Wednesday morning, 19 April 2007!*
*6 people managed to escape from the closed centre of Vottem on Thursday*
CRER - Coordination pour la regularisation et la libre circulation des
personnes (Coordination for the legalisation and the free movement of
The activist subsequently saw the men in both of the blocks.
The catalyst for the hunger strike was the division of the group that took place last Wednesday whereby a part of the group was put in a different block. That upset them. Their friendships had not been respected, they had not been asked and they felt that they had been treated like cattle.
They complained about many things (in particular about food and health provision), but they also clarified that it was not that, but their detention as such that motivated their strike. They will remain on hunger strike until they are free AND have received papers. It is out of the question that they are freed with nothing.
Requests were made of supporting organisations:
1) contact the press
2) contact the Belgian home office to get a minister, or at least a
representative of the home office, to come and visit them
3) organise a meeting with a representative of MRAX (note from
translator: local anti-racism group)
4) find a lawyer who is willing to represent them all
This movement was organised because of their detention, which they liken to a prison sentence without having committed a criminal offence ("we have neither stolen nor murdered"). They are integrated in the community, speak the language and have been separated from their
families. Detained, they are left in deprived circumstances with no source of income. Some are very angry, others are calmer, but all give the conclusive impression to follow this initiative through.
In block R1 all (24 persons) are participating in the initiative bar two Brazilians who have removal directions in the upcoming days ( 21st).
In block L1 all 17 detainees are refusing food bar one Brazilian who will be removed on 24th. Two new detainees arrived whilst I was visiting, both Chinese, who speak neither English nor French. Straight away they were welcomed by the group.
There are 37 persons in total on hunger strike.
We have also received the news that on Thursday 19th April, six people escaped from the detention centre in Vottem.
Again, detention centres are at the centre of attention.
The detention of people who have not done anything except for search for a better life remains unbearable. Nobody can accept to be put in prison for months, allowing the State to try and deport them back to their countries of origin or to another European detention centre (Dublin).
We must support these justified acts of desperation immediately.
We are against the existence of detention centres altogether.
We will continue to protest against the illegal imprisonment of
The question is: Who is illegal??????
And we are calling for people to congregate outside the 127bis detention centre in Steenokkerzeel to support the hunger strikers in their demands on a day that will be arranged next week.
Stop the War against migrants!
No to detention centres and deportations!
Freedom of Movement and Freedom to Stay for all people!
one of noborders