Testimonyin English of a man who was in Merksplas during a hongerstrike in september 2013
So, I was for 2 months in Merksplas, and during these two months what I see, it’s a place they call centre but it is more a prison, because we have no right to anything.
You don’t get good food, the place is not clean, people get sick. Many people get sick, they go to the doctor, and they are being told that they’re lying that they have to go away. That’s always what they say to the people, and they make people feel bad.
And there was a plan that no one would eat because the food was just cheese and bread. In the meantime they gave us other food, but sometimes it’s cold, sometimes it’s dry, you cannot eat it, and sometimes the food is even old. For this reason everybody in my block said we are not eating. So 40 people are not eating. Then we said that to the director, and the director started to bring us the police and they said to us if you people are not eating I will show you how you do it. The police started to beat the people, they beat two people and brought them to an isolation cell.
I told the director that this is not good what I see here in this prison, if people ask about their rights, they bring the police.
These things you see in Nigeria, Egypt, in this kind of country. We are in Europe, they call it democracy, human rights, but people can not ask anything.
The director asked me to make a list of what the people want to change. I said OK, I made the list and on Monday 1.30 I had a moment with him, I gave him the list, he said it’s jut not about the list, we have other problems with you, you have to go to the an isolation cell because you are the leader. If people are not eating they put everybody in confinement. So they threat us with that.
After two days in isolation, they transferred me to the centre in Bruges.
People are getting sick because of the system, what they do is not to make you relax, if they can deport you, they deport you, if they can leave you free, they leave you free.
What they do wiht us to make us tired, they do everything to convice us to go back and say I want to go back to my country, I want everything to go back to my country.
The politics in the centre is that they make people sick, they make people tired. The director told me ‘You people are illegal in this country, you don’t have any right in this country you can not ask for anything in this country’.
What I heard from the director is not normal.
When you ask them something they tell you that you are talking too much and that you may not stay here in this place.
Even in other places, when people ask for their rights they put them in confinement.
In Bruges, one night I heard from the other people that one guy was not eating, I don’t know the reason, but they put him in confinement. You don’t eat you are automatically put in an isolation cell.