25 June – Phone testimony by a detainee during an action in front of the detention centre of Bruges.
Listen to the interview (FR) :[audio:http://gettingthevoiceout.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/ils-nous-donnent-des-choses-c3a0-manger-pour-quon-soit-calme.mp3|titles=ils-nous-donnent-des-choses-c3a0-manger-pour-quon-soit-calme]
– Can you tell me for how long you have been in the centre?
It has been one month in Merksplas and one month in Bruges, two months all together.
– How did they arrest you?
They arrested me on the street.
– On the street, like that?
Yes, in Antwerp.
– And why did they transfer you from Merksplas to Bruges?
Because I had been there for a long time. In Merksplas, we stopped feeding ourselves for a week and after they said that me and the others (32 persons) would be transferred.
– And you told me they want to deport you tomorrow, right?
Yes, at 6 a.m. The flight is at 10 a.m.
– Is it the first time they try to deport you?
Yes, it is the first time, but it is my second time in a detention centre. In Merksplas and now in Bruges.
– Do you know that it is your right to refuse tomorrow?
Yes I know and I will refuse.
– Can you tell me what you were doing in Belgium and if you have family here?
Yes, I have two children.
– In Belgium?
Yes. I was well integrated. I used to play football! Then, one day I went to the commune and they told me that my asylum was over. It was in 2004… no, in 2007. I have been illegal since then.
– And are your children illegal too?
No, they are Belgian, their mother is Belgian.
– And are you not married?
No we aren’t.
– Do you have a lawyer?
Yes I do.
– And is there anything he can do for you?
For the moment, there is no solution to free me.
– Can you tell us how it is inside the detention centre?
It is really strange to live here. We sleep with people who have illnesses such as tuberculosis, BDD (body dysmorphic disorders). You don’t sleep properly. We are at least 30 per room. We have the right to go outside only two hours per day. We don’t take a shower every day, only once a week.
– Are there women with you?
Yes there are, but in another wing.
– And how is your moral for two months?
Not good because I think of my family who is outside, at home. I will lose everything. I have spoken to the landlord and he said he can not wait anymore. Two months is too long. He will put all my stuff outside.
– Did your wife and children come to visit you?
They came once in Merksplas.
– How old are your children?
They are 7 and 4.
– Is there something else you wish to say about the situation inside?
Here people are not treated correctly. And they give us things to eat so that we calm down, it is like drugs.
– They give you things to calm down?
Yes, they put that in the food, and as soon as you eat you get quieter and you sleep all the time. You are knocked out. Your body becomes weak. I think they put that in the soup or the bread. As soon as you take it you calm down.
– Were people deported?
Yes, I think they were 7 or 5, Pakistanis, Serbians, and other people from Ghana.
– What happened when you made your hunger strike?
We stayed for a week and then they brought normal policemen, the federal police. They entered with dogs and teargas. They handcuffed us and put us in cells, like small prisons. We stayed there one week more and then they transferred everybody.
– Was it violent?
Yes, it was violent. They handcuffed me. I have scars in my hand. I got beaten in my mouth, I was wounded. I had blood in my eye. But they don’t care. They say it is nothing. You are an illegal, you are an illegal!
– Thus, you are going to resist tomorrow agains the deportation?
Yes, normally tomorrow I will not leave. I already told the Director that tomorrow I can not leave because I don’t have any laissez-passer since my embassy refused to hand it out.
– So, normally you will be able to refuse. May we ring you tomorrow or after tomorrow to ask you how it went and what will happen afterwards?
Yes of course, no problem.
– Do you have family you would like us to contact?
Yes but not for the moment. It would be better if you came here to pay me a visit because I don’t know too well with whom I speak here.
– Ok, we will see if we can find someone who can come and visit you. We will first wait for the result of tomorrow and I call you back, all right?
– So you have a lawyer to help you?
Yes I had, but I think he gave up, he doesn’t ring me anymore.
– Anyway, I will ring you tomorrow.
– Good luck for tomorrow.
Thank you madam.
– See you soon, good bye.
We rang back the day after and the day after too. He never answered. His lawyer doesn’t want to say anything: ‘professional confidentiality’… However, this man had the right to refuse his deportation…