The word from various media reports and sources on the ground is that the jungle eviction will most likely not start next Monday 17 October. Apparently, cops have been told they are now allowed to take leave next week, which was previously banned. But they must be back for the 24th.
It seems that the authorities just haven’t got their act together in time, with plans still not clear for how they are going to manage to shift 10,000 desperate people. 17 October would have been a particularly symbolic date. France’s biggest mass eviction in living memory would have started 55 years after its biggest post-war police massacre. On 17 October 1961, Paris police murdered unknown hundreds of Algerian demonstrators in streets and police stations in Paris, many bodies thrown into the Seine.
Today, comrades in Calais say the jungle was still calmly going about its business. Vans of riot cops and water cannons watched at the edges to ward off a possible attempt at a demo, but roads remained clear, and supplies, residents, humanitarians and journalists moved in and out without problems.
Meanwhile in Lille, a court heard two lawyers representing some Jungle residents apply for an injunction to halt or delay the eviction as contravening “human rights”. The decision should be revealed on Monday.
So, now awaiting the storm. Many think that on Monday cops will make initial raids against the shops and restaurants, which have again been banned under a new court ruling (overturning an earlier appeal judgement). This, we can guess, will be part of a first step to persuade as many people as possible to leave ahead of the main operation, by cutting supplies, basically putting the ghetto under siege.
The state can also order the charities to stop food handouts, and few will need much pressure to agree. Then, with thousands of cops on hand, checkpoints can be set up around the camp to stop food coming in, as they already stop building materials. All that’s left then is to cut off the water mains.
At the same time, many expect the buses to arrive next week. Local news reports say 50-60 coaches will arrive each day to take people to official camps around France called “Centres d’Accueil et de Reorientation” (CAOs).
Meanwhile, other reports say police have a quota to arrest and send to detention centres 80 people per day. The danger of arrest should help persuade people to “voluntarily” get on the buses and be scattered across France to unknown fates. Charity workers are already doing there bit to help, spreading propaganda telling people it’s in their best interest to quietly get on board.
Then, after a week or so, when numbers are whittled down and spirits ground down, the final clear up. As to just what level of force they’ll use, numbers like 3,000 or 5,000 or even 8,000 cops are being bandied about in the local news and rumour mill. Local media report that everyone rounded up in the camp will be taken to a “mobile police station” or processing camp. From there, some will go straight to detention, and just possibly a flight to Khartoum or Kabul. Others will be given “Orders to Quit the French Territory” (OQTFs), released and sent on their way. Hundreds of cops will be patrolling Calais town to make sure no one tries to stay in the vicinity.
Many of those chased out of Calais will probably head to Paris, where the other “Jungle” tent city around the neighbourhood of La Chapelle is again growing rapidly. Like Calais, every few months cops clear La Chapelle, and every few months people return, and on it goes. “We have always lived in slums and holes in the wall … we are not in the least afraid of ruins”.