On 4 January 2023, we received calls from several detainees concerning disturbing violence perpetrated by guards at the 127bis detention centre near Zaventem.
According to a first witness, the scene took place near the medical service of the centre. A detainee insists on speaking to his family and the discussion heat up when several guards jump on him and hit him violently.
Detainees who wish to testify about what happened tell us the following:
“A man was violently assaulted by six guards because he insisted on being able to talk to his family. “They tried to strangle him”; “His last words were ‘help’ and then he passed out”
From their rooms, other witnesses observe as much as they can the consequences of this beating.One of them tells us that he thought he was dead: “he was all blue and unconscious”. They saw several ambulances arrive, one specifically equipped with resuscitation equipment, as well as three police cars. “The ambulance drivers were running with oxygen tanks. It was total panic”. A reamination ambulance finally took him, presumably to a hospital. Another detainee who witnessed the incident and was protesting was also mistreated and taken to hospital.
On 8 January, there was no news of the first man who was beaten and taken to the ambulance as a result of the beatings and violence by the guards. According to our information, the co-detainees who asked for news of him received none.
The second man taken to hospital managed to escape, taking advantage of the chaos. Good luck to him!
Since then, we have had great difficulty in obtaining more information through the contacts we have with some of the detainees at the centre. The phones of the direct witnesses who had warned us are cut off: one of them had told us “I will probably go to the cachot following my call but I don’t care. You have to know.”
This situation is most worrying and is emblematic of the violence suffered by the people locked up. This testimony confirms that people detained in closed centres are subjected to violence by the guards. The violence was so severe that two people had to be transferred to hospital. No information was given to warn the other detainees.
It is also disturbing that we have no news of the people who testified to this violence (probably put in solitary confinement, according to their testimony) and, more generally, no information about this violence. Physical and psychological violence is a daily reality for people in closed centres. It is essential to denounce them and to put an end to the detention of all.
Freedom of movement and settlement
No closed centre