Update from No Borders Ventimiglia on the events of 4-5th August, translated by Rabble.
Note from Rabble: Hundreds of refugees at any one time have been stuck near the Italian coastal town of Ventimiglia since France introduced border controls with Italy just over a year ago. As in Calais, there is an official, state-sanctioned ‘container camp’ – run by the Red Cross – and a more populous, autonomous camp nearby.
On the night of 4th August 2016, around 300 migrants left the Italian Red Cross Centre in the direction of the French border. The sans-papiers stopped at Balzi Rossi, 50m from the border where there had been the No Border camp last year. Their aim was to leave the Red Cross Centre, demand the opening of the border, and call for the release of a Sudanese man who had been arrested and deported to the Brindisi detention centre.
Some people acting in solidarity came to bring water and were arrested by the Italian police and taken to Ventimiglia police station. Two comrades received an administrative restriction of territory ( “foglio di via”) that denies them access to 16 towns of the province of Imperia. Two others were detained at the police station of the French PAF (border police) and received an order banning them from Italy for five years.
The police violently dispersed the migrants, and during the operation seven people were arrested and taken to the prefecture of Imperia. We don’t know if they will get an immediate trial for resistance or whether they will be released quickly. In total 17 European comrades were arrested by Italian and French police.
During the action, 200 migrants succeeded in escaping the Italian police. Some swam around the border and joined Menton. French police launched several violent charges and fired tear gas on migrants in the water. Most people crossed the border on foot. A hundred managed to escape the police, then became the object of a manhunt in the streets of Menton, Cannes, Sospel and Nice. 144 migrants were subsequently arrested and are being held in containers and buildings of the PAF (border police) of Menton Garavan, France.
French police prevented journalists from France 3 and press from taking photographs. They destroyed camera equipment and made numerous arrests, to prevent word of the day’s events getting out and the news that they had lost control of the border.
Several buses run by Lignes Azur took people to the border for deportation, but they were prevented from getting off, as there was insufficient space in the PAF bases to handle the number of arrestees. So far only 60 people have been sent back to Italy. Yet French police also tried a diplomatic approach in order to pacify the migrants, giving them food and drink. We do not know whether migrants will be returned to the Red Cross centre or deported back to hotspots or detention centres further south in Italy, since the number of those arrested is more significant than usual.
Video shows people shouting “hurriya” (freedom) as they cross the border