transmitter | 05.10.2004 11:28 | European Social Forum
Join the solidarity demonstr'action with the 300 refugees of Calais on your way to the European Social Forum!
Meeting Point: Thursday, 14th October, 6 pm
Quai Paul Devot (next to Lighthouse and Ferry Terminal)
«A sans-papiers woman in France isn’t entitled to life; she just has the right to struggle for survival. We hope you’ll join our struggle.»
Valérie Magnanga, from Bénin.
In coordination with the local and regional support groups working with the 300 refugees stranded in the streets of Calais (who live in make-shift tents since the closure of Sangatte) we invite you to:
° a DEMO through the streets of Calais, starting at 6pm, with all internationals, the local, regional and national organisations (AC, Confédération Paysanne, DAL, Droits Devant !!etc) and the 300 refugees.
° The demonstration will be followed by a meal with the refugees (distributed by the local support organisations).
° Simultaneaous symbolic actions will be organized in Dover and Calais shortly after the meal (more precise information will be given at meeting point).
EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL !!! IT IS TIME TO THINK ABOUT THE TRUE COST OF IMMIGRATION CONTROLS.
Solidarity with all the undocumented migrants and refugees of Europe and the world!
The European Social Forum is a place where the voices of societies most oppressed and excluded must surely hold centre stage. Holding the ESF in London means that the Have-nots of Europe, and the effective struggles they are engaged in for their human rights and dignity, will be barely visible at this ESF. Firstly immigration contols will stop them, as well as the high cost of attending the ESF and obtaining expensive Visas. The charging of refugees and precarious people is abhorrent to the principles of the Social Forum and could serve to pervert the forum into a series of political debates, sidelining the people who are being immediately most impacted by neo-liberal reform.
In a Europe in which the prevalent political discourse is the mass manipulation of peoples fears in relation to migration, the struggles of the sans-papiers have revealed their demands of both equal and new rights, rights that should belong to all of us. The EU continues to engage in economic, and environmental policies and in wars which are making life unliveable for people in their own countries. At the same time it has created a vast network of border controls which give the right to travel and settle to the few while ensuring that those who wish to escape those circumstances cannot reach safety, their families, or a community that might support them. It denies them access to healthcare, education and benefits or even the right of work so that they do not have to depend on charity.
In Britain this reality has been distorted by right wing newspapers owned by Murdoch and politicians like Blair and Howard so that British people widely believe that people are really travelling half way across the world to take advantage of our laughable system of benefits when in reality the people in Calais are mainly from war torn countries whose devastation can be largely attributed to the policies of Western European governments and multinationals.
Through the governments argument that France is a ‘safe ‘country, they deny the reality that people have very real reasons for going to Britain not least that they can communicate with other english-speakers, perhaps get a job and at least a roof and a tiny income until they might be allowed to work and pay taxes. While these basic rights are under constant threat in Britain, the right to work has been outlawed for asylum seekers. If asylum seekers claim in France, they can look forward to a life on the streets with a few tiny benefits. Is it any wonder they do not regard France as a ‘safe ‘ country?
The brutal reality facing people fleeing war or persecution or just wanting to better their (families) lives is very real in Calais. If you ever needed evidence that Britain has abandoned its commitment to the Geneva convention, then nowhere is this more visible than there. The British Immigration Service has now moved to Calais ports. This means that it has effectively sealed its border to anyone wishing to claim asylum in Britain and travelling through mainland Europe since they must reach British soil to do so.
The 3,500 army of police called in to close the Sangatte camp in December 2001 is still present at about half that number. At any one time there are between 2 and 300 refugees in and around Calais, being harassed, beaten, arrested and deported, or picked up by police and dumped in the French countryside. Locals in Calais who try to help them are themselves harassed. Two of them were recently found guilty of giving shelter to refugees, a crime under French Law.
As countries in Europe harmonise these instruments of death and inequality and undermine their own already very limited commitments to human rights, they hope to create a situation by which they can build a pool of easily exploitable labour within Western Europe by managing migration from the new Eastern European member states, a new kind of cheap worker with less rights. As this happens governments are moving towards a system of quotas for refugees, processed outside the borders of the European Union in North Africa and Russia, so that they can still pay a lip-service to refugee protection.
This creates mass inequalities and precarity. Immigration controls have spelt death for thousands trying to get to Europe: boats capsizing at sea, people suffocating in the backs of lorries, suicides in Detention centres, or deportations back to the dangers they were fleeing in the first place. It is time for them to go!!