6th March 2011: Story of the sister of two Armenian men, one of whom has just been deported from Belgium.
Listen to the interview (NL) :[audio:http://gettingthevoiceout.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/ils-ne-voulaient-pas-croire-quils-c3a9taient-ses-fils-fr_01.mp3|titles=ils-ne-voulaient-pas-croire-quils-c3a9taient-ses-fils-fr_01]
You have two brothers who came from Armenia. One of them was deported; the second one has gone on a hunger strike. Can you tell us how long they have lived in Belgium for and what they were doing here?
My eldest brother has lived in Belgium for 10 years, almost 11. We all came together: my father, my eldest brother and I. My youngest brother came later; he has been living in Belgium for the last 7 years. Both of them have submitted a request for regularisation at the ‘conseil d’état’. Everything was in order. All they had to do was wait for the answer to arrive. It never came. They resubmitted a request for regularisation and they waited for a very long time. Finally, one morning the police came to them. They said: “You have received your papers. You need to follow us to the police station in order to sign them and this way everything will be in order faster.” My brothers were very happy and they followed them. That’s when they were arrested.
The police called the ministry in Brussels, and once more they lied. They said that both my brothers had willingly gone to the police, saying that they had waited long enough for a response and that they now wanted to go back to their country. All of which is completely false! The police lied. The police asked the ministry to close both files since they supposedly wanted to return to their country voluntarily:
That’s how it happened. They were locked up in a detention centre even though they had done nothing wrong!
They are being held there as if they are criminals!
Were they placed at the 127bis in Steenokkerzeel?
At first they were at the 127bis. Until the fire when everything was destroyed. Then, my eldest brother was taken to Vottem and the youngest to Antwerp. The eldest has been living in Belgium for the last 10 years and will become a father in 15 days. They said they didn’t believe that it was his child. But we have proof from the doctor that he went with his partner every month to her medical examinations. Isn’t that proof enough that it is his child? But they did not take this into account.
Did you know that their request for regularisation was refused?
They were taken first to the 127bis in Brussels. Then, two days later, they received the negative answer from the ‘commissariat de Bruxelles’, via the police. The police had told them: “You should refuse them, they want to go back to their country”.
I was calling them all the time in Brussels. Every time, they told me that their files were in progress but that no decision had yet been taken. If all this hadn’t happened, they might have had their papers this month.
Is it the third time they have tried to deport him?
He has gone before the court three times. Each time, everything was wrong. They didn’t believe that he was my father’s son, it wasn’t written on the papers. Both my brothers then submitted a request for regularisation. Both had a contract proving that they wanted to work but these papers were probably never even sent to the ministry.
Did you see your younger brother at the Merksplas detention centre today?
Yes, I went to see him today. He is doing very badly. He can hardly walk anymore. He said to me: “The worst part is that I’ve done nothing wrong!” He has been here for so long. He hasn’t taken advantage of Belgium, he has cost nothing. He has always stayed calm and that is how he was taken by the police, calm!
Psychologically, he is doing badly. He hasn’t eaten for the last 20 days.
Is he on hunger strike?
Yes, he is on hunger strike. Today, it’s been 20 days since he last ate. He hurts all over. The ministry doesn’t take this into account, I don’t know what they think, that he is a murderer?
Is he in an isolation cell?
He is in isolation in the medical unit. They are keeping him there because he is not well.
Why is he on a hunger strike?
To get out of there. He told me: “I haven’t done anything wrong. The police are wrong, I’m here for nothing!”
What is the lawyer going to do?
He went to court three times but it hasn’t helped…
My brother is now very thin. He can’t start eating normally again straight away. He needs to take medicine for his stomach.
Is he well treated in Merksplas?
He is looked after by a doctor who sees him every day.
Did the doctor draft a certificate to attest that he is on a hunger strike?
I don’t know. I spoke to the assistant who said that the ministry knew. But we don’t have any proof of it. We don’t know.
He has to be given a chance. He has been here for so long. He can’t go back to our country because there are problems there. He should just be given the chance to have a decent life!
And in Armenia?
It’s impossible. There are problems in Armenia.
And my father is already 77 years old and has undergone a serious operation. He has no one apart from me. We just want my two brothers to stay with us.
Is your father living in Belgium legally?
He received his papers four years ago. But not my brothers. They say they don’t believe they are his sons.
Since they have been in Belgium have they worked legally?
They didn’t have the right to work. They were looking for a job. They had found a contract. But the authorities didn’t take this into account.
I don’t find this honest. They should have a more human attitude.
That evening, the sister calls us: her eldest brother has been arrested in Armenia. She is very worried.