At 10am today, the No Borders network officially reopened the Kronstad Hangar in Calais to the migrant population. This follows the first public opening on Saturday 6th February, and the subsequent violent police eviction the following day.
The major of Calais ordered the eviction of the Hangar on alleged grounds that the hangar was not fit for public use, so the Kronstadt Hangar is now open as a private space for members of SoS Soutien o Sans Papiers only. All migrants and activists inside the hangar have official membership.
As a continued act of resistance and solidarity with undocumented migrants in Calais No Borders have rented the Kronstadt Hangar for the months of February and March, together with SoS Soutients O Sans Papiers. The Hangar is in between the port and the centre of Calais.
The hangar is presently open to migrants from 10:00 until 18:00. The hangar is not just a humanitarian space but also a space for politicial discussion and debate, as well as various cultural and entertainment exchanges.
Marie Chautempts says "while the authorities are blocking any shelter proposals, migrants in Calais are facing one of the coldest winters in recent history and a constant ritual of police harrasement. The situation is degrading and goes against any common understanding of decent behaviour towards other human beings. Something has to be done, so we are fighting to creating to a space for migrants to come and engage in activities at their leisure."
It is to be noted that at the time of writing the circumstances regarding another police intervention are unknown. However, on the new front door of the hangar Article 1 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been painted. Any violent police intervention into the hangar is regarded as contrary to human rights law.
Article 1 reads:"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
Tim Wallace says "another violent eviction will not deter us, we will not stand by and watch human beings being treated as animals. 8 years of violence and migrants are still in Calais because there is no recognition of the reasons behind migration from places such as Afghanistan, Darfur and Iran."
On Saturday 7th, about 100 migrants came to the warehouse with the intention of entering. They were met by two separate lines of French police on either side of the hangar. Shouting “freedom! freedom!”, the migrants and No Borders activists pushed through the police lines and successfully occupied the hangar. Donations of blankets, extra-clothes, basic mattresses and hot tea were provided for the migrants.
However, after a safe and secure night, 75 CRS police arrived on Sunday afternoon and forcibly evicted the new space by smashing down the front glass doors. 12 activists were arrested, but later released, while one was taken to hospital.
The No Borders network is a global movement of individuals and groups fighting for the right to freedom of movement for people, not just for the Lorries that make sections of European society rich. Since the No Border Camp held in Calais in June 2009, No Borders activists have had a constant presence in Calais under the banner of Calais Migrant Solidarity. We have monitored and documented police abuse and violent, collectively resisted evictions, organised humanitarian aid distribution, and made direct interventions for the rights of migrants.
Distributing firewood, water and food to squats
Graffiti next to the food distribution
Food distro area now fenced & screened off, making migrants invisible+vulnerable
The space is a really good opportunity to do so much - having a space that we share with migrants will inevitably create more cooperative work. I'd really encourage people to get over to Calais and offer whatever they can to the project.
www.calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com has been tidied up a bit and hopefully it's easier for people to find the info they need to participate in the ongoing work in Calais, which is taking a new direction. The text below is taken from the 'What we do' page of the blog and will hopefully give you ideas about how you can be part of what is happening:
WHAT WE DO IN CALAIS
We do a range of work in Calais. Some things require certain skills, but generally everyone has something to contribute to our solidarity work. If you’re coming over contact us (details below) and give us an idea when, and we can tell you what stuff is most useful to bring over at that time.
* basic first aid, dealing with police injuries.
* collecting and distributing firewood, water, food and clothing.
* Patrolling round the squats and ‘jungles’ keeping an eye out for the cops, intervening when possible, witnessing and recording police actions.
* The patrols can be really more effective with cameras, so any video/camera activists are welcome! Also, audio recordings of migrants testimonies are good as many people don’t want to be filmed or are wary of anyone acting like a journalist.
* Selling on SIM cards so migrants can communicate with us (we give out our communication phone number) and with each other.
* We offer migrants a phone to contact Coquelles detention centre on the edge of Calais. You can call direct to a phone inside which arrested people can answer, so people can check on your mates.
* Banner hangs, demonstrations and the like.
There is a huge amount that can be done beyond Calais, both to support the ongoing work here and in the form of solidarity actions. We are always looking for people to help with the following – if you can help please contact us:
* Fundraising and information nights to raise awareness and pass on much needed funds. Click here to donate.
* Regional autonomous support for people who have made it across to the UK and are seeking asylum, especially for minors.
* Taking on handling the UK contact phone for a while. This involves keeping abreast of what’s happening in Calais and responding to enquiries from people wanting to come out to Calais.
* Updating this blog! Internet access, and time to think straight, can be hard in Calais, so you can help by posting texts and rushed phone calls onto the blog, twitter or facebook.
* Being a local or regional contact person or group to help organise trips over to Calais.
* Providing support for people who have been in Calais – whether for a short time or if people are working in Calais over a long period what you see and witness is very affecting and people need to have a chance to try and make sense of what they experience. This can happen face-to-face or by phone or email. See activist trauma support.
UK Contact: 07534 008380
Calais Contact: 0033 699 746 155 (from outside France)
06 99 74 61 55 (from inside France)
The Cronstadt Hangar (new No Borders space) is on Rue Cronstadt, Calais – look for the police car with bored cops opposite watching (no ID checks being made)
The area around the hangar is still sealed off.
On their return the arrested activists were able to retrieve their belongings from inside the hangar one by one, just like on Sunday 7th February. The hangar is without doubt closed at the moment.
We will return, it is our place!!