedented levels

Posted in Uncategorized on Saturday, 5 December, 2009 by bristolnoborders

Arrests have increased dramatically since the end of November, as well as raids on squats and jungles.

The new Pashto jungle is being raided over and over, with dozens of people arrested every time including several unaccompanied boys, some as young as 11 or 12. Police brutality is on the increase for beatings – a 13 years old boy has been injured in a leg by being hit with a truncheon. The CRS have been seen again using gas.

All new camps have been destroyed. After arresting everybody who does not manage to run or hide, the police slash the plastic covers with knives and destroy blankets and people’s possessions. Two large urban squats are also under constant attack and police patrol the beach and the park arresting people there all the time.

Usually people are released after a few hours, or they have to spend 12 hours or more in the police station. They have to walk one hour to go back, including under age children, sick and injured people and people with papers (who have applied for asylum in France). Increasingly people are detained for longer, lately often taken to deportation centres other than Coquelles. They are routinely threatened they will be deported if they do not apply for asylum in France – to Afghanistan or other countries. Many people have finger prints in other ‘safe’ counties from where they have transited – such as Greece – and they may sent back there according to the Dublin2 agreements.

(note: there is evidence of police torturing migrants in Greece, two have been killed; illegal deportations from Greece to Turkey are a common occurrence –and from Turkey eventually to the countries the people are escaping from, in flagrant violation of the 1951 Convention on Refugees).

The migrants of Calais want to go to England and eventually make a claim for asylum there. They want to live without constant fear of arrest. Shakir said: “the public of Calais are good but the police are a problem”. His friend Tariq said: “If I am in England I will celebrate Christmas, but I will probably spend my Christmas in the police station. “…Shakir is under 16. He is alone in Calais, on his journey from Afghanistan.


Calais Migrant Solidarity have been present on the ground all the time since the No Borders camp in Calais (end of June).We now have an office space and a space where people can sleep – it can get pretty crowded though! More support is needed, especially since the repression is escalating. With Besson’s threat to make Calais ‘a migrant free zone’ by the end of the year in mind, we are calling for more activists to come and support.

If you want to get involved or just would like more information, please call 0634 810 710 or email
For more details and updates see


Migrants: still here. At least 300 people go to food distributions in Calais . An estimate 2000 migrants have spread around the coast to safer places, or down 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.

Smugglers: 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 worthless claims that the destruction of migrants camps was done ‘with dignity’ and 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.

Jungles: still here. The Pashto jungle has been razed to the ground, trees included, but people are sleeping in the woods nearby. The new camps have also been destroyed by the CRS (riot police) 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. Hazara jungle: similar situation.
Iranian jungle: similar situation.
Kurdish jungle: similar situation.
Sudanese jungle: camp destroyed again and again, most people have gone to the beach (shelters have been destroyed also there) or to squats or they are trying to sleep rough in various places.

Bridges: gone. All the people who were sleeping under bridges, where at least they had some shelter from the rain, have moved elsewhere due to excessive police harassment and repeated destruction of tents and blankets.

Squats: still here. Africa house has been razed to the ground. Ethiopia house still here but under attack by the CRS. Recently evicted, everybody who did not manage to run or hide arrested and all blankets and people’s property destroyed. People returned having nowhere else to go. Calais Migrant Solidarity and than Salam gave them new blankets and warm clothes. Later the police returned and arrested people again… and again
Another large squat inhabited by Egyptians, Palestinians and other Arabs plus many Afghans is also under attack.

14th December Copenhagen

From the 21st to the 1st January
We are planning to have celebrations, tours of jungles and squats, films, workshops and a surprise party!


Calais Migrant Solidarity activists
– Homepage:

Bristol No Borders Winter Do! – Food and Films

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on Saturday, 5 December, 2009 by bristolnoborders

As the days get shorter and the wind gets stronger ……..

Bristol No Borders takes its turn in hosting the Sunday vegan cafe at Kebele social centre

Sunday 6th November @ Kebele, 14 Robertson Rd, Easton BS5 6JY

As well as a delicious vegan roast dinner, something to wash it down with, and an opportunity to hang out socially, we’ll be film screening….

From about 6pm – set vegan meal, for a requested donation of 2 quid. All proceeds to cover costs of meal and pay the bills at kebele social centre.

From 7.30pm – “In This World” (2002) – Pashtu/Farsi with English subtitles.

This intimate, yet hard-hitting, response to mainstream UK immigration debates follows two Afghan teenagers as they escape from the Shamshatoo refugee camp in Pakistan, along the smugglers’ route known as The Silk Road.

Travelling through Iran, Turkey, Italy, and France, Jamal and his cousin Enayatullah embark on a desperate journey to freedom. Short on money, lacking proper papers, and forced to travel in trucks, lorries, and shipping containers.

Shot on digital video, “In This World” is styled as a fictional documentary, using voiceover narration and real characters and locations (including the infamous Sangatte camp). The predominantly improvised script creates a powerful piece of guerrilla filmmaking, with two engrossing performances from the non-professional leads.