National Sections of the L5I:

French riot police attack refugee camp

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

Image Amid cheers by the racist media, desperate refugees have been attacked by police and detained at a makeshift camp in Northern France, reports Mark Booth

The attack on the refugee camp near Calais by French riot police is a chilling reminder of the brutal nature of Fortress Europe. The migrant camp, known as “The Jungle” was home to around 900 migrants and refugees, most of whom were from Afghanistan. They had come to Calais in the hope of claiming asylum in the UK due to the terrible conditions in their home country, caused by the Nato occupation. In response to the actions of the French police the Daily Express tabloid newspaper in Britain published a front page with the headline “Britain’s full”, a clear incitement against all immigrants and refugees trying to come to Britain.

Image"The Jungle" is part of a disused industrial zone called the Dunes, a short walk from the ferry port, where migrants and refuges were forced to make tents and makeshift huts out of plastic sheeting after being denied accommodation by the local government council.

On the morning of the police attack the camp was bravely defended by several migrant rights demonstrators, who scuffled with the police as they tried to defend the refugees from eviction. After a few hours 278 refugees were detained by the police, half of them children.

Image The razing of the camp, cheered on by the right-wing press and Labour ministers in Britain, is a clear example of the ruling classes hypocrisy and inability to deal humanely with the social crises they create. The vast majority of the refugees fled following the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and the resulting devastation and impoverishment.

The camp was built by desperate refugees after the official Red Cross centre at Sangatte was closed down in 2002. This centre was targeted by the right wing press in Britain and France and eventually forced to close, accused of being a staging ground for attempts to enter Britain by “Asylum cheats” and “illegal immigrants”.

British ministers couldn’t stop themselves on various radio and TV shows, expressing their total approval on the police attack. Alan Johnson was delighted at the “swift and decisive action” taken by the French state. Phil Woolas said he totally supported the actions of the police. Woolas argued that Asylum seekers should only claim asylum in the first country that they arrive in, regardless of whether they speak the language of another country or have friends or relatives living elsewhere.

Image The government is trying to use the fear of immigration to divide the working class, to make people blame impoverished Afghan refugees instead of the out of control bankers and capitalists for unemployment.

Socialists defend the free movement of people, even if they wish to emigrate for ‘economic reasons’ and not just for asylum. Britain is one of the richest countries in the world, a wealth that is based on theft and exploitation, and even invasion of the third world. We defend the right of people to live and work where they choose. We reject the claim that Britain is full. What is needed is a rational division of housing and jobs for all, something that capitalism cannot provide.

As the French protesters chanted "No borders, no nations, stop deportations!"