Friday 16 December 2016, 6 p.m., block 4, Merksplas closed centre: the retainees are not happy. Despite several talks with the management about meals, notably dinner, when they invariably get cheese with two slices of bread at 6 p.m and nothing more until the morning after, a few refused to eat.
The reaction of the centre: quickly find someone who can be designated as responsible for the protestation movement, isolate them and install a climate of threat. The man who was placed in solitary confinement is 35 years old and suffers from diabetes for which we had called for the visit of an external doctor. According to his co-retainees, he would be continuing his hunger strike in his confinement cell, which is extremely worrying seen his health state.
One retainee tells us:
‘At 5 a.m. we could hear noises; they came to fetch a man for 48 hours of confinement because they said it was him who organised the strike.’
‘You can not defend yourself here, anyway, here no one believes you. All they say is : these are the rules. So the principle of the rules is that no one believes you, it is exaggerated!’
‘It is Merdeplas here, a great mafia – manager, head of area etc who do what they want! They treat us like bin bags.’
Another one, in Belgium for 31 years and three Belgian children. Retained in Merksplas for 2 months after 68 months in jail. ‘It is very hard in Merksplas, we are retained in a forest, we are far from everything, some did not commit any crime, and for me and others it is a second free sentence!’
Another one has a 14 months baby and a girlfriend waiting for him in Belgium. So, from time to time, in front of the absurdity of the situation, he expresses all his anger: ‘I feel like a fish in a bowl here, I don’t have anything to do, therefore I think… I need my son but there is nothing I can do, I break down and cry or shout, it is tough.’