Since the mass arrestations in the Maximilien park and in the North Station, we had a lot of difficulties to get in touch with the hundred people arrested and retained in the closed centre.
According to the information we got by other retainees:
In some centres, when they arrive they are being told that they are not allowed to make phone calls or to have a lawyer, and that they are not allowed to have contacts with the outside. Many are under pressure, they distrust everything and everyone, they don’t understand why they are being retained, why they can not continue their journey or request asylum, why they are not entitled to a lawyer. Without a lawyer they are not allowed to make an appeal to their retention and they can hardly introduce an asylum request. It is for that obvious reason that they are denied a lawyer.
Others remain unyielding and refuse all support or defence.
The meetings with the Sudanese delegation also raises questions. For the least that we heard, that delegation would introduce itself as “an association that could help them”: a few fell in the trap and told their lives, others remained silent. We don’t understand very well how this delegation succeded in identifying as many ‘Sudanese’, most of them having refused to talk.
Testimonies we could gather from a few contacts we have in the closed centres.
“You may not have a lawyer yet, first they have to find an interpreter’
“They say one has to request asylum but I do not want to request asylum from the centre, it is much too complicated. Then they told me that they would ask for a let pass, but I know that it is very hard to get a let pass, I think they will not get it. That’s why I don’t request asylum, they will extend my stay every two months.’
“You are here for 5 months, we will ask a passport to the authorities and if they refuse to give you a let pass or a passport then it will be possible to leave’.
“I don’t want to eat anything here. They are crazy here, totally crazy. I don’t even know why they arrested me, for how long they will keep me here, nobody is talking to me, I am not being told anything.’
“I could never have imagined this in Europe, I am shocked.’
“Among all the people from Sudan here, none wants to request asylum, life is better in England, here it is hell, even if you have documents, the police is always after you’.
« Sudanese are not allowed to have a lawyer nor a phone.’
“People from the embassy came, they said we had to return. They are offereing 1000 euros per person to go back to Sudan.’
“They say I don’t have the choice, I have to go back to France. They say that if I request asylum here I will stay imprisoned for 4 months, they say people don’t do nothing because of that.’
19/09 : “Here they know very well that they can not be deported, the Foreigners Office sent an email, a fax or whathever and they have decided that the Sudanese would stay here for 3 months, not 2 months like the others. This is a violation of law. They asked all the Sudanese to go into a room with interpreters and they told them that a few days ago.’
« On Monday, he was told that Sudanese people wanted to meet him. Since he thought they were visitors like us, from the associative middle, he talked to them and gave them a lot of information. It is only later in the conversation that he understood he was in front of a representative of the Sudanese embassy. Then he was offered to return with 1,000 dollars; 650 directly and 250 later. He feels extremely vulnerable and is calling for help.’
At 9 am today a man of the centre asked to come with him because he has an interview he was surprised because he did not ask for asylum. Then they brought him from the Caricole to the 127bis where he met the Sudanese delegation for 20 minutes. They talked to him, not in a good way, “we know you are Sudanese” so asked to return back and they will solve his problem if he has problems wit the government or financially ! He refused to talk and they brought him back to the Caricole. I talked with him . They told me this delegation has been to Antwerp and Bruges. They said they heard 15 people deported to Sudan. He heard from people in Sudan.
They are angry.