More than 20 Sudanese and Somalis in our closed centres

05/08/2017: Francken discovered two countries he didn’t know: Sudan and Somalia.

Since almost a year, migrants – mainly Sudanese and Eritreans, have been sleeping in the Maximilien Parc in Brussels.
Associations and volunteers try to provide them with food and sleeping bags since their arrival.
Politicians and NGOs suggest lodging proposals, “selection or pre-welcoming centre”, which will look like hot spots rather than lodging.
Francken announces “arrests and returns to the countries of origin”.
In front of the concentration of migrants in the parc, harassments and intimidations have been organised by the communal and federal police, followed by repeated raids, early in the morning, of around hundred people, all this accompanied by thefts of valuable objects (mobile phones, etc), intimidation/ban on serving meals, dispersion and arrests of the most recalcitrant, not to mention asset forfeiture, occupation of the parc by the police during the day, preventing the migrants to come back etc.
After pressure and negotiations, these raids and police presence have become less frequent over the last weeks.

However, this doesn’t mean that Francken’s promise to “place all of them in closed centres and deport them to their countries of origin” is no longer on the agenda.

We heard that between 20-30 people, mainly Sudanese, 2 women among them, were arrested the last weeks around train stations and that they have been placed in closed centres. Some of them have been there for serveral weeks, others have just arrived!

Instead of carrying out visible actions, the Foreigners Office have adopted a more discreet method and they arrest them around train stations and public spaces, when they are isolated and far away from witnesses’ eyes.

One has to know that during controls, several nationalities are designated and brought to closed centres so as to be deported. They are chosen according to existing agreements or tensions between Belgium and the countries concerned, according to the nationalities present on our territory or according to Francken’s moods.
Thus, Algerians have been languishing in jail for months because the Secretary of State tries in vain to obtain a ‘return agreement’ with Algeria.
Thus, Congolese are being retained and sometimes deported (a lot of opponents to the current regime) most likely following ‘secret agreements’ with Kabila’s regime.
Thus, lots of Cameroonians are being arrested and deported following the agreements recently signed with Cameroon and, many of them are put in jail as soon as they arrive to Cameroon because they left the country to request asylum in Europe.

And thus, insidiously, far away from any witness, the Foreigners office target Sudanese and Somalis, arrest them and retain them to try and deport them.

Some retainees are ‘Dublinised’ and should be sent back to the country where they left their fingerprints, often Italy; a country that struggles a lot to deal with asylum requests. They will find themselves on the street, and if they are dismissed, they will be deported to Sudan, since Italy signed a ‘return agreement’ with Sudan. Movements and demonstrations by citizens and undocumented against this ‘Dublin’ agreement are ongoing in several European countries (Germany, France, etc.).

Most of the retainees who were arrested over the last weeks refuse to request asylum in Belgium:
“They say that we should request asylum but I don’t want to request asylum from the centre, it is too complicated. Hence they explained to me that they would ask for a let pass, but I know it is very hard to get it, I doubt they get it, therefore I don’t request asylum for the moment, they will extend my stay every two months.”
“ All the people from Sudan here, none of them wants to request asylum, life is better in England, here it is hell, even if you have documents the police is always after you.”

The closed centre refuses to appoint a lawyer to some of them: ‘You may not have a lawyer yet, first we have to find a translator’.

As usual, the Office and the Secretary of State only have one answer to these travellers: intimidation and repression!
Some will be sent back to the European country where they left their fingerprints (Dublin) and will continue their migratory road to the country they have chosen. Ohters will remain in our closed centres for months, labelled “Dublin Belgium” and they will be obliged in fine to request asylum in Belgium if they want to find their freedom again, although Belgium is not the country they had chosen.

We can not allow it to happen. These migrants travelled thousands of kilometers to find a better future, their migratory route passed by Brussels, but NOT to find themselves imprisoned in an endless administrative trap which was built by Europe to prevent the ‘foreign’ human being from travelling.



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