Testimony by a Guinean man detained in the closed centre of Vottem for 3 months.
Listen (FR) :
Ils donnent des pots de vin pour obtenir des laissez-passer
You have been at the Vottem closed centre for three months already, haven’t you?
Yes I have.
Can you explain how it is like in that centre?
Yes Madam. Well, today it is fine because there is a strike so there is not a lot of agents in here. But apart from that it is not fine at all. The food is disgusting, the agents do not respect the residents, we are being treated like animals, like if we had no rights at all, like the dregs of society. For example what happened to me here yesterday. In the morning when I woke up my back really hurt. I called an agent. He came and I politely asked him for pain killers. He asked me why my back was hurting and how I managed to have pains in my back! I asked him nicely again to give me two pain-killers but he told me that I could go to hell! In the rules, article 7 of the royal decree, it is strictly forbidden that security agents insulted the residents, but it happens very often, it was not the first time.
Concerning food, we only eat bread, it is only at lunch time that we get something slightly more substantial but apart from that it is only slices of bread.
From a medical point of view, things are more or less fine but here again it is only when you insist that you can see a doctor. If you just say you are sick they only give you dafalgan or paracetamol.
Are there a lot of deportations from the centre? Are there many people coming and being deported?
Yes, most of the people here are being deported!
All right, and are they people who have been in Belgium for long?
Yes they are! They have been here for ten sometimes twelve years. Personally I have been here for almost seven years and they want to deport me.
Did they try to deport you?
Yes they did. I was brought to the airport on January 23rd but if failed because I resisted.
So now you are expecting a second attempt?
Yes I am expecting their second deportation attempt. What hurts me even more is that they have agreements with embassies or that they bribe them to get let passes.
You are Guinean, that’s how it goes for Guinea, right?
Yes. They negotiate with the ambassador, they bribe them to get let passes and I am not the only one, all the Guinean people who come here are concerned.
What I would like in particular is that the Belgian population that is not aware of what is going on in closed centres gets to know it, that they keep an eye open and try to demonstrate against closed centres because according to the law centres might be legal, but what happens in the centres is really unlawful and illegal. They treat us like animals, not like human beings.
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