French authorities have outrageously banned a huge solidarity convoy to Calais at the last minute. Organisers have vowed to defy the clampdown, and call on the British authorities to intervene.
The convoy on Saturday has been planned for months, with 250 vehicles bringing much needed aid to refugees. Campaigners describe the response as “phenomenal” as masses of aid was collected across the country.
Border controls at Dover could use the ban to prevent the convoy boarding the ferry.
Organiser Weyman Bennett of Stand up to Racism said, “It’s adding insult to injury leaving refugees in a perilous state in Calais and then denying aid and solidarity on a false pretext.”
Sam Fairbairn of the People’s Assembly said, “This is Europe, there is supposed to be free movement of people. It’s unacceptable that we can’t even get across the Channel to deliver aid to desperate people.”
Organisers have offered to meet outside Calais in order to facilitate efficient delivery.
The ban follows threats by French president Francois Hollande and prime minister Manuel Valls to ban trade union demonstrations after a monster march in Paris on Tuesday.
Several demonstrations have already been banned in France in recent years—notably a march for Palestine in 2014 and others for refugees and the climate in December 2015.
They went ahead anyway after organisers refused to back down. However, using the ongoing state of emergency and under pressure from a powerful strike movement, the government is hardening its tone.
But the convoy is going to go to Dover whatever happens, organisers say.
“We will be calling on all our supporters to turn up in Dover and demand that we are allowed to get on the ferry we have booked and paid for,” they said in a statement.
“We are calling for a mass protest at this undemocratic and authoritarian decision, we demand that the British government tell the French authorities that this is unacceptable and that we should be allowed free passage”.