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Macron starves the migrants

19 Juillet 2017, 09:45am

Joffrey Peno

While French president intends to force the media to a fake communication upon the reality of his politics towards migrants, queers, trans, faggots, bi and dykes activists replied this morning on the image battlefield by hanging a gigantic banner in the heart of Paris, on the Pont des Arts, across Paris-plage, with the Eiffel tower as a background. The banner denounces in English with crude terms what the presidential communication dissimulates:

Macron starves the migrants
 

Following up with their action against the presence of the president's party during the Pride March on June 24th, activists from Claq choose to:

- make visible the contestations against the government's policy as a way to break through the silent passivity that comes along and on which it relies ;

- shout out to the public opinion, national as well as international, and call them as witnesses ;

- confirm the lively solidarities towards the migrants.


 

You will find in this press release: the flyer distributed during the action and a reminder of the facts, which can aid your articles:

1 The abuses committed by French law enforcement against migrants.

2 The racist attitudes at the heart of the French state.

3 A critical view of the plan announced by the government.

Macron starves and persecutes migrants !

(flyer distributed during the action)

As Queers, faggots, dykes, and Trans, we stand in solidarity with migrants. We denounce the racist and inhumane policies of Emmanuel Macron towards migrants, which enforce an imperialist and capitalist system.

Tracked by law enforcement at the borders, in Paris, Calais, Menton, and elsewhere, the migrants are denied their basic needs, unable to eat, drink, sleep, shower, contact a lawyer, or even receive medical attention. The migrants are victims of repeated attacks on their fundamental rights and human dignity, which drains them physically and mentally and further adds to the long list of traumas they have faced, preventing them from asserting their rights.

Unaccompanied minors are also victimized in this crisis: treated illegally as adults despite their young age, they are being refused the help that France owes them, and in certain situations are being deported.

The first minister and the minister of the interior Gerard Collomb maintain an anti-migrant position, further illustrated by his most recent "asylum plan". His plan to "dissuade migration" is directly inspired by the far right.Founded upon a false dichotomy between political refugees and economic migrants, his plan doesn't provide a solution for the migrants currently in France who lack shelter, instead he proposes to open a woefully insufficient number of new housing for migrants, reinforces deportations, and further endangers migrants moving through the country.

People continue to die every year while attempting to cross the Mediterranean, but Macron intends to maintain positions that are responsible for this disaster.

The racist group 'generation identitaire' expressed support for the policies and the political positions of Gerard Collomb, and financed protests against NGO's looking to save migrants from drowning, without any reprisal from the French state.

Compliant with far-right groups and at times even taking elements from their rhetoric, Macron and Collomb have shown themselves to be hostile and contemptuous of humanitarian organizations and defenders of migrant’s rights. Once the propaganda is stripped away, the reality that we wish to remind Parisians, tourists, and international media outlets, is simple:

Macron starves and persecutes migrants. 

We demand the welcoming of all undocumented migrants, an end to inhumane, and cruel policies imposed by Macrons imperialist and Neo-colonial France, a repeal of the Dublin 2 regulation, an end to the discussions of Dublin 3, and a respect for international conventions concerning the protection of children and minors.

We demand, immediately, that Macron stops starving and persecuting migrants, that he instead opens spaces that welcome and permanently lodge migrants, providing a real coverage of legal, social, and medical expenses in welcoming spaces staffed by trained workers, where migrants can assert their rights.

1/ Abuses against migrants by French authorities

A Various and concordant testimonies

The facts have been well documented and reported by numerous associations and collectives including L'Auberge des migrants, Médecins du Monde, le Baam, La Cimade. In a petition built upon their experiences with migrants, 470 organizations point out that "the repressive management of international migration and non-compliance with rights to asylum, which prevails in most European countries, and France in particular, have proven to be a terrible failure". Which raises the following question: "Does our conception of justice take into account that activists are being harassed and criminalized, or that food distribution is being prohibited by municipal bylaw?".

Some of the associations testimonies have been confirmed by photographs and videos.

The revelations of these associations have been confirmed by the Rights Defender, who calls the State to consider the situation of migrants in Calais or Menton.

On the 27th of June 2017, the administrative tribunal indicated that “it is not possible to leave people without assistance when they are in a state of total depletion, they cannot be denied the aid which they have the legal right to access, in the hopes that they will eventually get tired and decide to leave somewhere else”, demanding that the State implement 10 new measures which include the creation of “several places of water distribution, showers, and provision of other social needs”. The state appealed this decision. President Macron, through this legal action, is leaving migrants without food, water, and shelter, and encourage law enforcement to continue to pursue and persecute them.

