Joint deportations to Guinea and Senegal:24/04/2013

For several weeks, Guinean and Senegalese people had been detained in Belgian closed centres. We heard a lot of testimonies during that detention period, both from the people concerned and from worried co-detainees.

It was not that difficult to see something was in the air: transfers, solidarity movements, nationalities being concentrated, systematic arrests at the Foreigners Office, etc. We were getting successive calls from all the centres for two weeks, reporting desperate situations and acts.

‘It is a plot organised by the Guinean government and the Belgian Foreigners Office against us’.
‘Undocumented or documented: still human beings’.
‘I don’t understand all these transfers, there must be a reason!’

The participants to the documented and undocumented migrants march had already sounded the alarm during their march across the country.

‘A man of Guinean origin detained in the Vottem centre tried to hang himself. He had taken all the precautions to succeed: he had blocked the camera and chosen a moment when nobody was there. A co-detainee passed by accident and could save him narrowly.’

‘At the centre in Bruges, one guy detained for a week is in an extremely altered psychological state. He was arrested at Charleroi airport on his way back from Greece where had had been spending four years. His co-detainees try to do their best to surround him. ‘

Faced with this situation, many worried and tried to alert the NGOs concerned. Only a few answered, expressing their doubts on the information, and firstly requiring that it’d be confirmed.

The detainees concerned were desperate and angry not to be listened to. It was a collective distress call that just a few were willing to answer.

18 people started a hunger strike at the 127bis closed centre:
‘It is the only way for us to fight’
‘Documented or undocumented: we are all human beings’
‘We need help from the outside to continue our fight’

The Guinean community of Brussels demonstrated in front of the 127bis closed centre to oppose this discrimination, closed centres and deportations in general. One could feel the tension inside the centre and the police called for calm several times, for fear of destruction inside.

Progressively, Guinean and Senegalese people are being brought on April 21st, 22nd and 23rd from the different Belgian closed centres to the one of Steenokkerzeel and to le Caricole. It is co-detainees who felt something was wrong, that this was not going to be a ‘single’ deportation.

‘Several mini-vans bring dozens of detainees from the different centres to the 127bis centre in order to plan their deportation from the military aiport in Melsbroeck’ said some prisoners.

Transfers are sometimes extremely violent:

‘A Guinean man in Vottem refused his transfer: a nurse gave him an injection, he was handcuffed, scotch-taped on a wheelchair, they put a helmet over his head, and he was brought to the Caricole centre. They put him in an isolation cell until his deportation. The eyewitness of this violence also got deported and we are still without news from him.’

24/04 D Day

In the evening of 24/04, before the joint deportation, the whole area around Caricole and 127bis was locked down by the police according to some information we got.

The day after, Wednesday 24/04, ‘a huge military caravan’ says one detainee, ‘came to the closed centre with several buses and 15 police cars.
They came in high security to bring these candidates to exile and take them back to Africa’.

They will be put by force on a ‘joint flight’ at 10 a.m this Wednesday in Melsbroeck airport, deported handcuffed, tied up and each one of them escorted by three or four police officers.

Over ten of them could not fly because the plane was full so they were brought back to their respective closed centres.

One detainee in the closed centre wanted to interpose himself when the guards came to pick up the belongings of a friend who was going to be deported: he was put in an isolation cell during 24 hours.

Everthing was programmed and organised to avoid any reaction or movement of contesting, with the repression that goes with these processes ‘as if they were at war against us!’.

Different testimonies were given on the way the police behaved:
‘blows and violence at the time of the transfers’
‘violence when boarding, some got injured’
‘we were tied up to the seats and remained handcuffed during the whole journey’

Testimony from one deported man

Another testimony:

The majority of hunger strikers have been deported. The others are desperate and stopped their strike.
‘I’m desperate, getting nuts, don’t know if I can make it through’

There are a dozen Guinean and Senegalese people left in the 127bis closed centre and probably some more in the other centres.

In 127bis, one of them is outraged, another one is overwhelmed and doesn’t know what to do anymore, and a third one has been isolated for several days because of serious health degradation. His co-detainees are extremely worried and ask for assistance.

Some of the deported detainees gave them some news, they found their families back, while they stay without news from the others, which they find very worrying.

Here are the explanations by M. Freddy Roosement, Director of the Foreigners Office:
“The issue with Guineans who request asylum in Belgium remains a preoccupaton for the Guinean and Belgian governements as well as for the International Organisation for Migration” had said M. Roosemont at the beginning of April in Conakry.
In 2013, in the first three months, the Office recorded 442 asylum requests from Guinea against 444 requests from Afghanistan. According to M. Roosemont, this high demand by Guineans can be explained by the role of illegal networks that encourage people to get into illegal cases of asylum requests.”

Last words by the deported:
    ‘We are not livestock’
    ‘One day Europe will pay for this’
    ‘Stop imposing us this capitalism first’
    ‘We all are human beings’
    ‘Even our dignity is not being respected’
’30 deported today and 50 new asylum requests by Guineans this week!’

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