21/03/2021: 127 bis – Hunger strikes, self-injuries, screams of despair and anger on the rise
They are around 50 in the centre: asylum seekers, undocumented, some arrested on their work place, some suspected of fake marriage (white or grey), a 62 years old man retained for 4 months, a Portuguese man with an employment contract in Belgium, a Palestinian from Gaza who is very sick, 5 men from the DRC threatened with deportation to their country of ‘origin’, etc.
There seems to be a great solidarity among all of them. They are all very worried about a Palestinian man in hunger strike for several days. The latter would have no lawyer, just like a few others retained for several months who do not have access to a lawyer whereas the managers of the centre should provide them with juridical assistance upon arrival!
Eight people also started a 24 hours hunger strike on Friday 12 March to protest against their retention and the systematic solitary confinements for those who claim for their rights (even simply to get a coffee in the morning!).
A Palestinian man has been on hunger strike for 9 days.
“No rights here”
“You are just like livestock here”
“We are with you”
“They keep us like animals here!” I
” FUCK THE POLICE”
“Here we are badly treated outside and inside, finally I think I was better off in my country”
“I stay quiet because they record your behaviour here”
“There is more staff than retained people here, and 3 directors, what for?”
“They say we are in a centre but we are in prison”
“They give us food just to keep us alive”
On 12 March, the management tells them that there is supposedly a COVID case among the retained, but when they asked to be tested, it was refused. They have no masks, the staff wear masks but they sometimes “forget” to wear them.
The retained tell us that activists came several times in front of the centre to show their support. They were extremely happy about that.
” We need help, You are always welcome “
” Every thing is bad here”
” Thanks everybody “
” We miss you “
We got a phone call from a retained during a gathering in front of the centre. “Ten guardians jumped on an Algerian man, in a “George Floyd” style, because he was shouting “FREEDOM”. “I had never seen this, and I was extremely scared!” He calls for the surveillance cameras to be seized, in the corridor where it happened between 2 and 2.30 p.m, to be able to view this aggression of Friday 12 March.
During another support gathering outside the centre, a retained asked for his chest to be photographed as well as scars following self-injury showing anger and extreme tiredness because of this unbearable situation (photo attached).
He has not eaten and almost not drunk for 5 days to denounce his retention and this place he insists in calling prison and not centre. His co-retained say that they fear for his health and that he might be falling into a coma very soon. Retained are showing intense solidarity with his situation. He knows prison in Gaza and he never thought he would find himself in prison while living in Belgium. He wants to get out of there and join his young children. They placed him in a confinement cell in the cold during 24 hours because he would have spoken too long to activists who had come to show their support at the fences of the 127bis.
Yearly march against closed centres in Vottem on 09/05/2021 by CRACPE
“NO NO NO ! WE DO NOT ACCEPT IT! We continue to oppose to illegality, closed centres for foreigners and deportations!”
Event info: https://www.facebook.com/events/434099557678718/