There are things here they don’t want people on the outside to see

28 January 2011 – Telephone interview with a detainee during an action in front of the Merksplas detention centre

Listen to the interview (FR) :


Hello? Yes, hello!

I am in front of your flag. (Where the phone number is written)

What do you want to know about us?

The problem is that we are ‘illegals’. We are not criminals. The problem is that before you come here, they take away your mobile phone if it has a camera or anything like that. There are things here they don’t want people on the outside to see. The food is a disaster. There are four blocks and in each block there are over 50 people. We don’t have the right to go to bed when we like. We have to go to bed at 9.30pm. You know, we have to go to bed at 9.30pm. In the afternoon you can’t eat between 2pm and 3pm, you are only allowed to eat at 1pm

And at dinnertime too, you can only eat at 6.30pm, if you are hungry during the night it is your problem.

Basically it is shit here, if that is what you want to know.

Break time is between 2.30pm and 3.30pm, after lunch.

No, in the morning we stay inside. The problem is that inside there are people who have done nothing wrong, there are people who have been trying to get their papers for 6, 10 or 11 years and they only get negative answers. So it seems to me that at the moment Belgium doesn’t want anymore immigrants. Yet these people left their country 6, 8 or 10 years ago… It doesn’t make sense, it is stupid.

(Voice in the background) We are in prison here.

Each week dozens of people leave and dozens more take their place. The problem is that as there are people who earn their living from the centre, they don’t ever want the centre to be empty. The problem is that everyone has their own story; I am among those who have requested regularisation. And the decision was negative, but I don’t understand why as if someone has stayed in a country for 8 or 10 years they have the right to their papers!

Wait, here is one of my brothers who wants to talk to you.

(Other person)

In front of me there is a man who is married and who has three children. They have already sent him twice to the airport and hit him around. With another guy they gave him an injection. There is another person who has been married for ten years here, they were aggressive with him and hit him throughout the journey.

Another time he came back green-eyed. They handcuffed him and taped him up. He struggled a bit because he didn’t want to leave with them.

So they hit him, pushed him to the ground, they crushed his head with their feet. And they really made fun of him. And another person beside me in the cell was crying and crying so 10 bosses from the centre came in and gave them a shot. So he left like a robot you see, now he can’t walk, he can’t do anything.

There is a man called Obama and he has two daughters here. A nine year old and a six year old. He has been married for over six years and they want to send him to Africa.

Now he is at the airport. He has two children here and he is at the airport!!!! How can that be possible!! It’s not a good thing at all.

(Back to first man)

What we are explaining is very important. The police really really beat him up. When he got back to his room he could no longer walk.

But my sister we can’t tell you what is happening here. If you have a phone with a camera you are not allowed to bring it in with you because there are things here they don’t want people on the outside to see.

That’s the problem.

What else do you want to know?

Right it’s dinnertime, I’m off to eat.

But I’ll call you back.

OK thank you. It is great to talk to you. Thank you.

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