I never understood why I am here

28 January 2011 – Telephone conversation with a detainee during an action in front of the Merksplas detention centre

I am here at the Merksplas centre.

I have been imprisoned since 16 September, that’s 4 months and 17 days. And why? Yes, for nothing.

I often ask myself why. I say: “Free me! Let me wait for a response from the commission.” But they tell me I’ll remain locked up until I get my response.

I often ask myself: I can work, so they can give me papers. I did work, I want an official contract, to pay taxes. That’s nearly 2 and a half years I have been here now.

A policewoman said to me: “Come to the police station so we can talk.” And as soon as I got to the police station they stopped me and brought me here. But I haven’t committed any crime, I am normal.


I worked in Aartselaar. An official job. Do you know Aartselaar?

We have a little café there, totally official. I worked there for 2 and a half years legally. I made the official request to work in the café.

I don’t understand, and I ask myself all the time why I am here, locked in a centre. I really don’t understand.

Sometimes I think it is because I don’t speak Dutch well enough. Why did I learn Dutch?

Everyday I am in contact with people. Everyday I am around Belgians.

I requested my papers.

I waited for the response to arrive at my door, but they imprisoned me.

On 16 September, I went to the police station. My brother-in-law was waiting for me outside. They said told him I had left. But I was there.

I haven’t done anything wrong. I have been here for 2 and a half years and I live with respect.

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