Testimonies after the evacuation of the 127bis closed centre

On Friday 26th January at 10 p.m. : the alert is given in the 127bis because of smoke due, according to the media, to a short-circuit in an electric cabin :https://www.rtbf.be/info/belgique/detail_evacuation-du-centre-127-bis-a-la-suite-d-un-court-circuit?id=9823196

All the retainees were displaced in the courtyard. The police and firemen hastened up.

The retainees stayed in the courtyard until 3 a.m. After that, several police buses and vans arrived. All the retainees were handcuffed and placed into the buses and vans. Our witness arrived in one of these buses, escorted by police cars to the closed centre of Merksplas at 5.30 a.m. still handcuffed. He got his belongings back at 11 a.m! Our witness is very traumatised seen the lack of space (100 spaces less on that day), he might be released, anyway, no new retentions in closed centres these days, he says!

Another testimony: a man rings us, HAPPY! I had rarely heard so much joy! He heard that the 127bis had to be evacuated. He had spent 5 months there before being transferred a few days before the events. He is giggling and telling us: ‘100 spaces less, 100 prisoners less!”

Lastly, testimony by S, on the women side at the 127bis:
27/01 11 am : They were taken out from 10 p.m till 3 or 4 a.m. We got blankets around midnight. There were several benches but not enough spaces to sit for everybody, hence some had to remain standing. They were extremely cold. Some had not come out with the adequate clothes in order to stay several hours in a row outside in the night. The old woman (73 years old) was very cold; S. was transferred to the Caricole. They waited in the dining room from 4 till 6 a.m (they were still cold). Then they got a room. They did not have their belongings so they could not take a shower yet. Their phone was taken from them when they arrived to the Caricole and they only got them back now.

30/01: They got their belongings back after 2 days. There is no heating in their rooms. They can not open their windows, they open the doors on to the corridors in order to refresh the air. It is cold and the air is not breathable. Therefore, they had to suffer one night outside (10 p.m – 4 a.m) not properly dressed, plus 4 to 6 hours in a room with no heating, in addition to their daily routine without heating. Since her night outside, the old woman is not feeling well. It is still cold. Contrarily to the 127bis centre, there are no plugs at Caricole, hence they are not allowed to recharge their phones themselves, they have to give it to them and get them back later (they can not keep their chargers with them – ‘each centre have their own rules’). Do they look search their content? More than likely since there are no codes…

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