Last Wednesday, the Collectif de résistance aux centres pour étrangers (CRACPE) – a community organisation opposed to detention centres for foreigners – announced that detainees held at Vottem detention centre (province of Liège) had begun a hunger strike to secure their release, on Friday.However, according to the UK Border Agency, fewer prisoners have been joining the movement of late. According to CRACPE, this hunger strike is led by 8 men demanding their release. They have been held for several months now, and would no longer be able to withstand being detained for an extended period of time while they await deportation. In a statement, the group complained that “Every time the Council Chamber orders their release, the UK Border Agency appeals against the decision”.
According to the UK Border Agency, the situation has calmed down since last Friday: only one person was still refusing to eat on Wednesday. Spokesperson Dominique Ernould said: “There have been signs of discontent, especially in one wing, where people refused to eat at every meal. But we can’t really call that a hunger strike”.
According to CRACPE, deporting detainees held at Vottem to their home countries “could put their lives at risk”, since those places “are torn apart by war and conflict, are ravaged by persecution and poverty and are often devastated by the effects of global warming, not to mention the absence of democracy”. The group regrets that the new government is planning to increase the number of deportations in the future and demands that all be given the right to claim asylum.