Can you shut down detention centres?

9th March 2011 : Phone conversation with a Congolese lady who has just gone through an expulsion after having spent four months in a detention centre. She is now in Kinsasha.

Listen to the interview (FR) :


– Can you tell me a bit how it happened?

I was escorted. I still have pain in my back and stomach because of the escort. They gave me an escort so that I wouldn’t be able to move. There were lots of policemen in the plane.

– Did they tie your arms and legs?


– And did they carry you into the plane or did you walk?

The escort carried me into the plane. I cried, I was saying: “what did I do? I haven’t done anything wrong! Is this only because of the papers?”

They said: “No, you have to leave!” They were so many of them!

– And what did they tell you?

“You won’t stay in Belgium, you will leave, even if you cry, even if you do all that, you will go!” And I had no way of moving or making any effort in order to get out of the plane! I’m in Congo but I have no home, I have no place where I can eat! I have nothing! There is a lot of suffering here.

I didn’t steal, I didn’t cheat, I didn’t kill, I haven’t sold any drugs…but they told me: ”You are not in order, you will leave Belgium!”

– How long were you living in Belgium?

I lived in Belgium for four years! Before, I had the orange card. My request for regularisation is currently underway. I’m still waiting for their answer; I don’t know what they will do with that.

– And didn’t you want to return to Congo?

I didn’t want to go back to Congo! But with the escort, and since I was alone…I stayed 4 months and 13 days in the 127bis detention centre! 4 months and 13 days!

– Was it difficult?

Yes, it was very hard, we didn’t eat well, there was no soap…it is real suffering. Those who are still there are suffering incredibly! Every evening, there is only bread, bread, bread! Every night!

– And what happened in the plane? Did people not move to help you?

Yes, people were saying: “Why are you doing this to her? Leave her, leave the girl alone! She doesn’t want to return! Leave her! Because of her, we will miss our plane!”

The two policemen who were with me called for reinforcements because passengers said: “If the girl enters the plane, we will get off it and you will go alone with her!”

They called more policemen and there were many of them. So there was no way that people could speak out for me.

– Did people want to help you despite all this?

Yes, but because of the policemen, they stayed in their places. Me, I cried and I cried all the way back to Congo!

– And were they violent with you during the expulsion?

Yes, they forced me to enter the plane! They didn’t want people to see me! They were hiding me, they were a lot of them, they stood around me so that people wouldn’t see me.

– And now, are you in Kinshasa?

Yes, they left me in the airport. They handed me over to policemen who put me in a prison cell again! They hit me, they were violent with me, really, it’s not nice! I was just released last night!

– What do you think of detention centres?

Can you close them? You’ve got to close them, they’re not a good thing, not nice! Can you please shut down detention centres? You can close them and leave people alone! I was there, I tell you, and it’s not good. The people who are still there are suffering!

– OK, we will talk about it but it’s not easy…are you ok?

Yes, ok, thank you.

I wish you a lot of courage.

Thank you!

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