Ongoing repression and sufferings. Countless confinements, suicide attempts and transfers in all the centres. Also a lot of extremely rapid deportations to countries of Eastern Europe.
Mainly Moroccans and Algerians currently in closed centres for several months, sometimes even a year!
We hear a lot about issues related to paternity. Notably the example of a man who has a registered child (with a birth certificate) having to go through a DNA test in order to prove his paternity after a decision by a judge. That request will firstly be rejected by the centre.
Besides their willingness to be free, the retainees claim for their rights and mainly their rights to health and legal assistance, of which they are regularly deprived.
Covid measures are stil in force. Retainees are very few compared to the places available, and their contacts are limited. According to several testimonies, the wearing of masks and the distanciation measures are rarely respected by the staff.
In Merksplas :
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, any newcomer is automatically installed in block 5 which is the isolation unit. They are alone in a cell that really looks like a dungeon.
Two Covid tests are planned at the beginning and end of their retention in block 5. After one week, they are brought back together with the other retainees.
Every day, the isolated retainees only have the right to two walks of one hour each, alone in a cage of 7m x 3m, with fences even above their heads. The cages are aligned and they may sometimes speak to each other from one cage to the other.
In Merksplas, they currently are around 40 for 146 places. Many already served a sentence in prison and are now under the double penalty regime https://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/double-penalty-or-banishment-a-peculiar-method-of-racism/. Some have been retained for almost a year. Some are known fathers of Belgian nationality.
A woman host explains the situation of a man in a testimony on 15 September.
“It seems that he was told he had to wait for the end of quarantine to hire a lawyer. After that deadline he was told that it was too late, that the 3 days had passed.
They gave him 5€ credit for his phone but they refused to give him the paper with my phone number on it.
Hence he remained confined for the time of his quarantine and then spent a certain amount of time with the others. They sent him back to Germany the day before yesterday and he came back to Belgium yesterday.”
Suicide attempt after serious racist comments:
“A man retained for 7 months in a centre took a lot of drugs in the night of 18 September and yesterday too, after heavy racist comments by one guard. This morning they found him unconscious and 5 guards carried him to a confinement cell in block 5”.
Words by retainees:
“I cost you 200 euros per day. These migration policies are a real business, it is incredible, I already costed you 40,000 euros!”
“I don’t want documents, I want to LIVE! No one is illegal, neither am I.”
“I’ve always been illegal. That’s how I live and it never prevented me from living!”
In the 127 bis :
They are around 20 for 120 places. Many isolations and transfers as soon as they claim for their rights, even when they do so in a polite way. But it is complete rebellion when they are ill-treated: “Sorry, but if they are arrogant with me, I can be too.”
In Bruges :
They are around 12 for 112 places. The requests we get are mainly requests for medical assistance. In front of the deprivation of liberty that the State imposes on them, they are claiming for their right to health.
We currently have very few contacts with them. Last month, they were 4 women for 60 places.
A young Romanian girl, 19 years old only, was deported to Romania only one week after her arrival although all her family is living legally in France.
NO TO CLOSED CENTRES !
NO TO DEPORTATIONS !