The prefecture of Pas de Calais, a state administration following Macrons policies, denies these testimonies and keeps endorsing these police practices

B Eating, Drinking, Sleeping, and Health

In Calais, the police headquarters and the mayor banned organisations from distributing food and water. The migrants are prevented from showing because of police controls. L’Auberge des migrants recently revealed that the water and food that this organization distributes to migrants in Calais was poisoned by law enforcement.

With the tracking of migrants in mind, the repressive operations are multiplying. This winter, Parisian policemen tore away blankets from migrants sleeping outside. In front of the "humanitarian" center, stony blocks were constructed toprevent the migrants from sleeping there.

In the 18eme district byLa Chapelle, the migrants hide in building hallways and parking lots to escape the raids. They are regularly woken up by bats and teargas. Recently, Calais law enforcement swept a migrant tent in a forest at dawn and placed its occupants in a CRA (administrative detention center).

Throughout all this, viral infections, tuberculosis, STD’s (among which the HIV and the hepatitis), count among the most widely spread infections. Physical and psychological traumas often lived in their country or during the journeys require medical attention. Migrants and publichealth are sacrificed in the name of repression. In the conditions evoked above, the access to healthcare is very difficult, and the follow-up even more. There is almost no psychological consultation for people who are victims of trauma. Finally, Médecins du Monde recently testified about an interruption of a mobile medical consultation by law enforcement in Calais.

C Blocking of their rights

     
        The procedure for asylum-seekers

To apply for asylum in France, asylum seekers have to prove that they fled persecutions on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, belonging to a certain social group (including gender and sexual orientation, women) or their political beliefs. To do this, they have to write a narrative of their life, in which they tell why they are fleeing from in their country. Following this narrative, an interview with an OFPRA officer takes place. This officer asks questions to prove the truthfulness of the story. The questions asked are often very intimate, and bring up painful memories. Current delays and waiting periods exceed the legal ones (between 6 months and a year). As a result, asylum seekers wait for the outcome in very precarious situations with ne guarantees or even information from the relevant institutions.

In reality, a denial of rights

In the overloaded centers, the social follow-up is very complicated, even almost non-existent. How to ensure a proper follow_up of this complex procedure with neither time nor means dedicated?

In Paris, to mitigate the setting upof street camps, the City as well as the prefecture decided to create a "humanitarian" reception center. This center, besides being undersized, is sorting out the migrants according to administrative criteria planned by the Dublin 3 policy; and by doing has become an obstacle to the right of asylum. The implementation of the CESA (assessment center of administrative situations) takes care of the fingerprints, allowing for the migrants dubliné - are, with the aim of potentially dismissing them to another country (Italy, Hungary, Norway). The Dublin 3 policy obliges the migrant to make its application for asylum in the first country in which they gave their fingerprints. The CESA (assessment center of administrative situations) within the “humanitarian” reception center in Paris the CESA (assessment center of administrative situations) takes care of the fingerprints,.Very often, the migrants are forced to give their fingerprints unwillingly in countries where they arrived without necessarily wanting to stay. Macron and Collomb seek to immortalize this Dublin 3 procedure in which France participates though it insufficiently welcomes migrants, with arbitrary police and administrative practices, and restricts people from obtaining their right to asylum.

France goes even further in this illegality. At the French-Italian border, in the city of Chin, prefabricated homes were installed to capture the migrants who arrived in the middle of the night and dismiss the following morning. This practice is illegal because every dismissal must be made following a judicial decision. And this adds to the racism that migrants undergo at the borders. No Head of State or member of government envisions an end to these illegal practices.

The situation for the unaccompanied minors

They are under the responsibility of the department. In Paris, it is Red Cross which provides their care: the DEMIE (plan of evaluation of foreign isolated minors) is in charge of assessing their age. Because of this arbitrary practice of underage assessment, many children find themselves in the streets of Paris, dropped off alone, because they are not recognized as minors and have no access to adequate care.

Sometimes, osseous tests are asked upon a judicial decision. The osseous tests are an estimation of the age based on a radiography of the bones of the wrist. They are based on a reference atlas which was published in the 50s in the United States on white men, without taking into account the demographic and morphological evolutions since. Furthermore, they are not reliable for the minors from 16 to 18 years old. Because of their presumed majority wrongly assumed, and because of the absence of papers, their access to education is often problematic and only the action of activists is currently allowing those minors to go to the school.

