Calais refugees attacked with rubber bullets

This video from London, England says about itself:

Developers board up new Banksy criticising Calais ‘Jungle’ teargas treatment

25 January 2016

Banksy has created a new artwork criticising the tactics used in The Jungle refugee camp in Calais – but it was covered up with wood shortly after developers discovered it. The latest mural was drawn opposite the French Embassy in Knightsbridge, west London, and depicts the young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears streaming from her eyes as a can of CS gas lies beneath her. The artwork includes an interactive QR code which, when scanned, links to a video of teargas and rubber bullets allegedly used in a police raid on migrants and refugees in the camp on January 5.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

French cops ‘use rubber bullets on Calais refugees

Thursday 4th February 2016

FRENCH police are using tear gas and rubber bullets against refugees living in the notorious Jungle camp outside Calais.

Manchester-based Refugee and Asylum Participator Action Research (Rapar), which has visited the camp to deliver vital humanitarian aid, released evidence of the attacks yesterday.

The camp contains 6,000 refugees living in appalling conditions of mud and squalor. Refugees in the Jungle sent some of the visiting groups photographic evidence of the injuries inflicted by police, including pictures of spent baton rounds.

Rapar member Rhetta Moran said: “Mohammed, an Afghan father of a toddler girl, sent Rapar photographs of rubber bullet wounds that he described as sustained by Calais refugee camp residents.”

Labour MEP Julie Ward has visited the camp, where French riot police tried to prevent her from getting in.

She said: “The use of tear gas, rubber bullets and physical force, such as I experienced, is insupportable when dealing with people who are dispossessed.

“The refugees should be protected from the extreme right-wing who lurk on the fringes of the camp, and vulnerable camp inhabitants should be given the humanitarian assistance they need.”

London-based Umjum Mirza, an assistant branch secretary of train drivers’ union Aslef, also visited the camp.

“We need to learn the lessons of history and let the refugees into Britain immediately,” he said.

French government violates human rights

This video says about itself:

Thousands rally in Paris to protest against state of emergency extension

30 January 2016

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of the French capital, to protest against the extension of the state of emergency in France, and its inclusion in the Constitution. The state of emergency outlines measures to reinforce house arrests and the searching of properties, and accelerates the procedures of dissolution, most notably, of radical Salafist mosques. It was first put in place by President François Hollande in the wake of Paris attacks on November 13, and was extended for an initial three-month period.

From Amnesty International:

France: Disproportionate emergency measures leave hundreds traumatized

4 February 2016

Heavy-handed emergency measures, including late night house raids and assigned residence orders, have trampled on the rights of hundreds of men, women and children, leaving them traumatized and stigmatized, according to a new briefing released by Amnesty International today ahead of Friday’s French parliamentary debate on entrenching emergency measures in the constitution.

Upturned lives: The disproportionate impact of France’s state of emergency details how, since the state of emergency was declared shortly after the 13 November 2015 Paris attacks, more than 3,242 house searches have been conducted and more than 400 assigned residence orders imposed. Most of the 60 people Amnesty International interviewed said that harsh measures were applied with little or no explanation and sometimes excessive force. One woman said that armed police burst into her house late at night as she minded her three-year old child. Other people told Amnesty International that the stigma of being searched had caused them to lose their jobs.

“While governments can use exceptional measures in exceptional circumstances, they must do so with caution. The reality we have seen in France is that sweeping executive powers, with few checks on their use, have generated a range of human rights violations. It is difficult to see how the French authorities can possibly argue that they represent a proportionate response to the threats they face,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

Many of those interviewed by Amnesty International, since it began documenting cases shortly after the three-month state of emergency was instigated, said that they received almost no information showing how they were implicated in any security threats. The intelligence files presented in court have contained little information to substantiate claims that individuals represent a threat to public order. Many have struggled to challenge the restrictions imposed on them as a result.

Ivan said that the 40 police officers who in November raided his Parisian suburb restaurant, as men, women and children were eating supper, were unnecessarily heavy-handed.

