Testimonies of police violence at Zaventem and Charleroi airports

19 Décember 2023

We regularly receive testimonies of police violence during forced deportation attempts. 
Here are some testimonies we received in recent months:

  •     “6 officers: I was stripped naked and completely searched, I was handcuffed and given a large belt. I was carried into the plane. The agents told the passengers that I was a prisoner. I shouted that I was not a prisoner, that I had never done anything wrong. Then they pushed me with my head between my knees and 2 officers grabbed me by my hair…. I kept screaming. This went on for 15 minutes. I was choking. Then they sat me upright for 1 minute and then upside down again. I thought I was dying. The flight attendants intervened and asked the officers to get me out of the plane. Back to the police station. They suggested I see a doctor. I refused. I was taken back to the van and transferred to another detention centre. “
  •     Testimony from a fellow prisoner about the deportation of a young man: “There were nine of them at the airport to deport him to his country Dublin. He refused. Nine policemen beat him up and then he was taken back to the centre. His whole face is swollen and he is in pain everywhere.”  
  • Testimony of a detainee who has been in a detention centre for 11 months and has already had 3 forced deportation attempts: “After 11 months in a detention centre, they are going to try to deport me again. It’s very tough: solitary confinement in the centre, solitary confinement at the airport, tied up. Then boarding by force, fighting to warn passengers, being taken off the plane, again in solitary confinement and being insulted. Then back to a centre, again in solitary confinement: it’s too tough. Sometimes I think about quitting. I don’t want and can’t go back to my country. My life is here.       
  • Other recently published testimonies: https://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/sidelined-by-the-centres-guards-in-order-to-deport-him-by-surprise-he-resisted-the-violence-of-the-police-and-his-deportation/ At the back of the plane, he was surrounded by six plainclothes officers who abused him and prevented 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. “When I sat down, I shouted for help in French and then in English. They pressed as hard as they could on my head and then released me just as I started to lose consciousness,” testified S. A shocked passenger witnessed the scene and stood up to question the policemen: “Are you policemen or criminals? A policeman replied, “It’s none of your business, it’s the law! “What law? Can’t you see this man is dying!” replied the passenger. The pilot intervened and the stewardess asked the police to stop and take S off the plane, expressing her anger: “The man is turning white, he is changing colour. The pilot wants him off the plane! When he got off, he could no longer walk. Once back at the airport, he was put in a cell in his boxer shorts for two hours and then transferred to another detention centre.    He was transferred to Merksplas town centre after facing a final threat from one of the attacking policemen: “you can wait for me next time”. After the deportation attempt, S contacted the Algerian consulate in Brussels, which told him that it had never given him a laisser-passer.

We strongly condemn these shameful and unspeakable acts by public officials, who are paid to exercise their racist and pathological behaviour against people in extremely vulnerable situations. Out of sight, out of mind. If this uninhibited behaviour takes place, it is because it suits the hierarchy and the authorities on whom these torturers depend and who like to turn a blind eye.We denounce this institutional racism and demand an end to these torture practices, with immediate and irreversible sanctions.

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