For the minors recognized as such, their coverage is scandalous. They are often accommodated in unhealthy hotels with bedbugs, humidity, without electricity and for only some nights. Some also find themselves without food in their hotels.

The situation for the LGBTQI

For LGBTQI applicant asylum is doubly difficult! Besides having to prove that they fled persecutions, they have to prove their sexual orientation. They are often facing OFPRA officers with poor understanding of LGBTQI communities, especially of those communities abroad. Whilethe State talks about Chechen homosexual refugees without doing anything for them, this is important to show that the system largely fails in welcoming LGBTQI refugees. The violence ofblocking access to asylum combined with the French state’s general mismanagement of LGBTQI asylum seekers,results in a hypocritical, limited, and excluding system.


 

2 / The “Asylum plan” of Gerard Collomb

The “asylum plan” aims to “guarantee the right to asylum and better master the influx of migrants”. Unveiled by Edouard Phillippe on the 12th of July, 2017 and concocted by Gerard Collomb, the plan shows the will of the government and minister of the interior to harden their stance by applying policies to « dissuade migration ». In fact, the government response to welcoming and lodging migrants is very insufficient, while the available methods of repression are being reinforced.

A Towards an obscuring and racist ideological framework:

The plan is built upon the distinction they make between political refugees and economic migrants. In a press report on the 12th of July, Cimade reminds us that: “Scientific studies and field experience shows that the reasons for migration are many, complex and very often interconnected. Among the reasons for migration are political, religious, and cultural violence, economic and political failure, and health and climate crisis. To put people into these categories and needlessly distinguish between refugees and economic migrants is to deny the facts and to pretend to manage the situation resolutely so as to satisfy the forces who oppose welcoming migrants.”

One of the effects of this distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ migrants is to legitimize the way they are being treated, and to justify the deportations and violence inflicted on those who compose the latter category. One of the main and overtly racist goals of the plan to “dissuade migration” is to make the rejection and fear of foreigners a goal of its very own.

The racism and obscurantism of the project reveals itself in its inconsistencies: they suggest to stop migrants from certain countries by increasing development aid, while France just announced its reduction.

As announced by the Human Rights League : “the announced bill reveals that the government has in reality no position on the migrations, just choosing to worsen the repression and the negation of rights.”

B Housing Calculated Needs

Calculated needs

We consider today that to accommodate all of the housing applicants (Gerard Sadik, coordinator of the asylum from the organization for the defense of migrants Cimade) room for 140,000 migrants would be necessary. Today there are only 83,000 openings, when we count all the currently existing spaces of welcome, which can be proposed, leaving 57000 spaces to create. This does not obviously take into account the people who are arriving every day and those forecasted to arrive in 2018.


 


 

The governement's proposals

No emergency measure was proposed for the lack of current accommodation and for the projected needs for this summer. 70 new people arrive in Paris every day, and this is not mentioning the several hundred more that will arrive or come back from a stay in a distant, unsuitable, and ill-equipted housing center.

No consideration is given to the 500 to 600 people who currently wander around in Calais, subjected to the violence described above. The Minister of the Interior willingly ignores Damien Carème, mayor of Grande Synthe, who is pushing for the creation of humanitarian camps. At the same time, the mayor Natacha Bouchart and the police department continue taking repressive and inhumane measures against the migrants.

The creation of 7500 available openings in the housing center for asylum seekers promised by the government in 2018 and 2019 is insufficient to catch up with the delay accumulated by people who are already on-location (that is 40 % of applicants). Taking into account the actual time that the centers will open, this will bring the number of places to 48 000 in 2020, well below needs. Even Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, suggested the creation of a mere 15000 places in Cada.

The announcement of the creation of 5000 more openings in temporary housing for the most vulnerable without details or precise figures also shows the French government’s will to bury the real stakes of the migratory crisis. Furthermore, the announcement of a possible retention of certain migrants in these spaces of accommodation looks more and more like a way to "park" those removed from the sight of the media and politics.

We are obviously far from an answer fittingthe reality of the urgency. In reality, in Calais, from Paris to Roya, thousands of migrants will have to sleep outside near structures which cannot welcome them.

By promising the organization of a meeting at the start of the school year, once again, the document once again gives no answer to the alarming situation isolated minors are facing. Underaged migrants will then be forced to turn to organisations appointed by the State (Red Cross in the Parisian case) who sometimes refuse to recognize their minority and consequently deny then the due support.

