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Ventimiglia : migrants overcome border policies

Monday 8 August 2016

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Press Release issued by the European Civic Forum

This week more than 400 people from a wide range of collectives and movements worldwide met in Longo Mai for the Congress of the European Civic Forum. We would like to stress our position concerning the events that have taken place over the last few days at the France-Italy border.

For several months now, repressive measures adopted against migrants are strengthened, particularly in Ventimiglia. Crossing the France-Italy border is becoming increasingly difficult and any form of solidarity with the migrants is regularly criminalized. Tension in the area is on the uprise. On the night of 4 August 2016 roughly 300 migrants decided to leave the retention centre managed by the Italian Red Cross and walk towards the border. Together they demanded the borders to be opened and freedom for a companion held in a detention facility in the South of Italy.

Despite the Italian police used violence to disperse the migrants, over 200 managed to break free. They managed to swim or walk across the border while French and Italian police charged into them and used teargass from both sides of the border in an attempt to control the situation. Manhunts followed in neighbouring cities, over 144 migrants were arrested and later held in containers in border police detention centres or forcefully sent back to Italy.

French police prevented journalists working for France 3 and other members of the press to take photos. They also destroyed part of the evidence collected by the press to hide the fact they had loss control of the border. During these events, 17 people who assisted the migrants in their struggle - notably by bringing water to them - were arrested in Italy and in France. Two of them were subject to restrictive measures which is an increasingly common practice adopted by the police to hinder solidarity : Italian citizens are banned from the from the municipality, while French nationals are banned from entering the Italian state for a period of five years. From the beginning of these events media and several politicians have accused « No borders » activists of « instigating the revolt ».

Following the European Civic Forum and as people and collectives who actively support migrants, we would like to stress our solidarity with all those detained or currently pursued by the police on both sides of the border. We would also like to demytholigize what is currently being stated :

Migrants are entirely capable of organising themselves autonomously in their attempt to cross the border and forward their claims and demands. They simply have no choice, after having overcome significant perils in order to get to Europe and having fled from war, poverty and environmental degradation caused by post- colonial and market-dictated policies. This week police were overcome at the border following a collective initiative by migrants. This is not the first time such an event takes place on this border and represents a small victory against racist and excessive security measures migrants are constantly subject to.

Allegations and criminalisation of « no borders » activists, within this context, are made in an attempt to underrate initiatives led by migrants. Actually, over the last year, it has become more and more difficult for activists to help migrants in their struggle because they are continuously subject to arrests and territorial bans.

We would like to invite everybody to continue to support the demands made by migrants :
- against borders and for freedom of movement
- against controls, persecutions, detentions and State-perpetuated racism – against war ideology, militarization and economic policies working in this direction
- for the opportunity to live where they wish and to rejoin their families and relatives.

We would like to ask everybody to take part in the protest that will take part this Sunday in Ventimiglia at 3pm (Piazza Costituzione)

Signatories : groups, collectives and individuals taking part in the Congress of the European Civic Forum