« Here it is not about closed centre for illegals anymore. It is about illegal prisons, torture and detentions.”
For more than a year, Theo Francken has been declaring through the press that he is deporting ‘undocumented criminals’.
In the centres, where they are often gathered, repression is impressive for these retainees who cry out at injustice, who often do not understand, who think they paid for their offenses and that they deserve to stay in a country where they have been living for 10, 20, sometimes 30 years, that they have families, children and friends whom they don’t want to leave. They show a lot of solidarity with the codetainees who are declared criminals without reason, with others who have children here, with others whose arrest is ‘illegal’.
A few examples :
Hamid (alias) was a child when he arrived in Belgium with his parents. Between 18 and 20 years old, he was convicted twice. They were celebrating with friends and at the end of the night they were totally drunk and stole a bag and a wallet.
« At that time we were only thinking about the money we didn’t have and which others had in profusion.” When out of jail he realises that he has to live differently, according to the rules, and he searches more serious friends. He lives a normal life, he works and doesn’t drink anymore. One day, they call him at the police station: they make him sign a document certifying that he is ready to return to his country and the police cut his identity card and throw it away. A few months later during a control he is arrested as undocumented and brought to the closed centre! He is 23 years old. His crime: temporarily deviating from our standards without thinking too much.
A man from Somalia in Belgium since 2010 spent one month in prison. From there they take him to the closed centre in Bruges in view of a deportation to Somalia. He spends more than 8 months there and he released. The van of the centre drives him to Bruges train station (thank you!) but 10 minutes later the police control him on the platform: they bring him to the police station and retain him at the Caricole, still in view of deporting him to Somalia. His crime: he cannot be expelled.
A man was accused of theft and arrested. He spent several days in prison and was released because he was acquited by the judge for the facts that were reproached to him. But the police was in front of the prison, waiting to bring him to a closed centre, seen his ‘criminal record’. He spent 4 months there and was transferred to another centre for disciplinary reason: indeed, he never hesitates to make remarks when he witnesses injustice. He spent 13 months there, always quiet. it seems that 13 is the number that brings you to confinement cell and transfer! He got 2 tickets for deportation, each time cancelled because his ‘country of origin’ doesn’t deliver let passes. He has been living here for 22 years and all his frends and family are living here. His crime: a complaint he lodged against policy brutality.
Words by prisoners
« I would be ok to pay if I had done something ‘wrong’ but I am being retained here for no reason!’
A young boy from Molenbeek in a closed centre
« I arrived here with my parents. I was a child. I did everything to integrate but you who didn’t want to integrate me. Therefore I did what I could to live my life differently.”
« We are here, not knowing why. »
« Stop talking about democracy and human rights. They don’t exist anymore in your country. We no longer have the right to speak, we no longer have the right to tell the truth.”
« Here it’s no longer about closed centres, it’s about illegal torture and retentions”.
« Sometimes I am scared to say things here, to tell the truth because I know it will fall back on me.”
A young Afghan retained for 10 months.
« It is crazy !!!!»