Log-book: October 2006
Celebration of « L'Humanité » Fighting Families Roissy Airport Free at last!
Celebration of « L'Humanité »
I enjoy going to the annual gathering near Paris organized by the French Communist Party and his newspaper " L'Humanité" or "Mankind" (note from the translator). People come from all over France. There is a crowd. I enjoy unexpected meetings, being invited for, a drink or a meal.
Regional specialities from everywhere are available for all. There is far too much to choose from. I am invited to join a few young people drinking champagne. This calls for a glass of champagne and a photo to be taken.
There are only relaxed and open faces. Everybody is there for a good time.
Posters of Che Guevara are always present. The Che is for many an icon in fights for freedom.
Solidarity with the Palestinians is not forgotten.
Slogans written on the booths arose my curiosity. One of them was a quote from Victor Hugo: " those who live are those who fight. "
I passed in from of a large hall where a discussion had just started. This was my chance to sit down a while. The theme was interesting: " believers, non-believers, what values are shared for the future? ".
At the rostrum, five men spoke briefly. The first thing to strike me was that there was no woman on the stand. What a pity that there is not this sensibility represented when organizing a discussion.
The first universal and shared value these men put forward was freedom.
- 300 people took refuge in a gymnasium on the outskirts of Paris. Most of them came from the Ivory Coast and Mali. Many do not have a residence permit. They are strangers with no official documents.
These families have been evacuated by force from a building they had been occupying for many years. This situation in the gymnasium became intolerable. I was outraged to see these families crammed like cattle into the camps.
- There were many young children. Three babies were born there. In the changing rooms, 6 people on hunger strike were lying down on mattresses. I met with men and women who said their prayers on a carpet or on cardboard. Cooking food was done in many places.
The families had refused to be lodged in hotels where it was forbidden to cook food or wash clothes. Their dispersion would put an end to the possibility of taking action together.
It is the determination and the visibility of those who fight that change what society thinks. Two players from the football team of France had given 70 seats to those that had been expelled so that they could go to the game between France and Italy. Everyone was celebrating in the gymnasium. The spokesperson for the women told me : " After all that we had suffered, this initiative is the best therapy there is . "
The solidarity between people of the neibourhood is a sign. Another sign is the solidarity of the key figures. Mobilization goes on. An immediate solution, until a better one is found, exists: the requisitioning of a lodging.
Not a day goes by without expulsions towards Africa going on. I went to join militants of organizations at the airport because two Malians, Sissoko and Cisse, have been forced to take the Paris-Bamako flight. Police was everywhere. A force of intimidation.
In the moving flow of passengers, there was the row of those who go to Dakar and Bamako.
" Are you going to Bamako? There are two handcuffed Malians that are to aboard your plane. They are being expelled by force to Bamako. You can make a gesture of resistance: do not buckle your seat belt, ask for explanations, ask for the commander "
Talks have been established. Some people promised to do something, others listened politely.
Boarding has been completed. What will happen? Will there be resistance on board? A delay in the departure of the plane? It is impossible to communicate anymore.
The combat is unequal. We have no illusions. We have sown a few seeds.
News will be given by the Malian Association of Expelled People. This association was founded on January 2006 on the occasion of the social European Forum of Bamako. This association welcomes and mobilizes the expelled people. Which makes it possible to continue the fight here and also there.
In the meantime, many dozens of people with no official documents have besieged the General Consulate of Mali, denouncing the collusion between the Malian State and the Home Office. It concerns the issue of passes that have legally provoked the expulsion of the people with no official documents.
Free at last!
Near the airport, there is a center highly guarded by the police. A difficult location to find. People with no official documents are kept there waiting to expelled towards their native country. Some have the chance to be released on a Court order or because the Consul of their country did not want to sign the pass for their expulsion.
Some of us came to pick up two people with no official documents who were to be liberated at 6 p.m. and two others, at 9 p.m. In front of the gates, I made large signs with my arms to the Africans I saw far away behind other gates. They replied by agitating their arms.
Our two friends who had been 32 days in this centre were happy to be liberated and welcomed. They travelled light : a simple bag. In the car, we did not see them complaining. They were in a hurry to be reunited with family and friends and all the others in the gymnasium.
They had not been humiliated by the expulsion, thus they could arrive as winners. Everybody would be celebrating.
What a surprise was awaiting us : as we were almost there, we came in front of police cars and a great number of police officers. We immediately took another direction; we left the car and continued on foot to the gymnasium as night was falling.
What happened? A father had gone to pick his child up after the end of the school. As he was waiting, the police have come to arrest him. There was an immediate protest rally. The celebration will be for another day!