A migrant rescue NGO has invited lawyers, journalists and activists to join a protest with the aim of carefully documenting the authorities' response. Recordings taken at the scene were used to make accusations of police violence. Meanwhile, a famous essayist has published several oddities surrounding the civil organisation.
The members of the migrant rescue organisation Utopia 56 had carefully planned and implemented everything to stage a protest on the Place de la Republique in central Paris, on Monday evening. During the evening hours, hundreds of tents were erected in one of the French capital's landmark squares, in a bid to draw the authorities' attention to the problems of migrants without shelter. In fact, however, it was all an organised stunt by the NGO in order to manipulate.
According to in information obtained by the weekly Valeurs actuelles, the NGO took care of everything. It invited lawyers, journalists and activists to attend the protest and provoke police officers, allowing activists to take photos and videos as proof of police violence.
It all started a week ago, on 17 November, when police evacuated a migrant camp at Stade de France (the national football stadium) in Seine-Saint-Denis departement, on the outskirts of Paris, where more than 2,500 migrants lived in squalid conditions.
The operation was carried out without atrocities. Authorities used 70 buses to transport migrants to 26 reception centres and sport halls in the region, but many of them refused to stay and returned to the streets.
Pro-migration Utopia 56 was also among the NGOs that played a role in assisting the evacuation process. Following the evacuation on 17 November, it recruited dozens of migrants, gave them tents and took them to Place de la Republique in downtown Paris, where they quickly set up hundreds of tents. The events were thoroughly documented by the NGO who posted several photos and videos on Twitter to - as they say - raise awareness of the migrants' situation in government circles. Meanwhile, supporters of the NGO chanted loudly that the refugees should be left in peace to sleep.
Occupation place de la République. La police continue de repousser les 450 personnes exilées qui y ont posé leur tente. Associations, collectifs et soutiens toujours sur place pour "juste" demander de les laisser dormir pic.twitter.com/R4mmJxkEXe— Utopia 56 (@Utopia_56) November 23, 2020
Utopia 56 went even further, openly blackmailing authorities by stating that they refuse to leave the square unless promised that accommodation will be provided for 1,000 migrants.
On est toujours place de la République pourtant... et on constate votre désorganisation et vos violences policières. Mais à la garantie de l'ouverture de 1 000 places d'hébergement, on partira ! https://t.co/XPl65onfrw— Utopia 56 (@Utopia_56) November 23, 2020
In short, Utopia 56 blackmailed the authorities and provoked law enforcement officers with the help of volunteers, and then published recordings taken on the scene as evidence of police violence. When,a fter all this, several leftist politicians began criticising police for their invervention, it was mission accomplished. Jean Melenchon, the president of the La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party talked about "scenes of rare barbarity" and an authoritarian regime.
Migrants violemment évacués à Paris: Jean-Luc Mélenchon dénonce "des scènes d'une rare barbarie" pic.twitter.com/Raw6ZPczMC— BFMTV (@BFMTV) November 24, 2020
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also reacted to the events. In a letter addressed to the interior minister, she condemned the police intervention, which she described as particularly cruel.
Suite aux interventions policières particulièrement brutales et choquantes contre des réfugiés dans Paris hier soir, j'ai écrit ce matin au ministre de l'Intérieur pour lui faire part de ma plus ferme condamnation. pic.twitter.com/YtWgGZG8UX— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) November 24, 2020
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin instructed the General Inspectorate of the National Police (IGPN) to investigate the incidents and promised to publish the report within 48 hours.
Le rapport du Préfet de police sur l'évacuation du campement illicite place de la République m'a été remis ce matin.— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) November 24, 2020
Celui-ci m'a proposé la saisine de l'IGPN sur plusieurs faits inacceptables. J'ai demandé à l'IGPN de remettre ses conclusions sous 48h et les rendrai publiques.
Eric Zemmour, the internationally acclaimed essayist, also spoke about the events, levelling harsh criticism at the Utopia 56 NGO. He said the civil organisation went so far as to force a dress code on its helpful volunteers, advising female activists, for example, to consider migrants' sensitivities and adapt to their dressing culture. In an ironic rewording of the well-known proverb "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", Zemmour said it would be more appropriate to say "when in Paris, do as you would in Algiers or Islamabad."
#Zemmour : " @Utopia_56 a annoncé que les femmes devaient s'habiller de manière décente pour respecter les mœurs des #migrants. Avant c'était 'à Rome, fais comme les romains'. Maintenant, c'est 'fais à Paris comme à Alger ou Islamabad". #Facealinfo #utopia56 #Republique pic.twitter.com/sskTWgJ6Ws— Audace (@CercleAudace) November 24, 2020
Utopia 56 did not let it pass that police dismantled their makeshift migrant camp in central Paris in an hour and a half. They staged a demonstration on the following evening where more than 2,000 people protested for migrants' rights and against police violence.