“They told everyone to put their hands on the table, then they searched everywhere for about 35 minutes. They forced open three doors. I told them I had the keys, I could have opened the doors for them, but they ignored me,” he told Amnesty International researchers.

“What really struck me is that, on the basis of the search order, they thought they could have found some people who constituted a public threat in my restaurant. However, they did not check the ID of any of the 60 clients who were there.” No further action was taken against Ivan.

Emergency measures have had a significant impact on the human rights of the people targeted. Some have lost their jobs. Almost all were left with stress and anxiety.

Issa and his wife Samira’s house was searched on 4 December on the unspecified grounds that he was a “radical Islamist”. Although the police never pursued any criminal investigation against Issa and Samira, they copied all data on Issa’s computer, imposed a nightly curfew on Issa, obliged him to report three times a day to a police station and not leave the town he lives in. He had to turn down a job as a delivery man as a result and has spent most of his savings on legal fees.

People told Amnesty International that house searches had caused fear, stress and other health-related issues.

“I don’t sleep well anymore and if someone speaks loudly I tremble,” Fahima told Amnesty International after police with firearms had burst into her house in the middle of the night as she was minding their three-year-old child.

Most of those interviewed by Amnesty International for the report said that the current emergency measures are implemented in a discriminatory manner, specifically targeting Muslims, often on the basis of their beliefs and religious practices rather than any concrete evidence of criminal behaviour.

Several mosques and prayer rooms have also been shut down by French authorities since the Paris attacks. One such mosque in Lagny-sur-Marne near Paris was shut down despite police reports indicating that “no element justifying the opening of an investigation has been found”.

“If there are allegations against one or two people, why don’t they target them specifically? Why do they target a whole community? There are about 350 Muslims in Lagny who are now left with no place to worship,” the president of the mosque and three organizations dissolved by the authorities told Amnesty International.

The emergency measures in France have come at great cost to people’s human rights, but yielded few tangible results, calling into question the proportionality of the measures. According to media reports, the 3,242 raids carried out in the past month have resulted in only four criminal investigations for terrorism-related offences and 21 investigations under the vague ‘apologie du terrorisme’ provision. A further 488 investigations resulting from these raids were for unrelated criminal offences.

“It is all too easy to make general claims about a terrorism-related threat requiring the adoption of emergency powers. However, the French government needs to demonstrate unambiguously that a state of emergency still exists and parliamentarians should scrutinise this claim carefully. Even if satisfied on this count, meaningful safeguards need to be restored to prevent the abusive, disproportionate and discriminatory use of emergency measures.”

See also here.

French African Caribbean minister fed up with racist authoritarian prime minister

Christiane Taubira blows a kiss as she leaves a 2014 meeting at the Elysee Palace, Reuters photo

From the BBC:

French Minister Christiane Taubira resigns amid terror row

53 minutes ago

The French justice minister has resigned, blaming a “major political disagreement” with her government.

Christiane Taubira stepped down from her job shortly before anti-terrorism proposals that she disagreed with went before parliament.

If passed, the laws would mean that people who are convicted of terrorism offences are stripped of citizenship.

The plans were put forward after the 13 November Paris attacks in which 130 people were murdered.

“I left the government over a major political disagreement,” Ms Taubira said.

“I am choosing to be true to myself, to my commitments, my battles and my relationships with other people.”

Many of the Islamist militants who carried out attacks in France and have joined the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group have had dual citizenship.

Ms Taubira was among several figures on the left who objected to the government’s proposals because they singled out those with dual nationality.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls presented the revised article of the constitution to parliament, ahead of a debate scheduled to start in early February.

State of emergency

France has been under a state of emergency since the night of the Paris attacks. It allows suspects to be placed under house arrest and for meetings or demonstrations to be banned.

A high court ruled on Wednesday that the state of emergency can continue. A human rights group had challenged plans for its extension, but the judge said “imminent danger” had not gone away. The ruling was made in the Council of State, France’s highest administrative court.

