After numerous infections of the COVID-19 virus among the staff (36!) as well as the people detained in the closed centre of Bruges, we received several phone calls from detainees who were worried about the situation. They have now been transferred to the 127bis and Merksplas centres, where they are being held in total isolation, everyone alone in a cell. The precarious health situation and the (mis)management of the pandemic in the closed centres only reinforce the already existing institutional violence, leaving those who do not have the right papers to their own misfortune. They are deprived of their freedom and of their right to protection and fundamental rights.
Testimony “We have no rights, we are only a number”
In this passage, X tells us of the centre’s direction’s indifference in the way they deal with the sanitary situation in the centre. Although he has been living in Belgium for a long time and that his sister and her partner would take care of him, the system does not let go and keeps him locked up at all costs, risking a contagion of the virus. AUDIO HERE
Testimony “I know only Belgium”
Among them X, who has been living in Belgium for 27 years and has only childhood memories of Cameroon. In this passage of his testimony, he tells us about his double sentence: after having spent some time in prison, he does not know when he will be released from the detention centre. He invites us to deconstruct our prejudices and to think about alternatives to the repressive and criminalising ‘logic’ of the system. AUDIO HERE
Testimony “We are all human, with or without paper”
In this passage, X illustrates the violence of the system: deleted from the national register and forced to find ways to survive, he ends up in prison and then in a detention centre. It bears witness to the vicious circle of administrative exclusion. Audio HERE