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.]