For several weeks the tension has been very high in the centre. Several retainees have gone on hunger strike, rebellions have started etc. Retainees have very few means to resist, each movement being sanctioned. The staff (guards, management, social assistants) then resorts to blackmailing, threats of all kinds, they place the retainees in confinement cells, organise transfers and plan surprise deportations.
A few retainees are calling us from the 127 bis closed centre in Steenokkerzeel after the isolation of a man who has been retained for 7 months.
On Sunday, the latter took advantage of the fact that the kitchen was open to grab something to eat and drink outside the authorized hours. They violently took him to confinement. His mates protested but in vain.
They all tell us that they get very few to eat and that the staff treats them like animals.
« It’s a real jungle here”.
« Everybody has had enough.»
« We all get pills to calm down. Some have become zombies after taking too many pills. »
« They (the staff) have a phobia about foreigners, it is discrimination.”
« Why does the staff get cold water in bottles whereas we have to drink water from the tap when the weather is so warm ? »
« We still are human beings! »
Thirty of them have signed a petition, calling to meet the centre management.
They protest against their imprisonment, against their living conditions, and they ask for the release of their friend.
« According to the centre regulations, of which we could get a copy, this man should have received a warning and he shouldn’t have been violently put in a confinement cell.”
In the second wing of the 127bis, one night around 2 a.m., the retainees were concerned for a man who had breathing difficulties. They called the security who wanted to lock the man in a confinement cell while waiting for the doctor the day after. All the retainees refused he’d be locked seen his state. In the end, under pressure, the guards accepted to leave the door of his cell open during the night.
« They keep violating the law”
« It’s hatred »
At the Merksplas closed centre, many who have been retained for 5, 7, 8, sometimes even 11 months.
People in these centres with whom we have contacts at the moment are the so-called ‘criminals’ whom our Secretary of State for Migration, Theo Francken, is hoping to deport. They find themselves in a new prison for an indefinite time in view of a deportation after having served their sentence. Some have been in closed centres for 5, 7, 8, sometimes even 11 months. They say they have been retained without any trial and they find it unfair. They served their sentence, paid their debts, and find themselves in prison again. Those who have been retained for months are coming from countries that refuse to take their nationals back and they do not deliver let passes, which are needed for a deportation. Despite the impossibility to deport them, they are kept in prison during extremely long periods, without any trial… they are extremely angry.
« They are looking for troubles, and they will find them” they say.
At the Caricole, an attempt to escape sadly failed because of another retainee who denounced it!
They were several, during the night of the 29th, who tried to escape through a window cut with a piece of glass. But they had no time to do so
since one of their co-retainees went to warn the guard. Two of them were placed in solitary confinement.
One of them has finally been totally released after the successful appeal by his lawyer against his deportation.
The second one has been transferred to Merksplas after two days in solitary confinement. He may mix with the other retainees during the day
but not during the night.
Wall after wall, brick after brick, window after window, let¹s break down all prisons.