Some news from the closed centres and deportations in Belgium.
Arrestations and imprisonments are very very fast and most of the times arbitrary. Even though prisoners are submitted to blackmail and threats on a daily basis and many do not dare reacting to repressive situations in the centres, we’ve heard that revolts, escapes or escape attempts are frequent in these prisons.
According to the calls we receive, many people who are imprisoned have been living in our country for more than years sometimes. Their reguralisation request was rejected for purely administrative reasons or because something was unclear in their files.
We also heard that some of them have a friend, a wife, a husband or children in Belgium and that most of the time this family situation does not prevent the Foreigners Office from deporting one of them.
AT THE AIRPORT
The screening of tourists/asylum seekers is tough : the tourist who will not be able to prove his status of tourist will be detained in the Caricole centre and sent back to his country of origin manu militari. The asylum seeker is arrested and imprisoned. His asylum request is dealt with very rapidly and it is rejected as soon as there is one doubt over a detail he can not provide evidence of (e.g his nationality).
Information filter through in spite of the Foreigners Office’s considerable efforts to keep it a secret place. Many families who got arrested at the airport and a few families for whom regularisation failed are ‘living’ there.
For more info on these ‘houses’ : http://www.cire.be/thematiques/enfermement-et-expulsions/792-les-ong-evaluent-le-fonctionnement-des-maisons-de-retour
A collective flight took place on October 24th, officially with Albanian people who had recently reached Belgium. http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/charter-flight-to-albania-on-october-24-organised-by-frontex/
We learnt that among them was a man who had been living in Belgium for 15 years and was separated from his wife and 5 years old son..Another Albanian was visiting Brussels as a tourist. He has his own company in Albania and was not planning at all to stay in Belgium. He has been arrested on The Grand Place in Brussels, was taken to a closed centre and was deported in the same convoy. He had 2000 euro with him for his stay, which have disappeared!
We’ve heard that four Albanian brothers and sisters have been detained in the Caricole centre for four days, separated from their mother!
We notice that more and more often coercion is being used as of the first deportation attempt!
Hereafter information we gathered, often from acquaintances of the prisoners; prisoners themselves do not dare calling anymore for fear of being phone-tapped or of retaliation.
CLOSED CENTRE OF VOTTEM
A young Armenian has been deported. A support committee from La Louvière went to the airport to speak to the passengers. The young man could not show resistance; he was accompanied by over 15 police officers. http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/20-year-old-and-deported-fr/
CLOSED CENTRE OF MERKSPLAS
An Armenian man, 67 years old, detained in Merksplas and deported to Armenia. http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/67-years-old-and-deported-under-escort/
Here are some of his words and thoughts during his detention period in Merksplas:
He is the oldest of the centre. Very few detainees are more than 50.
Concerning the resistance inside: “There is little resistance, people are discouraged and they don’t know whom to turn to, they are also afraid of the consequences in case of protest”.
About the guards, he just bitterly compared them to a kind of Gestapo. He says there are many deportations, almost every day…
Deportation of Armenian father and son. The father is in jail, the son is waiting to be called up for his military service of two years. http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/return-is-totally-safe-really/
However, lawyers who were contacted by us say that the father’s file was ‘defendable’.
A codetainee speaks to us about a child in Merksplas. He is a young Brazilian of only 18 years old although he looks like if he was 14. He has been in Merksplas for 15 days. His parents are living in Brussels. He was violently attacked by another detainee. His codetainees had to insist towards the staff to move the attaker into another bloc. They really bear a grudge against him (one can not attack a child) and they hope they will not see him again otherwise…
Deportation of a young Afghan: his lawyer asks us to launch a call to prevent his deportation even if is too late but he wants to “have a record of this scandals somewhere”. http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/deportation-order-22-years-old-and-being-forced-to-return-to-his-country/
CLOSED CENTRE OF BRUGES:
Two Libyan newcomers introduced an asylum request and closed in centrum in Brugge. The asilum request was rejected by the CGRS because they had doubts about their origin. They show marks of torture all over their bodies, that have not been taken into consideration. As a last resort, they tried to escape from the centre. After 48 hours in a cell, one of them was transferred.
Calls from friends of women detained in Bruges :
A huge dosis of stress, loads of deportations, a lot of sick people and no appropriate care.
A 63 years old woman had to be hospitalised following heart problems and she was arrested in the hospital and brought to the closed centre. Her family went to the centre to get her medical file back, they were kicked out from the centre. Three days later, the old woman was deported to her country of origin.
A Kurdish woman who had been married when she was 16 and got 4 kids. She was repudiated by her husband and family-in-law and her children were taken away from her. They are now living with the fathers-in-law in Turkey (Kurdistan). She has been fighting for years to get her kids back and for them to be able to go to school.
Her ex-husband was living in Belgium for 12 years when she came, trying to find an agreement with him about the children care. After getting death threats from the family-in-law, she requested asylum here in Belgium. She was accommodated in an open centre during one year. Since her asylum request got rejected, she was brought to the closed centre in Bruges two months ago. This woman is desperate, she already tried several times to commit suicide. She is asking for help. If deported, she might be killed by her family-in-law.
A Kurdish/Armenian woman living in Belgium for 12 years and detained for one month was deported on October 26th.
An Armenian family with two children was arrested at 5 a.m in their house and brought to a return house in view of a deportation! They have been living in Belgum for 13 years and their children (1 and 4 years old) were born here! The “coach” menace them to go to a closed center if they do not accept there ‘volontary return”