Les Gilets Noirs: We are in the Airport in France

Les Gilets Noirs

“I’m here to tell you that for them we are commodities! If they give us documents they lose their business. So they must see that someone stood up. We are not balls to be kicked about, we are not children. Our struggle is not only about papers. What you have yet to see you’ll see when you fight. There is sorrow and happiness inside. Things need to become red and people need to rise to bring it out. The shame is theirs, not ours. They must stop seeing black people as blackness, but see that they have become red.”

Gassama foyer Riquet – in Paroles de n’importe qui… ou pas – May 2019 – ed. La chapelle.

At the employment fair, on the 23rd February 2019, residents of some of the 43 migrant centres of the Paris region are plotting together, along with tenants of the struggling streets:

Diakité, member of the Chapelle Debout collective:

“We rose up. We quit our everyday tasks and we stood. We, the GILETS NOIRS are now the largest movement of undocumented people in France.

The French government knows that we exist. It knows we are here and that we are organised. But it still doesn’t know what we are capable of!

We started on 23rd November 2018. It was at the Museum of Immigration. There were between 300 and 400 of us.

We continued to mobilise people until the 16th December, when we occupied the Comédie Française. That day there were 720 of us. And we opened the door of the Prefecture”… to negotiate

On 31st January, 1500 of us accompanied the delegation. The leadership did not keep their word. “We will receive you every month.” … We are still waiting. 

We asked for an end to deportations and Abou, Amadou, Samba, Tymera, Imane, Hicham have been violently deported towards Spain, Italy, Sudan and Morocco under the pretexts of the Dublin Agreements, bilateral agreements or by the pure and simple ferocity of the racist brutality of the police, judiciary, medical services.

We got organised so that many can return, so we can bring back our parents, our children, our wives, our husbands, our friends and everyone else.

In the Paris Prefecture, they dismissed us, saying: “we can’t, not our responsibility, not our remit, you’re missing this paper.”

“We’ll speak to your bosses then!”

We call for all the forces in France, Europe and beyond to support this campaign against fear and shame.

For equality, dignity, justice and their concrete implementation: Documents for all!

We must start winning again, because we have all lost too much: Documents for all!

We must stop bemoaning because we must act.

We must wait no longer.

Because we are here and we are everywhere: Documents for all!

We are against:

The OQTFs (Orders to leave France), the 115, illegal working at Elior, asbestos removal without protection, the CRAs (Immigration detention centres), Calais and Ventimille and Dublin, checks based on profiling at Aubervilliers 4 Chemins, the OFPRA (French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless People), rough sleeping, the CNDA (National Court of Asylum), Porte de la Chapelle, the refusal of AME (State Medical Aid), queuing at the prefecture or for food, the OFII (French Office of Immigration and Integration), slave driving bosses and businesses.

Papers/Documents for all!

“Immigrants have a voice and they are using it!”

“We are the freedom to move, to settle down to act. We will take it as our right. In the name of all those who did not make it here, and to save ourselves, and for all those who want to make it out here.”

PAPERS NOW!

WE ARE IN AN AIRPORT IN FRANCE

This place is, above all else, a border. A border without walls or barbed wire. Nevertheless it marks bodies.

For some Roissy Charles de Gaulle is a place for travel and consumption. Those for whom this comes easy are a minority coming from the bourgeois and/or white worlds. It’s this world that colonizes and wages war. The entrance to their fortress is the airport. It is well guarded by the military, police and cameras… In this place we also meet many of our own. Nevertheless, we don’t want to see ourselves here.

We are hidden or shut behind a curtain in the plane or underground, very close to terminal 2 in the holding area for those who are awaiting deportation…or in the basement of the four-star Ibis hotel with the blessings of the Accor company.

This place exudes racism on a planetary scale.

Those at the front pass through showing only their official documents, those at the back are threatened, handcuffed, gagged and insulted by the police

At the border, in the antechambers of the airport.

It’s from Roissy that Afghans were deported to Kabul at gunpoint, at the same time that we switched off the Eiffel Tower’s lights to commemorate the Western victims of the attacks in Kabul’s diplomatic neighbourhood on 31 May  2017.

We are here because this airport belongs to those who scrub its toilets all day long, who pack and transport suitcases for customers with red passports.

We have come to free ourselves, like others who have escaped from their prisons for foreigners in Rennes, Hendaye or Mesnil-Amelot in recent months.

We are here because the body of a 15 year-old son was found frozen, fallen from the landing gear of a plane on 8th April 2013. That was before their “migration crisis”, which every day justifies their crimes a bit more. There are no names for those they deport, they bear all of our names.

We are here for self-harm and suicide to not be the only ways to stop cops from receiving free holidays with Air France Miles.

Enough with the prison, sleeping pills, foam helmets and handcuffs!

Glory to all that managed to step off a plane, whatever methods they used! From screaming to physical resistance or tricks.

Thank you to all who refuse to sit down. To pilots who refuse to take off. To the transit helpers who give us information: “deportations on this flight”.

