Groeps foto from closed centre
They came to Europe 5, 10, 15 or 20 years ago. They built their lives here, some with documents, others clandestinely. Some have children who were born here. They all worked legally or illegally. Some have been retained for 4, 7 or even 8 months. Some had troubles with their ‘integration’ and committed minor acts of delinquency or resistance for which they were condemned by our courts.
They were arrested at their homes, during a traffic control or in public transports, and brought to the 127bis centre by order of the Foreigners’ Office.
They say it is a complete disaster in the centres, they are ill-treated, like animals, without respect, and threatened with deportation.
Together, they all decided to go on a hunger strike on 22nd of April 2016. They think it is outrageous.
They do not want to be separated from their families and friends and to be sent to a country they barely know, only because Mr Francken chose that country as being their ‘country of origin’ and because some were judged as ‘criminals’.
On the 23rd of April, about 40 of them still were on hunger strike with the support of those who started to feed themselves again.
Here are a few testimonies we got:
‘We want freedom!’
A lot of people say they are shocked to see that families are separated. They think it is unbelievable that mothers/fathers can be separated from their small children. They say that even a criminal doesn’t find himself living in a different country than their children, without being able to know what their children become. They say we must denounce that, and that people will be shocked to know that such a situation is possible in a country like Belgium.
‘Where are the children rights in these forced separations?’
‘Where is the respect of family life?’
‘Retention periods are extremely long. Some of us have been here for months, almost a year, with no decision. One year of our life is taken away from us for no reason’.
‘I have been in the closed centre for 8 months and they will prolong it for 2 months!.
‘We ask the dossiers of everybody to be seriously and deeply reviewed. Currently it is the total chaos.’
‘Belgians have to know what is going on here, we are treated like animals’.
‘It is the authorities that are criminal, not us.’
Mise en scene in 127bis