Up to you to choose between life and death!Octobre 2013

At the closed centre of Bruges, in the morning of October 6th, everything was terrible. No usual breakfast, on purpose, so that they find me in the weakest possible state. As if I was going to pass on the electric chair, and I was not totally wrong. I arrived to Zaventem airport with fear in the stomach. Eleven federal police officers were waiting for me. Not a minute to loose, everything was timed. I will never forget what I heard on that Sunday 6th of October, whatever I do, those faces will never fade from my memory.

You will not go back to the centre today’ one of the police officers says to me, and he adds ‘It is the end for you’. It is now up to you to choose between life and death, staying quiet on the plane. Anyway, we got orders. It will be a really cruel day for you, you’ll not forget it soon. We booked seats for you on all airlines, and the three escort agents who will accompany you to Togo. You’ll go out of a plane and go to another one. Even if you have to spend two days here in Zaventem airport, we’ll do it, but the decision has been made, you are going back to Togo today, dead or alive, and it is not negotiable. Calmly, I asked if I could ring my lawyer. At last, one of the police officers came back with a let-pass, I thought I would have seen the flag of my country on it, or at least the name and signature of the Togolese ambassador in Belgium but I only saw the logo of the European Union. In my head I was thinking, as far as I know they are deporting me to Africa, or may be they are bringing me for a tour of Europe…

While putting my clothes back on, two female police officers put me in Pampers diapers, because I supposedly pissed myself on the plane during their last deportation attempt on me.  I asked them why I would have pissed myself on the plane, what for?

The deportation:

What S. told the head of the escort officers at Lomé airport: “You tied me up with your so-called ‘French belt’ and I could not walk alone, you had to hold me and you were two to hold me. Once in the plane, it was not enough for you to tie me up, you interlaced your feet against mine to immobilise me, and your hands around mines although they were already tied to the armchairs. The most horrible was my neck (although this part of the body is sensitive), but it was you Sir, it was you who strongly held my head down so that my words, my shouts, my story and your abduction did not reach the passengers who were curious of what was going on and who would also see how you had tied me up. Your goal was to maintain my head down so that the passengers would not see the animosity and bestiality with which you were treating me. It was atrocious! You were eleven to go on the plane with me and an air hostess had to tell you that passengers would start embarking and from  taking pictures and filming the scene. Also the airport officer was there, and he was telling the passengers that what I was saying was not true, that I was doing all this to attract their attention. Even one hostess reacted slowly, going closer to him and whispering (and it really surprised me) ‘she said a complaint was ongoing and that you kidnapped her so that there would be no follow-up to this complaint, if what she says is true, you don’t have the right to do that.’ And you all answered that it was not true, that I was saying bullshit because I didn’t want to go back to my country.

You went far this time, the passengers who were defending me and who thought your practices were lousy, who asked you to make me go out of the plane, it is them you made go out of the plane!!! An hostess came back to you and said ‘it is fine now, the passengers who were making some noise have been asked to leave the place, the others should normally not be problematic. Soon we will cose the doors.” I could have died!!

On October 6th, I again saw and realised how the Anti-Foreigners Office may take it out on somebody, how ready it is to be illegal on all the grounds, to cheat and ignore all rule and law; the utlimate goal being to have me back in my country, dead or alive. They give themselves no limit and it really is a pity. The Foreigners Office say we are illegal, but everything they’ve done to me on that Sunday 6th of October is much more illegal.

In Lomé

We landed in Lomé (Togo) at 3.27 a.m. local time, an escort of three agents (2 men and 1 woman) brought me back. Once in the hall of Lomé International Airport, at the registration desk, a Togolese police officer who saw that I was suffering stood up from his post, came to see me and asked me what had happened. I stayed silent. I was extremely scared that they directly sent me to prison since my passport had expired. He insisted by saying ‘before I let your escort go, I need to know where your pains come from, you may hardly move your neck…’. Feebly, I showed him the scars of the assault and battery on my two forearms. Shocked and overtaken, he turned to the three escort agents and told them: ‘I understand you may deport people from your country but to draw from this the conclusion that you may ruin them this way, I am absolutely distressed by your methods. Our country is not a waste bin where you may assault and traumatize our fellow citizens and come to flood them here’ he continued harshly. ‘I’ll have to confiscate your passports’ he said’ ‘You bring the lady to a hospital so that they take care of her or you go back to Belgium with her’ he added.

