On Thursday 28th April around 20 activists blocked the entrance to the 127 bis detention centre in Steenokkerzeel, near the main airport of Brussels. They were attempting to stop the deportation of 60 Congolese refugees on a charter flight to Kinshasa organised by the joint European border agency Frontex and “secured” by Belgian federal police.
The action began at 4.30 am when activists blocked the gates using lock-ons. The Congolese prisoners were due to be taken from the detention centre to a plane waiting at the Melsbroek military airport. More prisoners were being brought from four other countries, including the UK as well as Ireland, Holland and Sweden, to join the flight.
At around 9am the Belgian police cutting team managed to clear the blockade and the activists were arrested. Police closed off the area around the detention centre to prevent access to journalists who had arrived to cover the action. By midday the Congolese prisoners had been taken out of the detention centre by bus under a heavy police escort.
See videos of the protest (in French) here and here.
On Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th April, dozens of Tunisian migrants who were camped in the parc de la Villette (19th arrondissement of Paris) were arrested by police and placed into custody. Meanwhile 15 Tunisians camped in a park near to la gare Saint-Charles in Marsailles were arrested on Wednesday evening. The prosecutors say that the migrants are in breach of the terms of their temporary Schengen visas as they do not have the means to support themselves.
Around 9pm on Monday 11th April police tried to arrest two passengers who had arrived on a flight from Algeria to Zaventum airport, Brussels. According to the “Het Nieuwsblad” and “De Standaard” newspapers, the two ran from the police, stole a vehicle parked in a hanger, drove across part of the runway and through a fence and two gates onto the E19 motorway. The two have not been apprehended at the time of writing.
Saturday 7th May sees the second SteenRock music festival calling for an end to detention in front of the closed detention centre 127 bis of Steenokkerzeel, near Brussels. The inaugural “SteenRock” in April 2010 attracted more than 300 people.
On Sunday 17th April activists from France and Italy attempted to board the “Train of Dignity” in Ventimille (north-west Italy) to cross the border into France in a protest against French imposition of border controls in the south west of the country. The French authorities responded by ordering a temporary closure of the border, thus preventing the train from departing, See the Al Jazeera article here.
Today Monday 11th April at a meeting of EU immigration ministers in Luxembourg Melchior Wathelet, the Belgium Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, threatened that his country would reintroduce border controls in protest at Italy’s decision to grant temporary Schengen visas to 22,000 Tunisians last week.
Today several videos have been released by No Border activists in Calais which document the everyday harassment that the migrants and they as activists experience daily. Click here to watch the videos and read a text (in French) entitled “Police harassment in Calais: the videos that shame”.
9 months ago as the end of a series of strikes the CGT union negotiated with the French government to look at the cases of 3900 sans papier. So far, only 200 have been given papers, and 1200 of them have not even been given a receipt acknowledging that their case is being looked at. Francine Blanche of the CGT has said the failure of the prefectures to complete the cases by the deadline of 31st March this year shows a lack of “political will”.
Earlier today Sunday 3rd April several hundred people marched from central Liege to Vottem detention centre demanding the closure of all centres. When they arrived at the centre, 49 demonstators climbed over the fences and broke into the courtyard. A helicopter came and hovered 15m over them whilst a planned concert continued outside. After an hour, police came and arrested the 49, whilst being subjected to a shower of projectiles thrown by the detainees.