Testimony shared by a visitor
– About the situation in Bruges, they told me the following :
The hunger strike started on 5 February 2019. It is a general one, not only followed by the Sudanese.
They protest against:
– arbitrary releases (one was released immediately after he arrived although he already had been arrested 5 times – the other imprisoned for months)
– the racism by the private security staff: no respect for black people, they speak to them with aggressivity (shouting)
– the living conditions (for e.g only one shower per week)
One man was retained in confinement for 5 days after he had asked medicine to the management…
— M: In Bruges he refused to go upstairs to sleep. He was arrested with violence, by lots of guards (he says they were around 20 of them), his faced squeezed on the floor, one guard put a foot on his head (his left eye was still a bit swollen), his hands tied behind his back and his feet tied too. Confinement cell for 2 days.
Action by Sudanese in the Bruges closed centre:Update
Friday 1 February, several Sudanese were called by the social assistant who informed them that they should give their fingerprints and request asylum. Some refused and were beaten and placed in confinement cells. A few coretainees who witnessed the facts are in a state of shock!
In the weekend of 2 February, new Sudanese arrived at the centre. They are more and more.
On Tuesday 5 February we heard that they refused to eat in order to protest against their arbitrary retention and the violence perpetrated against one of their coretainee. Following that, they all were placed in confinement cells.
This Wednesday 6 February, they are not reachable (still in confinement cells or phones confiscated). We heard from lawyers that some were transferred to the Merksplas closed centre. It seems to be the usual procedure when this kind of ‘movements’ happens in the centres.
Others seem to be out of confinement but the information is really hard to get.
The Director of the centre would have told them that a list of names was or will be sent to the Office and that ‘if some on the list do not remain quiet, they will get into trouble’!
Movements by the exiles/undocumented in the closed centres/retention centres/hotspots are frequent all over Europe and at its borders. Cornered exiles protest against these retentions, against the living conditions in the centres, against the European migration policies, against the borders, etc…
Here too, they very often protest, often after violent actions by the guards on one of them or after massive arrests of a specific nationality.
The Office’s answer to any movement that disturbs ‘their public order’ (hosts, unemployed, activists) is repression, hoping to silence the protesters. It is the criminalisation of any opposition movement.
When acts of rebellion happen in closed centres, everything is done to mute the protests, they prevent them to communicate among themselves or with the outside world: blackmail, confinement, transfers, deportations, etc.
Like for all other protesters taken to courts, acts of resistance in the centres should be supported, helped, encouraged, advertised etc. so that they can be heard one day.