Patrice Spinosi, the lawyer for the League for Human Rights, told the French newspaper Le Monde that the persistence of an “unidentified threat” was not enough justification for continuing the state of emergency.

Prime Minister Valls has previously told the BBC that the state of emergency should remain in place “for as long as necessary”.

Racist taunts

One of France’s few senior black politicians, Christiane Taubira, 63, has been replaced by Jean-Jacques Urvoas who is seen as a supporter of the constitutional change and an ally of Prime Minister Valls.

Born in French Guiana, Ms Taubira has suffered racist taunts from the far-right during her time as justice minister.

Her left-wing leanings have put her increasingly at odds with official policy, especially after the November attacks when the president announced a much tougher line on terrorism, BBC Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield reports. …

Darling of the left, by Hugh Schofield, BBC News Paris

President Hollande is going to miss Christiane Taubira because she performed a vital role in his government. Every time he took a move to the right, or was accused of doing so, he could point to his justice minister and say: “Don’t worry, Christiane’s still with me.”

She was his left-wing shield, and he kept her in office to ward off attacks from inside the Socialists over his increasingly pro-business economic policies, and (since November) his tough new line on terror.

Taubira was the darling of the left. Pugnacious and outspoken, she saw through the gay marriage law, and promoted a liberal line on police and sentencing. By the same token, the right despised her and there is now much rejoicing in their ranks.

In the end, President Hollande could no longer pull off the act of political splits which allowed his government to include such mutually hostile forces as Manuel Valls (on the right) and Taubira (on the left).

The times being as they are, it was the left-winger who went.

Last month the justice minister made plain her distaste of the plan to strip citizens with dual nationality of their French citizenship, arguing it “would not help the fight against terrorism in any way“. …

The government aims to extend the three-month state of emergency imposed after the November attacks when it expires on 26 February.

Why the resignation of France’s justice minister strikes at the heart of French values: here.

Ex-Calais ‘jungle’ refugees welcomed in London

Supporters arrive in Kings Cross, London, England to welcome four Syrian refugees arriving from Calais

From the Bailiwick Express in Jersey, Channel islands today:

Syrian refugees reunited with families in London after landmark legal case

9 hours ago

Four Syrian refugees who won a landmark legal case to come to Britain from “The Jungle” in Calais have been reunited with their families in London.

Relatives, some carrying babies and young children, smiled as they were let through to greet their loved ones for the first time in months behind closed doors at King’s Cross station.

Around 100 people, many holding home-made banners or balloons with the words “refugees welcome” scrawled on them, descended on the station to welcome the arrivals.

The refugees – three teenagers and a 26-year-old man with severe mental health issues – travelled to the UK after a British court ruled on Wednesday that they should be immediately brought across the Channel from the makeshift refugee camp in northern France.

Before they arrived, the brother of one of the refugees told the Press Association he could not wait to be reunited with his younger sibling, who he has not seen for nearly two years.

Ahmed, who is not using his real name in order to protect his brother’s identity, said: “The first thing I’m going to do is hug him and not let him go.

“He is the youngest in my family and I haven’t seen him in a long time.

“It is hard to describe how happy I felt when I heard the court’s ruling yesterday. It was really, really amazing. It was everything I was waiting for.”

Their arrival follows a pioneering legal case in which lawyers used human rights legislation to argue the four refugees should be immediately brought to Britain and their asylum claims processed here – effectively bypassing the French authorities.

They argued that conditions in the sprawling camp were “intolerable” and that bureaucratic delays in France meant their cases should be handed over to the UK, where they all have relatives legally living.

Ahmed said his brother, who has seen other refugees die trying to make the perilous journey from Calais to Britain, was so bowled over by the court’s decision he was in disbelief.

He said: “He was in huge disbelief. He could not believe it was actually going to happen.

“A lot of people in Calais said ‘this is not going to work’. He just felt like he was in a dream. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He is in shock – but in a good way.”

