Resistance in the detention centre of Merksplas


There were 18 detainees in block 3 of the detention centre of Merksplas. 

They demanded:

– Decent food;

Trustworthy lawyers to claim the right to defend themselves;

An end to the racism of certain staff members;

– Decent medical care. 

“It is shit what we are being fed. A dog would refuse this.”

“The centre gives us lawyers who never answer. We try desperately to call, put all our credit on the phone but we never get an answer.”

“I was sick: the nurse offered me a quick Covid test and refused to let me see a doctor.”

“The management said to me: you North Africans are slaves of Europe. Blacks are slaves of the United States.” 

This Friday 15/04/2022, there was a hunger strike out of protest.After comments from the staff about this action, everything went in acceleration: some prisoners demolished furniture, one of them head-butted a guard. Everyone was shouting and throwing things. 

Two prisoners tried to calm things down. They wanted to get together to talk:“We’re not going to make it with nerves””Let’s get together and decide together.”

One of them talked to the management, but the only answer he got was the threat of confinement in isolation.  

Following this uprising, six armed and helmeted policemen arrived, called by the management.Nine detainees were locked up in an isolation cell (‘cachot’) without any resistance. This whole action was done very discretely, without shouting and without violence, so that other detainees in the other wings did not see or hear anything. “Even the windows were shielded”. 

On 18/04 the first two detainees were taken out of the isolation cell and brought to an isolation wing (a more “comfortable” cell, with TV). 

On 19/04 one of the detainees from the isolation cell got crazy because they wanted to transfer him without his belongings. He broke all kinds of things and set fire to his mattress. Armed police officers went down twice a day in this isolation wing. The detaine was put back in the isolation cell. 

On 19/04, nine people are still in isolation and some are still in the “cachot”” (number unknown). 

Several transfers are announced for the next morning. 

On 20/04 all the alleged rioters were transferred to other closed centres.

Being locked up for purely administrative reasons, simply because you do not have the “right papers”, is an injustice that is felt very strongly by detainees. In the case of ‘double peine’, who have served their sentences and are moving from the bars of one prison to the ones of the detention centre, and who are often deported far from their families and friends to a country they no longer know, the situation could hardly be more enviable. 

For whom would the lack of prospects, the almost unlimited duration of detention and the absolute arbitrariness in the centres not be daily torture?  The lack of access to their rights, the invisibility, the deplorable conditions of detention, the absolute power of the guards and the frequent racist remarks (these are their words) by certain staff members are reasons for them to rebel. 



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