One more time, the French government – in collusion with the UK – has announced plans to evict the homes and shelters of many undocumented people living in Calais. People have until 20:00 on Tuesday 23rd February to leave the Southern half of the Jungle. According to the government, those resident in the eviction zone should move, disappear, be put behind walls, be locked up or deported. The only reason for this, their lack of regularized status. Eviction notices were served on Friday. Many inhabitants of the Jungle, supported by associations, served a complaint against the eviction and destruction of the camp. This appeal will be heard in court in Lille on Tuesday, 23rd February at 2pm. The judge presiding over the case will visit the Jungle on Tuesday morning. These are the facts so far.
The announcement to destroy the Jungle is not surprising to us. For years the government and the prefecture of Calais have systematically destroyed the homes of people without papers. For years undocumented people have been beaten by police and fascists. For years the sans papiers of Calais have had their possessions stolen or destroyed. For years people have been forced to live in fear and insecurity.
The jungle, as it is today, is a ghetto created by the French government after a series of evictions of squats and other jungles last year. It is not possible to say that this Jungle is either good or bad. There are people living together autonomously, in diversity, and in community but there is also squalor, infighting, racism, and violence. It is far from a utopia. In this case it is too simple to use the rhetoric of pity and victimisation but on the other hand it is also too easy to condemn the Jungle for its problems. For better or for worse the Jungle is a space where people are allowed to live. It is a space worth fighting for. This is a practical fight, to defend a place to live (though transitory, precarious, and segregated) but it is also a symbolic fight, carving out a space for undocumented people to live publicly and to not be hidden and concentrated within a container camp.
Right now in the Calais camp there are still more than 5,000 undocumented people. Many more are on their way. It is the political strength and spirit of the people in transit that shakes the foundations of the ordered state and challenges the plans of government, in a way that no ‘legal’ resistance ever could.
No “better” jungle is needed, no humanitarian solution can be found. What we need is to go beyond the European rhetoric of humanitarianism because with every purely humanitarian gesture we become apologists for Europe’s colonial, racist, and never ending war against the outsider. What is needed is anti-capitalist and anarchist solidarity, the overthrow of governments and the destruction of Europe’s borders. What is needed is the regularization of status and freedom of movement for all.
We have seen seven years of camp destructions in a relentless war of attrition. We must not be fooled by or perpetuate the state’s false promises. In January, some of the camp’s inhabitants issued a statement announcing their plans to peacefully resist the eviction, and now we must show them the maximum solidarity in their struggle. CMS calls for international actions of solidarity with the people of the Jungle.
We call on people to organise urgent action now and in the coming weeks against any companies, corporations or governments, French or British which are involved in the eviction of the Jungle and facilitate the repressive operations in Calais.