Burn the borders! Trials against the Vincennes 10.

[Translation from French article http://www.demosphere.eu/node/15757]

Between June 2008 and June 2009, a dozen of the detainees were
arrested and incarcerated - for the most part for almost a year - in
preventative detention. They were accused of damaging and destroying the buildings of the CRA [detention centre] of Vincennes, and/or violence against the police.

During the six months preceeding the fire, the CRA of Vincennes was
the site of incesssant protest movements by the imprisoned
sans-papiers. Hunger strikes, arson, refusal to be counted,
altercations with the police, and individual and collective actions
all occurred inside the centre throughout this period. Outside, demos
and actions took place denouncing the existence of these centres and
supporting the revolts.

On 21nd June 2008, Salem Souli died in his room after having tried in
vain to get medical attention. The next morning, a march organised by
the detainees in his memory was violently repressed. Then a collective
revolt started and the detention centre was set on fire.

A scapegoat trial

To prevent such revolts from happening elsewhere, the state needs to
strike hard, it needs to find those responsible. These 10 people were
arrested to set an example. If they are "guilty" or "innocent" is not
of importance. The state, by punishing these people, wishes to quash
challenges, insubordination, and acts of resistance from those inside
or who will in future find themselves inside.

The revolt of Vincennes is not an isolated incident. Everywhere where
we find detention centres, there will be revolts, arson, escapes,
hunger strikes, mutiny, destruction. This was the case in France
(Nantes, Bordeaux, and Toulouse where the centres burned) and in
numerous European countries (Italy, Belgium, Holland, Britain) and in
countries where the control of borders is externalised like in Turkey
and Libya.

The fire in the detention centre of Vincennnes was not only symbolic:
the destruction of 280 places in this centre led to an immediate
reduction in the number of raids and deportations in the Paris region.
Concretely several thousand arrests were avoided. By this act, the
detainees have for a time stopped the operation of the deportation

Prison for foreigners: imprison, deport, dissuade from migrating

Detention centres are one of the stages between arrest and
deportation. They serve to imprison foreigners for a time to prepare
the necessary conditions for deportation, that is to say to obtain
passports or travel documents, and to get seats on planes or boats.

The more the state wants to deport, the more it constructs detention
centres. Everywhere, they are increasing in number. In Europe, the
tendency is to extend the time of detention, which not only allows for
more deportations but also dissuades people from migrating.

In fact, these detention places are punitive. Thus, they are
increasing built on prison models: with CCTV, small units and
isolation cells.... For example, in France the biggest detention
centre under construction at Mesnil-Amelot (240 places), which will
open in the coming weeks, is based on this model. In Holland, where
suicides and "unexplained" deaths are frequent in such centres,
detention lasts 18 months and can perhaps be renewed immediately after
release; the imprisonment is in very small individual cells,
especially on prison boats, with very little access to outside air.

Sans-papiers: a tailor-made workforce...

Detention centres form part of the politics of the "management of
migratory movements", developed itself according to the criteria of
"chosen immigration", in other words for the needs of the workforce of
the European countries. It is nothing new that the bosses of the rich
countries use migrant workers to increase their profits. Whether this
is legally in the form of temporary contracts, through what was known
as "contrat OMI"(which gives temporary rights for seasonal workers),
or working in the black economy, foreigners more often than not work
in the hardest jobs (BTP [building and public works], restoration,
cleaning, seasonal work). These sectors demand a flexible workforce,
adaptable to the immediate needs of production.

As well as the lack of statuatory rights at work, for example in the
event of an accident, the permanent menace of arrest and deportation
which hangs over sans-papiers allows bosses to underpay them, or to
not pay at all (which is not rare). This reduction of salaries and
working conditions reinforces the exploitation of everyone. The
repeated strikes of the sans-papier show how the French employers and
the state need this workforce, but also how, when there is collective
organisation, the sans-papiers can sometimes get improved conditions.

...an ideal scapegoat

Migration politics, of which detention centres are a part, also serve
to stigmatise the sans-papiers. The state makes them the scapegoats
for the problems facing the people of France. The overt use of
deportations by the state helps to amplify the "danger" that irregular
immigration represents for France and Europe, and shows the
effectiveness of the state in protecting its citizens in the face of
such danger.

The state uses tricks such as the "threat of illegal immigration," the
"scum of the suburbs," the "veiled women" or as during the campaign on
national identity, to bring out the worst xenophobic and racist
tendencies and tries to create a consensus around the power and the
world that they produce.

Borders everywhere

The detention centres are an indispensible part of the application of
a European policy of migration control that, whilst pretending to
abolish internal borders within the Schengen area, reinforces the
external border, notably through Frontex.

Therefore, the control has been externalised to the ports of Europe,
through agreements with countries such as Libya, Mauritania, Turkey or
Ukraine, where camps are financed to lock up foreigners who are
decreed undesirable, even before they have managed to get into Europe.

At the same time within the territory, the borders are disseminated,
become mobile and thus omnipresent: every ID check could lead to
depotation. Because the border is not a line demarcating territory,
but a point of control, of pressure. So, roads, public transport,
administrative offices, banks,
temping agencies, all become border offices.

Detention centres, like all migrant camps, are elements of the
murderous borders of Europe. They are places where people wait,
imprisoned, sometimes indefinitely and without trial, where they are
murdered through lack of care, where they are sent to death when they
are deported. We need to end these borders!

For all these reasons, and because there is no "good" management of
migration, because everyone should be able to decide where they want
to live, we are in solidarity with those accused of revolt and arson
in the detention centre of Vincennes!


1st meeting, 16th January 2010: Film, debate, info

7pm at CICP (21 ter rue Voltaire, Paris 11ème)

Collective for solidarity with the accused of Vincennes


25th, 26th and 27th January: Trial of the revolt which set fire to the
detention centre at Vincennes. 1.30pm, TGI [Tribunal de Grande
Instance] de Paris, Room 16

16th-24th January: Week of solidarity

The revolt which started a fire in the biggest prison for foreigners
in France is a concrete and historic response to the existence of
detention centres and the politics of migration control.

On 25th, 26th and 27th January 2010 at the TGI de Paris (métro Cité)
10 people will be put on trial for this revolt.

Our solidarity needs to be equal to the challenge: the acquittal of
the accused, and furthermore freedom of movement and settlement.

On 22nd June 2008 the biggest detention centre in France burned.

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