I was really dazzled, at last someone who dared to talk, someone who was telling them the truth in their face, who says that they do not have the right to assault anyone. ‘Bring her to the hospital’ he said. One of the escort agents opens his briefcase and takes out a medical card he gives to the Togolese police officer saying ‘a doctor examined her and she is in good shape.’ Without having a look at that medical card, the police officer asks ‘when was she examined?’ The head of the mission answers (lying, I thought deep inside) ‘just before entering the plane’.

Later, when I read the medical card in question, I saw it dated back to October 4th, while I landed in Lomé on October 7th and no doctor had examined me neither at the centre the same morning, nor before entering the place as asserted by the escort.

The escort feeling that the police officer had really decided they should bring me to the hospital , searched their pockets saying to the officer that they would give him some money. 0ffended, the Togolese officer answered ‘I don’t need your money. What I have been asking from you for 40 minutes already is nothing else than care for this woman you may have assaulted, if not you would not have tried to corrupt me. What you do is terrible, don’t you know?. I understand you may deport her but in such conditions it is unconceivable, inadmissible and insane! I am working here in Togo at the migration service and I know what you are capable of. ‘

The head of the escort mission speaks less loudly and asks ‘Would you like to see with what we tied her up? It is a French belt.’ I was nervous and could not contain myself anymore: ‘It is true! The violence was so harsh that your shoe exploded and you had to change shoes before coming to Casablanca. The three of you were laughing of it, you certainly did not cry! You even were ready to kill me and for what reason: the loss or absence of a residence permit?’

The police officer was completely disconcerted and took the floor: ‘she entered Belgium legally didn’t she? I saw the visa in the passport and you bring her back to us in that state? Coming from Belgium, that is a state of the rule of the law, it is completely shameful. Brussels that gives us post electoral and human rights lessons, Brussels that gets indignated with post elections violence in Togo, and from the same Brussels a fellow citizen is coming back totally banged up, assulted and traumatised? I can not believe it, says the police officer, it is incredible! With all the respect I owe you, and in a harsh tone he tells them again to get her cured else they will have to return to Belgium with her. He then went towards his post and make her sit down. The head of mission came back and said: ‘I’ll be obliged to contact our embassy that will take care of all this.’

The honorary consul of Belgium in Togo arrived to Lomé International Airport around 6 a.m. local time. She introduced herself and guaranteed that she would take me to the hospital.

At 6.20 a.m precisely, we were at the doctor’s at the International Lomé Airport with the consul and the police officer. The doctor welcomed and examined me to send me to a gynaecologist and a traumatologist for more appropriate care. A gynaecologist because, during the search, a female police oficer had introduced her finger in my vagina; wearing a latex glove. I wonder what she was looking for in such a place…

It is an inhuman and degrading treatment that goes beyond my belief.

A few minutes later, we were taken to the Togolese national police station with the consul. There, I was heard. I lodged another complaint against the three federal escort police officers whose names I know now, for repeated offence.

The three escort agents were called the morning after by the national Togolese police for their deposition.

A thousand questions stream into my mind. Is it worth spending so much money to deport only one individual whereas if the same individual was in the country it would not cost that much? I lived almost 6 months in the closed centre of Bruges where I cost an impressive amount of money per day to the Belgian State. What is all this waste for? Is the aim of a deportation to enforce the law to the extent of losing the values that govern a whole state such as Belgium? I have a friend in the closed centre of Bruges who keeps saying:’If a man is judged illegal on earth, where is his place then?’

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