25 detention centres in France, over 1000 people deported in 2018 from the Mesnil-Amelot centre alone, nearby here. STOP!

Overcoming fear by coming here, with no pseudonyms or work uniforms, is our first victory.

Overcoming fear of this border is to organise against all of those who help deportation, starting with undermining Air France’s collaboration, which of all the complicit airline companies, is the official partner of the French state. They are in cahoots with Qatar Airways, Ethiopian airlines and Turkish airlines.

To Air France, official deporter of the French state, and to the Paris Airport, its guard dog,

We denounce your collaboration with the state’s practices and the business that it earns you.

We denounce the pressure exerted on your staff and on passengers who oppose the deportation: those who have been disembarked, threatened with lawsuits and forced to buy back tickets.

We denounce your role as accessories to the police and to European justice, and we declare that you bear responsibility for the treatment of non-white lives and their management as flows. You share responsibility for the murder of A. by the Border Police, of M.’s injuries and detention, of M.’s torture, injected to knock him out and stop protesting, of murder attempts on M. who you allowed to be deported when he had swallowed razor blades…

We demand to speak to the heads of Air France to:

-Stop all financial, material, logistical or political participation to deportations

-Stop its policy of retaliation and/or pressure towards in-flight staff who refuses to embark a person threatened with deportation

[Translated with permission from @chapelledebout. The original version can be found here]

I feel I am being threatened and patronised because of the protest

Yarls Wood IRC
Bedford

On the 2/3/18, I was summoned to the Legal Home Office department to meet the Immigration Enforcement Manager Fiona Quaynor, I met her in the presence of her teammate (another) home office officer. I do not recall his name but he is Indian.

I was told by Fiona I am going to be interviewed by them especially because I am on the hunger strike protest in Yarl’s Wood over Home Office injustices and unfairness. They asked me if I was fit to do the interview to which I replied it’s ok we can proceed. Fiona explained to me that the interview was being done because I had refused food and fluids and that it was Home Office procedure to carry out the interview.

The interview kicked off and a number of questions were asked:

  • Why was I hunger striking?
  • What are my demands
  • Do I have a solicitor, etc.

After answering the questions, Fiona read out to me what I considered conditions or repercussions of me being on hunger strike and asked me if I understood what she was reading out.

I was reassured that because I was on hunger strike it didn’t mean that;

  • My case would be favoured, it will take its due course
  • It will not lead to me being granted permission to stay in the UK
  • That it didn’t mean that my removal directions would be deferred
  • That it will not lead to the progress of my immigration or Asylum case being altered or delayed
  • That it will not lead to me being released.

To mention but a few, above is what I remember.

I am very upset till today that I feel I am being threatened and patronised because of the protest. It made me feel very upset, distressed and I feel sad and depressed that indirectly we/I am being punished for hunger striking and protesting. What happened to human rights, freedom of speech and expression? Should we just keep quiet when we are not happy and pretend like everything is alright?

Is it because I am a prisoner that cannot speak out and air out my opinions and views? Is this how Britain welcomes immigrants? This is very unfair to us and I hope one day that this country, Home Office and government will protect vulnerable immigrants and refugees.

All I need is to be safe from my pursuits from my family in Uganda, it has not been a safe journey in my life especially since coming out that I am gay, but now I feel I am being punished by the one country that should give me protection. I cannot return to my country for fear of my life, it’s one of the top countries that prosecute LGBTQ people.

I am already feeling scared, frightened and I am always under the weather for being rejected by my husband’s family, community, workmates and friends. I fear for my dear life on a daily.

So trying to patronise me because I am protesting for a change that directly affects makes me feel even more anxious and angry every day.

In most questions, I told the Home Office they have a right to do whatever they want to do because I cannot control them and neither do I make their policies. I just pray for fairness and justice to prevail when it comes to my case. I lean on the hope in God that never disappoints. Only God knows destiny, no man can change what God has planned for me.

No matter what happens, let me be remembered as a Uganda Detainee that was fighting for the vulnerable and mistreated asylum seekers.

One day we shall all rest and leave this wicked world, God is in charge of our lives, Home Office can decide and throw us back in the den of lions but God shall save us.

In Healthcare, I was asked to sign a document that take away the duty of care of my health from Healthcare.

The Doctor asked me to sign so Healthcare doesn’t have to be liable for my health.

“In case any health hazard happens to you, maybe you faint or at the verge of death, if you can sign the document, we shall not touch you.”  In other words, I will have to die and healthcare, Serco and Home Office will not be liable. I refused to sign. Where is the humanity and compassion from these people that are meant to take care of us. It’s ridiculous and very frustrating.

Currently I am still on hunger strike and eating snow as I feel that’s all I want to eat right now. I am angry I feel I am not wanted in this country, let the Home Office and the Home Secretary kill me here in the UK, than returning me to a death trap in Uganda.

 

We are on a hunger strike because we are suffering unfair imprisonment and racist abuse in this archaic institution in Britain.

