Friday, 26 June 2009

Why Let The Facts Spoil A Good Story (Again)?

Yes the Daily Mail is at it again, pedalling lies and reactionary propaganda. In a story entitled "Police arrest 47 anarchists threatening to lead swarms of illegal migrants through Channel tunnel to Britain", this right-wing rag has sought to create yet another non-story out of half-truths and innuendo.

Lets take the lies and half-truths one by one:
1. The headline clearly implies that 47 people were caught in the act of trying to tear down the fences at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel. FACT - 29 of the 30 people blockading Losquin CRE in Lille (60 miles/95 km from Calais) with 29 being detained.
2. "Weapons including machetes, metal poles and a spiked club were found hidden by the activists during raids in Calais late on Wednesday." 3 people were detained at the train station for carrying camping equipment! If one goes camping one normally takes tent poles (metal poles with a spike), a mallet (club with no spikes) to drive in tent pegs and of course a knife as either cutlery or for those essentials like slicing apples or getting stones out of horses' hooves. They were later released after having the knives confiscated and being charged with minor 'common law' charges.
3. One woman was arrested for shoplifting and was later released.
4. Of the other 13 people arrested, all were for 'common law' offences which the police refuse to specify. 5 remain in custody on, as yet, unknown charges.

No one was arrested anywhere near the Channel Tunnel entrance.

5. No Borders is a transnational network of groups and activists across the world who struggle for the freedom of movement and equal rights for all people and fight against all immigration controls. It is not a single group.
6. Neither is No Borders an anarchist organisation. If you have to label us as part of you attempts to marginalise us, we are part of the anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist spectrum and our views are shared by many who are not in a No Borders group.
7. The Camp is not "aimed at helping the migrants to ‘tear down the borders’ to England."
8. There have been no "email threats by protesters pledging to destroy wire fences and other security measures around the Channel Tunnel." This is a fabrication.
9. There have been no "threats to burn ‘symbols of capitalism’ including local government offices, and even hotels run by prominent global chains."
10. Police intelligence is an oxymoron and has not "revealed plans for wide scale violence".
11. The views of Sarkozy and Bouchart are not "heartily supported by the militants organising the ‘No Border’ demonstrations." They are a pair of reactionary, right-wing ideologues. One is directly responsible for the increased repression of the migrants in Calais, the routine tear-gassing of them as they sleep in the 'Jungles', the routine harassment and beating they endure, the daily arrests and detention. In fact it was he who was key to bringing about the end of the Red Cross humanitarian effort at the Sangatte camp in 2002. The other has tried at every turn to put barriers in the way of the current efforts of groups like Belle Etoile and Salam to provide humanitarian aid to the migrants in Calais. She has also sought to demonise the No Border Camp and to prevent it from ever happening. It is an insult to even suggest that No Borders has anything in common with them.

The truth is Calais is under siege from hundreds of CRS riots police who constantly stop and search anyone who even vaguely looks as if they may be associated with the Camp. And the local population are getting very pissed off with the whole thing. If you have black clothes, are wearing a hoodie, have badges on your clothes, look like a punk or have piercings you are a target. So, to an extent, both the campers and some of the locals are getting just a small taste of what the migrants do through daily throughout the year.

And the Camp members are not even allowed to hand out the free Camp newspaper Nomade. Yesterday about 30 campers left for the centre of town to had out copies to shoppers and 25 were handcuffed and detained for an hour whilst ID checks were carried out. This is harassment pure and simple.

The authorities, in the guise of Pierre de Bousquet de Florian (the préfet of Pas-de-Calais) and Jean-Philippe Joubert (the Boulogne-sur-Mer prosecutor), have clearly decided that not only protest but any form of peaceful assembly is banned for the duration even if they cannot enforce that under the law. Instead they are just going to make it so painful for the campers that they will never think about coming back to Calais ever again!

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