After enduring years of fighting and bombs, Ahmed, 26, fled his hometown of Daraa in 2014 and travelled across Europe to Britain.

He hid in the back of a freezing cold lorry carrying tomatoes to make the final leg of the journey from Calais to Dover.

He left his brother with his parents, but as the fighting intensified his brother also decided to make the dangerous journey across Europe and to be reunited with his brother in Britain.

Arriving first in Turkey and then crossing through European countries he did not even know the name of, his brother eventually ended up in Calais last October.

But conditions at “The Jungle” were so bad he considered turning back to Syria.

Ahmed, who now lives in London with his wife, two year-old daughter and newborn son, was sporadically in touch with his brother by phone.

He told the Press Association: “There were times when he would say ‘I want to go back to Syria’.

“My brother didn’t imagine he would be living in such conditions in a European country. He was shocked.

“He thought he would find safety.

“That was how desperate he got, it was so unbearable in Calais. But I told him to be patient.”

Ahmed, who was a driver in Syria, said he is grateful to be in Britain and ecstatic his brother will be reunited with him here.

He said his brother hopes to return to the studies which the war in Syria so brutally interrupted.

Ahmed said: “He wants to be a lawyer so he can help people like the way people helped him.”

Oona Chaplin, who stars in Game Of Thrones and is Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter, has been to Calais several times and thrown her support behind the campaign to bring the Syrians to Britain.

She said: “My heart swells at the thought of these three families coming together again after all they have been through.

“These kids are now our precious teachers, we must all learn with them the art of compassion, kindness and forgiveness, so that we can heal these wounds together.

“May all children everywhere in the world feel the spark of hope that has been ignited with this reunion.”

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Young Syria refugees given warm welcome

Friday 22nd January 2016

THREE children and a teenager from Syria whom a court ordered be brought to Britain from Calais’s refugee camp arrived last night in London to a welcome rally from supporters.

Refugees Welcome campaigners assembled on Kings Cross Square in the late afternoon to cheer on the boys and the 19-year-old man.

“The current situation, in which refugees are relying on the help of thousands of volunteers from the UK, is intolerable,” London2Calais spokesman Syed Bokhari told the Star.

“By refusing to offer a proper procedure to apply for asylum in the UK, the British government is directly responsible for the refugee crisis in Calais and the deaths of people like 15-year-old Masud, who died just last week.

“Masud was on our list of contacts and would have had the right to apply for asylum in the UK.

“It is time to hold the government accountable for its human rights violations.”

Britain ‘poised to open door to thousands of migrant children’. David Cameron considering calls by charities as Jeremy Corbyn, who on Saturday visited refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk, urges emergency steps: here.

Syrian ex-Calais ‘jungle’ refugees welcomed in Britain

Welcome party greets Syrian refugees given permission to leave Calais and join family in UK

From ITV in Britain:

21 January 2016 at 7:28pm

Syrian youths granted permission to leave Calais and join family in UK

This is the moment four young Syrian men whooped and hugged each other in celebration after a new ruling granted them permission to travel from Calais to the UK to join family members already living here.

ITV News was there in Calais as the men, three of which are teenagers and the fourth a dependent adult, were told the news that British immigration judges had ruled they should be allowed to join their siblings in the UK.

The men, who have not been identified, first sought asylum in France but have been allowed to travel to the UK after their lawyers successfully argued the case for them to join their relatives.

Under EU asylum rules refugees are obliged to seek asylum in the first country in which they arrive.

Clearly delighted at being told they could come to UK and leave behind the so-called “Calais jungle” migrant camp behind the men said they were happy to be leaving the “dreadful” conditions they had been living in.

ITV News Security Editor Rohit Kachroo spoke to them after they heard the news.

Following the ruling that the men can join family members in Britain it is expected there could be as many as 200 more refugees and migrants in Calais who will now want to apply for asylum in the UK on similar grounds.K