“We are living like animals here” and suicide attempt in closed center

 20/12 Our Brazilian friend detained in Merskplas since October had been released by the Court this morning on 20/12. He was really happy. But then the news fell: he will have to stay in Merksplas and go to see new judges in 15 days who will decide on his release. After the feeling of sudden rage he pulled himself together and decided to continue fighting.


12/12:   How suicide attempts are dealt with in closed centres: last week-end he was desperate and tried to commit suicide by swallowing loads of pain killers. He fell into a coma and was placed in an isolation medical cell for several days. Once out of danger they put him into solitary confinement for 24 hours. In jail he again attempted suicide with a fork and is mutilated neck and arms

Testimony of this young Brazilian student detained in the closed centre of Merksplas, taken  on 26/11/2012 .

Ici, on vit comme des chiens

So, you are being detained in the closed centre of Merksplas. Can you tell us what happened, why you are there and since when?

I was home on October 17th when three police officers from Braine l’Alleud came without warrant of arrest, they did not say anything and they took me to the police station of Braine l’Alleud.

There one police officer told me things like “We are in Nivelles here Sir, people are massacred like bastards. You foreigners, you come to Belgium to create mayhem”. In the morning you get a spade and you dig a hole for yourself.

I was accused of robbing a Chinese restaurant and that is why they contacted the Foreigners Office who directly gave me the order to leave the territory.

I was brought to the closed centre of St Hubert. I stayed there for five days,  these were the worse five days of my life. In the morning you wake up early, you stay in the cell during the night, and several hours a day you do military exercices, your whole body hurts, and they left me with no food, no water to drink, no possibility to go to the toilet for 24 hours.

On October 22nd I went to the Court of Justice. The judge released me and told me “Sir, we do not have any evidence, you are free to leave, you may go and live with your family”.

They took me downstairs, in the Court of Justice they have glass cells. The policemen who were busy doing a transfer told me “Sir we have a transfer to the closed centre for illegals in Merskplas and you must go there”.

I arrived on the 22nd at 06:00 p.m. Today we are the 26th, I have been here for one month and several days. Honestly, people are living like animals here. The food is not good. We have bread and jam for breakfast and dinner, for lunch we have a normal meal, but we sleep when they decide so, we go outside to take some fresh air when they decide so, we live as they decide… If they say go and sit down, you go and sit down, like animals…

At the Foreigners Office, they really are racist. The judge considered that I was a minor but they decided I was not.

I was registered in a school here in Belgium. The French Community know me as a student and I have different documents attesting that I am going to school, that I have good marks etc.
My whole family is living here in Belgium, I don’t have anyone in Brazil.

The Foreigners Office told me to leave, they don’t care about my age, they say I must leave.

I have all my family here, my life is here in Belgium. If I go there, where am I going to sleep? How am I going to eat? I don’t even have one euro in my pockets… I don’t have a house, I don’t have family there, where am I going to sleep, in the airport?

Is life difficult in Merksplas?

Yes, life is really hard because the building is too old. We have three bedrooms in the bloc, each  for seven people, but it is impossible to sleep at night because these seven people snore a lot!

Laughters…

Well, is it not funny!

No, definitely not.

If I want to sleep, there are 8 people snoring at the same time…

They are very strict here, i.e for anything they will put you in an isolation cell for 24 hours.

OK… we will stop the interview here.

OK no problem. I would just like you to add to the interview that I am a student in music production.

All right, talk to you very soon.

Thank you, goodbye

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