Sidelined by the centre’s guards in order to deport him by surprise, he resisted the violence of the police and his deportation.

Last Thursday 28 september 2023 at midday, S, aged 52, was tired because of several illnesses (cholesterol, syphilis, high blood pressure, etc.) and the fact that he had been locked up in a detention centre since January. It was then that the guards at 127bis offered him the chance to retire to a room alone to rest, they said. In fact, it was a trap laid in order to deport him imminently. S tells us: “It’s a serious lack of respect, they’ve betrayed me”. 

The next day, plain-clothes federal police officers took him by force, handcuffed him and told him they were leaving for Zaventem airport, before telling him on the way that they were taking him to Charleroi airport. S asked to see the flight ticket and the pass from the embassy of Algeria, his country of origin. His only reply was: “It’s none of your business, it’s the law, that’s the way it is!”

At the back of the plane, a total of six plainclothes policemen surrounded him, mistreating him and preventing him from breathing. One of them stood in front of him to hide from the passengers the violence his colleagues were inflicting on his body. “As I sat down, I shouted for help in French and then in English. They pressed my head down as hard as they could, then released me just as I was starting to lose consciousness”, testifies S. Witnessing the scene, a shocked passenger stood up and questioned the police officers: “Are you police officers or criminals? A policeman replied: “It’s none of your business, it’s the law!””What law? Can’t you see that this man is dying!” replied the passenger.

The pilot then intervened and the flight attendant asked the police to stop and get S out of the plane, while expressing her anger: “The man is turning white, he’s changing colour. He’s going to die. The pilot wants him out of the plane!” 
When he got out, he couldn’t walk. Once back in the airport, he was put in a cell for two hours in his boxer shorts, then transferred to another detention centre. He was moved to the Merksplas centre after having to face a final threat from one of the attacking police officers: “you can wait for me next time”.

After this attempted deportation, S contacted the Algerian consulate in Brussels, which told him that it had never given him a laissez-passer. 

S’s testimony shows us once again the succession of racist acts of violence suffered by undocumented migrants facing deportation: the violence of the Foreign Office, which decides to detain a man for more than eight months for the sole reason that the State is refusing him a residence permit; the violence of the staff at the detention centre, who are prepared to lie in order to collaborate effectively in a deportation; and the enraged police officers of the Federal Escort Police. Jozef Chovanec was also murdered at Charleroi airport in 2018 by federal police officers. 

This testimony also tells us about the repressive and underhand strategies put in place to undermine all forms of legitimate resistance by people fighting for their freedom: lies and traps in the centre, invisibilisation of physical violence on the plane, threats, transfer to another centre, etc. 

In support of S, and without forgetting all those detained, we call for his immediate release so that he can join his family (brother, sisters, cousin, etc.) who live in Belgium.

Down with detention centres, borders and their world!

Freedom for all!

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