C Support and accompaniment:

Except the promise to lengthen the hours of French proposed by OFII, which cannot obviously welcome all the applicants, nothing concrete is planned. No attention is payed toorganizations that endlessly report the lack of structures and funds dedicated to language learning and the training of accompanying persons throughout the asylum procedure.

One might as well say that this critical aspects will once again rely on the voluntary associations

No proposal is made on the long-term support for asylum applicants.

Migrants are totally left to their own devices when it comes to administrative procedures. The government suggests reducing the length of the asylum application procedure to 6 months instead of 9 months officially. But the reality is quite different: in March 2016 the implementation of pre-welcome meetings before the prefecturehas only lengthened the the application for asylum, and moved the lines from prefectures to the so-called PADA (platform of welcome of the asylum seekers).

This new plan does not answer the insufficient training of the workers involved throughout the application. The narratives written by State appointed associations such as France Terre d’Asile are often made in a rush and not individualised enough. Asylum seekers are then suffering the consequences of social workers not being trained enough and working in poor conditions.

D Accentuation of the repression and the control

While the plan offers no satisfactory answer regarding welcome and accommodation, and respect for the rights, the real intention is to strengthen the ways assigned to control and removal measures.

At the European level, it recommends the strengthening of the staff of Frontex (agency of control of the borders financed by the European states, which substituted itself to the "Mare Nostrum" rescuing operation of the Italian coastguards). The plan also recommends the strengthening of the tools of control, such as the computing databases. Itsupports the Dublin procedure that forces the asylum application to be examined in the country of entrance on the European territory, although this measure is disputed by numerous associations. Especially, the plan advocates the suppression of the transfer period for the people that the State wants to remove accordingly with the Dublin procedure (in other word, those who are not accepted as asylum seekers in France because they were obliged to make their request in another country). As a consequence, the State would not have ensurethe transfer within the 6 month daly currently existing ; which prevents any cancellation of this procedure for failure to respect the dealy.

At the French level, the removal of unsuccessful asylum seekers is claimed as one of the priorities:

- The priority is to ensure they leave the french territory with the implementation of plans of volunteer departure(DPAR) and the systematising of the obligations to leave the French territory (OQTF)

- The repressive plans are strengthened with the creation of 1000 places for the victims of the Dublin procedureand a new lawframe for identity checking, placement, and retention which leads to predict the extension of the duration of retention and the abolition of the jurisdictional control.

3 Towards an increasingly uninhibited state racism

A En Marche normalises racism

LREM tolerates the most violent racist ideas. Claire O'Petit was thus involved in Macrons movement En Marche despite her anti-Roma statements, and her radio statements expressing the desire to run over Muslims. Also, the president's party had fourteen acting deputees during the last mandate who voted in favor of a law allowing the government to take away French citizenship - a primary measure of the Front National.

Many public statements from the President of the Republic signals a racist and colonial conception of the world. On June 2nd, he joked about Comoron islanders risking their lives trying to swim across the border (12000 deaths in twenty years according to Comoronian authorities). On the 10th of July, he explained that the “challenges of Africa are civilizational », and that: “in a country where women still have 7 to 8 children, we can decide to spend millions of euros without changing anything”. Thus, he denies France's role as a colonial power in Africa, ignores pertinent scientific studies on the subject, and blames the women of Africa for their precarious situation, displaying the same racism as Nicolas Sarkozy in his speech on Dakar.

B The complicity with Génération Identitaire and far right militias

Under the influence of the far right, organized militias are participating in the pursuit of migrants, blocking meal distribution, and stigmatizing activists, all with the support of law enforcement.

Amongst these militias, Generation Identitaire benefits from Macron and Collomb’s complacency, and, in turn, we can see Macron and Collomb’s hostility towards humanitarian organizations. Thus, Generation Identitaire was able to raise funds to buy a boat and commit acts that could be qualified as piracy against NGO navies saving migrants from the sea. The opposition to this attack only came from activists and organisations, and no aid came from French institutions. Gerard Collomb did nothing to prevent this initiative and will thus have a share of responsability in the actions that Génération Identitaire are about to commit.

On june 23rd 2017, Gérard Collomb used the far right rethoric to talk about the situation in Calais : comparing migrants to a disease («people clumped together like a cyst »), expressing contempt towards humanitarian organisations (« maybe there are other places than Calais they can show how useful they are »), denying fundamental rights, refusing to acknowledge legal decisions, prioritizing everything repressive. His discourse was approved of by Generation Identitaire, who then offered their services to the minister.

Elected in the second round of French election promising to « block the Front National », Macrons ideas have actually secured the ideas of Le Pen into the highest offices of offices government.