While I cannot speak for every detainee in Yarl’s Wood I can tell you that our group of protesters who are participating in the hunger for freedom strike are of mixed backgrounds and religions but we all have one thing in common, We are detained INDIFINITELY! and we are refusing food because we are DESPERATE at the treatment we endure by the HOME OFFICE, not because of religious beliefs but rather fundamental ethics regarding our rights as HUMAN BEINGS.

We feel voiceless, forgotten and ignored.

This is a desperate measure due to desperate circumstances.

One of our group was called to see a home official on Tuesday and that same official asked her “why don’t you go back to your country” she has an asylum case pending.

It does not surprise me hear this as I believe there are many xenophobes working here, and while we were talking about it amongst ourselves a Serco manager walked past and heard one of our repeat this phrase and blurted out “that’s a good idea”.

We are on a hunger strike because we are suffering unfair imprisonment and racist abuse in this archaic institution in Britain.

 

Sorry if this sounds a little incoherent but it’s my fourth day without food.

Hello from Yarl’s Wood

Hello from Yarl’s Wood

Mixed feelings about today,

It’s good that the ladies feel like they have achieved something and I do too in a way.

The Home Office officials refused to talk to us as a group but we stood our ground. The directors strong armed them into it and they did eventually talk to us, although they did not really say anything worth listening to. Just things like our detention is lawful (doesn’t feel like it) and they don’t detain asylum seekers and torture victims, but I can tell you this place would be more or less empty without them. We demanded to know how they can justify detaining people indefinitely and they said each case is different and judged individually, so when I said that there isn’t a pattern and it seems like a universal response from the home office they claimed that we would see a pattern because they have grounds to detain us. But let me tell you there is no pattern in the circumstances of detainees, only the reasons given by the home office.

They refused to state that rape is torture and said “no comment” on that matter. It can be summed up as talking to a brick wall like every other occasion I’ve had to speak with an immigration officer.

Then she passed a piece a paper around and insisted we write our names on it so “they could reply in writing to our demands”.

But we all know this was a scare tactic to make people apprehensive and worry about their individual cases. I was so touched when not only everyone who had sat there wrote their names but the ladies prevented from coming where we were [the home office department] and sat in the corridor instead, insisted on writing their names.

I feel pressure to help the ladies which I put on myself, even before this protest I felt the same when I see people struggle with their paperwork or even when they don’t know where to go for something or just when I see someone crying I stop and ask if they are ok. Some people are in such a bad way and they react badly but that’s ok because the way I see it I might have been the only person to speak to them that day, and I know they just miss their families or they have serious psychological issues, I feel sorry for people.

A manager told me last week that I should concentrate on my case and be more selfish as I might feel better if I stop taking on people’s problems. He might have a point but I can’t help but have empathy and maybe that’s why I could never do a job like his. I empathise with people regardless of the colour of their skin, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and political beliefs. To me people are people, and we all want the same things on a human level. We want to feel safe, we want to love and be loved, and we want to feel accepted.

I’m getting emotional now and not sure what I’m writing about anymore I think the lack of caffeine and food is having an effect on my ability to concentrate, god knows I’ll be talking absolute gibberish tomorrow x x x

Thank you all for your support we appreciate it x x  👍👍😊😊👣

Hungry foreigner Made in Britain

Messages from the peaceful protest

There are currently 18 people staging a peaceful cit in protest outside the home office department in Yarl’s Wood, some have been prevented from the sit in by a prison lock down.


A Home Office official just walked past us and asked if we are having a party, the home office workers know we are on a hunger strike but they keep walking past with their lunches.


The Home Office must talk to us as a group, we wont be divided.


More people are joining the sit in throughout the centre, including 14 men from the family wing of the prison.

 

I am involved in the hunger strike

I am involved in the hunger strike because I think we face very unfair conditions in that we are detained for an indefinite amount time. The uncertainty that we face everyday is unbearable which leads us to have stress, panic, and in turn a lot of health complication. This is the reason why we decided to go forward collectively with this hunger strike. Even though many of us have health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes we have nevertheless persisted to continue the hunger strike because we want the public to know what we face and make sure there is a change in policy.

We have been detained without notice. Young girls after having turned 18 are sent into detention centres. People who hold short term visas are sometimes sent straight from the airport to the detention centres. Many of us have our cases which are running but the Home Office still sends us tickets to go back home which gives us a lot of stress. Today, 3 girls were given tickets to go back to India. One of them is due to leave on Monday. Her case is running and yet she is given a ticket. What can she do— she only has 2 more days. Even when we try to pave our own path by asking for bail or temporary release we are always refused. They just do not allow us to do make our own attempts through legal paths— they are always impeding. They do not allow is to get work permits outside but make us work for £1 an hour or £3 for a day. It’s very unfair.

Today when Diane Abott came to visit us, we gave her a list of demands on behalf of the women of YW. She looked at them and told us she would make sure that something would happen. She told us that she would take this to the Parliament and make sure that the detention is reduced to 28 days and no longer be indefinite. We have hope but we will still continue with the hunger strike so that something will definitely be done.