<m2m-eng> (no subject)

Martin Zerner zerner at paris7.jussieu.fr
Fri Dec 25 14:02:08 CET 2009


January 25th, 26th and 27th: trial of the revolt 
that set the detention centre of Vincennes on fire

The revolt, which led to the fire that destroyed 
the largest prison for foreigners in France, is a 
concrete and historical response to the existence 
of detention centres and to the whole of the 
policy of control of the migratory flows.

On January 25th, 26th and 27th, ten persons will 
be tried for this revolt by the Tribunal de 
Grande Instance of Paris (a court which tries 
Our solidarity has to be at the height of the 
stake: the acquittal of the accused and beyond 
that, freedom of movement and installation.

The largest detention centre in France burnt on June 22nd 2008.
>From June 2008 to June 2009, some ten former
detainees have been arrested and imprisoned - 
most of them for nearly one year - in preventive 
jail. They are charged with "damage", "voluntary 
destruction of the buildings of the Vincennes 
administrative detention centre", and/or 
"aggression in band against a police officer, 
without causing an incapacity of work for more 
than eight days".
Movements of protest of the locked up 
sans-papiers have taken place ceaselessly during 
the six months before the fire. Hunger strikes, 
beginnings of fires, refusing to be counted, and 
individual or collective oppositions followed 
each other during this period. Outside, 
demonstrations and actions exposed the very 
existence of these centres and support the 
On June 21st 2008, Salem Souli died in his room 
after he had asked in vain for medical care.  The 
next day the detainees organized a march in his 
memory, which was violently repressed. A 
collective revolt followed and the detention 
centre was reduced to ashes.

To prevent this type of revolt from spreading, 
the State must strike hard, it has to find 
culprits. Ten persons were arrested to serve as 
examples. We do not care whether they are 
"culprit" or "innocent". By the punishment of 
these persons, the State wishes to make disappear 
revolts, denials of submission, and acts of 
resistance from the part of those who are, or 
will be in the future, between the walls of these 
The Vincennes revolt is not isolated. Wherever 
are detention centres, revolts will spring up, 
fires will start, flights, hunger strikes, 
mutinies, and destructions will take place. It 
has been so in France (centres were burnt in 
Nantes, Bordeaux, and Toulouse), and in many 
European countries (Italy, Belgium, the 
Netherlands, Great Britain) or in countries to 
which border control is outsourced such as Turkey 
and Libya.
The fire at the Vincennes detention centre is not 
only a symbol: as an immediate consequence of the 
disappearance of its capacity for 280 people, 
rounding up and deportations greatly decreased in 
the Paris region during the following period. 
Concretely, arrests were avoided by the 
thousands. This act of the detainees has put out 
of order for a while the deportation machine.

The detention centres are a step between the 
arrest and the deportation. They are used to lock 
up the passengers for the time necessary to 
gather what is needed for a deportation, namely a 
passport or a pass issued by a consulate, and a 
plane or ship reservation.
The more a State wants to deport, the more it 
builds detention centres.  Their numbers 
increases ceaselessly everywhere. In Europe, the 
trend is to make locking up longer, which not 
only allows deporting more people, but also 
dissuades immigration.
These locking up places are actually punishment 
places. As such, they are more and more built on 
a model of prison: monitoring by video, small 
units, isolation cellsŠ For example, the largest 
detention centre in France now being built in 
France at Le Mesnil-Amelot (with capacity for 240 
persons) that will open in a few weeks is 
designed according to this model. In the 
Netherlands, where suicides and "unexplained" 
deaths are frequent in the centres, detention 
lasts 18 months and may start again immediately 
after freeing, in very small individual cells, 
sometimes in prison-boats, with scarce access to 

Detention centres are a part of the "migratory 
flows management" policy, which in turn is 
elaborated according the criteria of the "chosen 
immigration" which means according to the needs 
of manpower in the European countries. That 
bosses of the rich countries use migrant workers 
to increase their profits is nothing new. Be it 
within a legal framework, such as interim jobs or 
the former "OMI contract" (which allowed to fit 
the right of presence in the country to the 
seasonal working time), or in illegal work, the 
foreigners most often find jobs in the toughest 
sectors (the building industry, restaurants, 
cleaning, seasonal worksŠ) These sectors ask for 
a flexible manpower, one which adapts to the 
immediate needs of production.
On top of the absence of rights due to their 
status, for instance in case of an accident, the 
permanent threat of arrest and deportation 
obviously enables the bosses to underpay them, 
indeed not to pay them at all (it is not 
infrequent). This equalizing at the lowest level 
of salaries and working conditions enables the 
bourgeoisie to enhance the exploitation of all. 
The repeated strikes of sans-papiers show how 
much the French bosses and the State need this 
manpower, but they also show that the 
sans-papiers can check them and get 
regularizations when they organize collectively.

The migratory policy, of which the detention 
centres are a gear, is also used to stigmatize 
the undocumented foreigners. The State makes of 
them the scapegoat for the hardships of the 
population of France. The spectacular use of 
deportations by the State takes its part in 
showing how great a "danger" the irregular 
immigration would be for France and Europe, and 
at the same time the efficiency of a State, which 
protects its citizens from this danger.
The State uses artefacts such as the above 
mentioned "threat of underground immigration", 
"rascals in the suburbs", "veiled women", or such 
as the campaign for the national identity to wake 
up the worst chauvinist and racist feelings, and 
to try and create a consent for the power and the 
world it produces.

The detention centres are indispensable for the 
implementation of a European policy to control 
the migratory flows, which, while it claims to 
abolish the borders within the Schengen space, 
reinforces them outside, notably with Frontex.
And so the control is outsourced at the outer 
doors of Europe, in agreement with countries such 
as Libya, Mauritania, Turkey or Ukraine, to which 
funds are given to lock up foreigners who are 
deemed unwanted, even before they make it to 
At the same time, within the Schengen territory, 
borders are scattered, become movable, and thus 
are everywhere: every identity check can lead to 
a deportation. For the border is not only a line 
limiting he territory, it is above all a point of 
checking, of pressure and, of sorting out. So the 
street, the communication lines, the 
administrative buildings, the banks, the interim 
work offices already function as borders.
The detention centres are pieces of the deadly 
borders of the Schengen Europe, as are all camps 
for migrants, They are places where one waits, 
locked up, sometimes without limit and without 
trial, where one dies for lack of care, where one 
kills oneself rather than be deported. Borders 
must be abolished!

For all these reasons, and because there is no 
"good" management of the migratory flows, because 
everybody must be able to decide where he wants 
to live, we are in solidarity with the accused of 
the revolt and the arson of the Vincennes 
detention centre!



Collectif de solidarité avec les inculpés de Vicennes
liberté-sans-retenue at riseup.net

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