Vottem closed centre
Sixty per cent of the retainees of the closed centre in Vottem have started a hunger strike two days ago.
They are protesting against:
-Medical care: some have important appointments in hospitals, which are not respected. “They are always on time to bring you to the airport with their escorts, but for medical appointments they are not there.” Sleeping pills, tranquilizers and pain killers are distributed by the guards upon request. Some retainees have become real zombies and do not stand up anymore. “I call it doping.”
-Food : ‘Vache qui rit’ cheese every morning, chocolate every evening. For lunch, a small plate with little meat not certified hallal. “Everything is disgusting”. “We are starving all day.”
-The insolence and aggressivity of the guards: “Morning, noon and evening they keep telling us: if you’re not satisfied, just go back home'”. “They do whatever they want with us.”
« Retainees coming from prison are immediately put in confinement cells. Others are placed there as soon as they dare say something. A few days ago, a man was really sick, one could easily see. He was placed in confinement celles for two days!”
Many have been retained in the closed centre for 8, 9, 10, sometimes 11 months.
One of them has been there for 8 months and after he refused a deportation, they reset the counters to zero: “Will I have to stay for another 8 months here?”
Others are asking to return and wait months before getting a flight.
And in Bruges closed centre
This Sunday 6th of November 2016, around 20 retainees refused to go back upstairs after their walk in order to protest against violents words by a guard. After a meeting with the director, tension calmed down… and 4 of the troublemakers were transfered to other centres!
Retainees in Bruges are denouncing :
the lack of medical care and the prescription of tranquilizers upon request, hygiene: “everything is very dirty; we can only have a shower every 12 days”, the unpleasant and aggressive words by the staff: “we are paying taxes for you, go back home”
In Merksplas,20 detainees started a hunger strike on 10th of November 2016
They protest again:
-Insufficient food « enough of the cheese »
-Daily and systematic searches
-Racism and ill-treatment « we are not animals »
-The disrespect of human rights
-The systematic placements in confinement cells
« It’s much worse than prison here, it is real torture.”
« The system is not functioning.”
« The Foreigners Office manages everthing and has all powers on us, they are responsible for tortures.”
« Why does the State leave them all this power without protesting?”
All these accounts, along with the dozens that we receive weekly, illustrate the deterioration of the “survival conditions” in the detention centres, in Belgium and in the rest of the European Union, as exposed in a recent report by Migreurop, “Migrant detention in the European Union : a thriving business” (http://www.migreurop.org/article2762.html?lang=en).
Regarding Belgium, the report states: “While closed centres are managed by the public sector, private companies are also engaged for certain services related to the operation of centres and the care of detainees. Catering, cleaning and technical services can be outsourced to private companies. Access to doctors and medicine is also delegated to the private sector via calls for tender open to independent doctors and pharmacies”.