Home | Friday 17th September 2010 | Issue 739
CALAIS: CHANNEL HOPING
A SCHNEWS correspondent reports fresh back from a Calais Migration Soldidarity visit ...
Despite on-going police repression, last week saw activists helping to create safe spaces and a range of festivities for all. Music, art, shared food and solidarity successfully transformed what is usually a place of misery and brutality into a scene of life and celebration, if only briefly.
With Dutch activist kitchen Rampenplan providing delicious vegan food, musicians came from across Europe to perform in parks and at squats, all under the watchful eye of the French security forces. Undocumented migrants shared their rich musical traditions, with Pashtun dances and singing in Kurdish, Dari, Arabic amongst other languages. Throughout the week the CRS (French riot police) illegally raided squats, arresting and mistreating activists and migrants.
Nonetheless, through it all, some welcome spirit-nourishing fun was had. Given the state of repression in this town, just being able to go out and make music together can be a remarkable act of struggle here. People said, “This week I thought I wasn’t in Calais”.
Then, on Monday, as if to quash any uplift, Africa house - Calais’ largest squat - was raided by CRS and the PAF (French Border Police) with unusual violence. Cops even attacked activists in the police station.
Such repression has only served to bring activists and migrants closer; some recorded musical collaborations are expected on the CMS website soon.
But still the madness continues; many people are arrested every night at the Kurdish jungle and driven several hours away from Calais before then having to walk all the way back.