About 200 people took part in a pro-migrant demonstration in the French city of Calais. The protesters started their march near the migrant camp and then continued to fences along the beaches of Calais. The protesters demanded that France and Great Britain comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which enables people to travel around the world and change their places of residence. They dedicated their march to those migrants who died in their attempts to cross the channel. Twelve migrants died this year in their attempts to reach the UK, getting run over by vehicles in the Eurotunnel, killed by currents on the decks or in other various incidences.
“People who survived in wars and prisons in other continents die in Calais”, “human rights are violated on the French-British border” and “no to borders and deportation” read the banners of the activists.
“Why do they have to risk their lives before they risk asylum when they are in Europe? It, you know, it doesn't make any sense,” Maia, one of the protesters and a volunteer at NGO l'Auberge des migrants told Ruptly news agency.
More than 500 people, according to Ruptly video agency estimates, took part in the demonstration just outside the walls of the UK immigration detention centre, Yarl’s Wood, lobbying to shut it down. Detainees waved white clothes from behind the fencing in support. They wrote “SOS” on windowpanes, notes stating "we are not animals." Some of the protesters sprayed graffiti on the walls of the center, others kicked or attempted to climb the security fences. They chanted slogans such as “shut it down,”“no human is illegal” and held signs reading “your blood is our blood, your fight is our fight, your victory is our victory.”
“Yarl’s Wood detention center is the central battleground in the fight for the rights of women and immigrant rights in Britain. It is the site of the most consistent and sustained struggle against the racism and inhumanity of immigration detention,” the Movement for Justice, which organized the mass action, said in a statement. “Our struggle is an inspiration to everyone who wants to see real action for justice and freedom and a real fight against racism, the divide-and-rule scapegoating of immigrants, and the politics of endless austerity,” it added. The demonstration has been the fourth since April.
Despite having no criminal charges, they are being held at the center, which promises to ensure that its residents “feel that they are being heard, something that is of high priority to the staff”. The duration of the stay at the center could be indefinite, as the UK is the only EU member that has no time limit on detention. During its 14 years of operation, it has been home to numerous hunger strikes, several deaths, and reports of sexual and racial abuse.