Steenrock inside the closed centres



The annual Steenrock festival 2017 took place on 06/05/2017 in front of the Steenokkerzeel closed centre to protest against imprisonments and deportation, with concerts, public speaking, demonstration in front of the fences of the centre, testimonies by former and actual retainees.

But, first, alert from the Bruges closed centre 10/05/2017

One wing will be closed because of a criminal invasion by fleas! Transfers of retainees (not fleas) are underway!


During the Steenrock , the situation in the 127bis was extremely tense after actions of repression organised by the management and the guards of the centre : 

The day before already, a dozen of retainees had been placed in confinement cells. At least two of them were transferred to other centres. On the day of Steenrock, the men were isolated in a room that was hermetically closed, under the eye of the guards who, according to several testimonies, were extremely stressed out. It is true that the fact of being locked into a room with around 40 men deprived of all possibility to speak and circulate can be extremely stressful! They could not open the cages, could they?

« During the Steenrock, many retainees were placed in isolation, others were locked in rooms. Everything was done to avoid the contact with the militants gathered in front of the centre. All was made to control and monitor the retainees to prevent them from speaking. The police role was played by the guards ready to repress the least protest, the smallest opposition. The meetings with parliamentarians were watched and closely listened to by the guards.

“A man who had arrived to the 127bis was directly placed in a confinement cell for ‘security’ reasons in the night of the 5th of May until the end of the Steenrock »

Many wanted to speak on the phone during the festival, some could do it but they were transferred to another centre the day itself or the morning after.

On the women’s side, very few contacts. It seems that they were even more isolated and unable to contact us.

Parliamentarians entered the centre and they could discuss with some retainees. We are expecting their reactions.

it is to be noted that since the Steenrock and the militants actions during Theo Francken’s monologues in Gent and at the VUB, the retainees are forbidden to ring us and face penalties.


First the retainees are tense. The day before the Steenrock, they witnessed the extremely violent arrest of a friend by ten police officers of the federal police.

Call at 8.50 a.m on the 5th of May: ‘People are crying and shouting in the centre, they came to fetch Emmanuel K.’ ‘They said You have to leave today!” EK had not been warned, he was given no previous indication of a deportation. Hence he answered that he did not understand and that he would not leave. There came the federal police, they threw him on the ground in his room to neutralise him, they handcuffed him and took him away. They were ten police officers inside the centre, they all told us to get out of our rooms.’ 

The retainees are traumatised: ‘it is a small piece of all of us that they’ve taken away today.’ 

‘A guard burst into tears, he apologised.’ 

‘It is chaos here, it is hell this morning. A woman was shouting so hard, she fell on the floor, they brought her to the infirmary’. 

‘They went too far today!’ 

‘When they asked me to leave my room, I said ‘why should I get out if you are going to do me something legal?’ ‘I didn’t get any answer and they made me go out.’ 

‘Everybody was shouting: you are going to kill him, you are going to kill him!’ 

Then the cleaning the same day in view of the visit of the parliamentarians:

‘They had a spring cleaning at the end of the week: a company came to clean everything, we had never seen that, even the lawn was mown!’

4 parliamentarians entered the Caricole during the Steenrock :

« A woman was prevented from meeting the parliamentarians because she is feeling very bad, her situation seems to have been hidden: the guards followed her the whole afternoon, monitoring her very closely.’

‘The parliamentarians saw more or less 17 people I think. The guards were all the time by their side, spying them’.

Testimony by a Guinean deported on the 11th of May, partly read to the parliamentarians during their visit and which he would have liked to broadcast. 

‘I am of Guinean nationality and I have been retained at the Caricole centre for almost two months. I am very seriously ill and after a medical exam the doctor of the centre confirmed that I have the sickle-cell disorder. After the consultation on Monday the 26th of April, I got a prescription that says I have to take specific pills. However, in spite of all this my health doesn’t get better. I had several crises here at the centre because of my illness. According to my analyses, competences are lacking as well as adequate material to cure the people. I keep losing weight, everything I eat I vomit. The staff of the Caricole is laughing at me and my health! Despite my poor health they want to deport me. I am asking for support to associations. Thank you.’  

A flight with escort was foreseen for him on the 11th of May, and then it was cancelled because he was deemed “not fit to fly”. The doctor of the centre modified the certificate so as to make him “fit to fly”. He was deported with escort to Guinea. The staff of the centre is disgusted (sic) !

In the caricole centre, the parliamentarians discovered deprived people, incapable to defend themselves, often without lawyers. Some were astounded! They saw 8 Palestinians from Gaza and 4 Vietnamese (3 women and 1 man), victims of human trafficking, according to the information they got. They also saw several Congolese people living in Belgium for several years and that the police fetched at their house early in the morning several weeks ago.

In all the closed centres the retainees are angry, upset, sad, unhappy, depressed, tired, discouraged. They are the object of a blind repression and treated like ‘beasts’ as many are syaing. They were deported manu militari to their ‘country of origin’.

Incomprehensible imprisonments 

‘I did not choose to be illegal’ 

‘They want to drag me down, I can feel it. Why are they keeping me here, I don’t want to stay in Belgium, I just would like to go back to Italy. I had a residence permit in Italy.” 

‘What’s this? I came here to work and send money to my parents who are old and extremely poor. I am clean, clear, all in order. What’s this? Why are they retaining me?’ 

‘This is not legal, this is not democracy, it is unfair, I am angry!’ 

‘it is like a cemetery here, one is dying day after day. People are suffering…’ 

‘I am ok to go back to my country, it is not such a big disaster, but I don’t want to be separated from my children.’ 

‘We are waiting. We do not know what they are going to do with us.’

There are countless hunger strikes in the different centres, countless escape plans, countless rioting attempts, countless solidarity movements within the centres. 

The retainees do not understand this imprisonment because they are asylum seekers, regularisation seekers, sick, asking for a life of rights and dignity’.

News of the day 14th of May: 3 new closed centres will be built for OUR security, in other words, ‘they are ALL dangerous’ dixit Francken.

No to closed centres, no to deportations! 

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