20 Feb 2011: Activists held a solidarity action outside the Steenockerzeel 123bis detention centre in Brussels this afternoon. Inside, prisoners took
matters into their own hands and started a revolt which led to one
escape and a wing destroyed by fire. Currently the area is shut down
The group "Voices Without Borders" organised a solidarity action this
afternoon at the 127 bis detention centre in Steenockerzeel, Brussels
this afternoon starting at 16.30. The action was a show of solidarity
with prisoners in the immigration prison who have been on hunger
strike for more than ten days after an 18 year old Egyption migrant
was tied up and beaten by guards.
The demonstrators arrived at the centre with music, shouts and
banners, including one showing a telephone number which prisoners
could call to relay testimonies and messages. The lively demo was met
with lots of interaction from the people inside shouting and banging
on windows, clearly in a resistant mood. People inside and out shouted
messages of solidarity and defiance to each other whilst a line of
riot cops looked on. Whilst demonstrators banged on the outer line of
five meter steel fences prisoners inside began to throw objects out of
After some time a fire broke out in one cell and people were led out
of the wing into the courtyard near the fences close to the
demonstration while the fire began to rage. Guards began pushing
prisoners on the fire escape.
One prisoner managed to climb the fences out of the centre to freedom,
where he then disappeared into mid air. Others occupied the rooftop.
As more police arrived to "pacify" the revolt, activists showed
solidarity, staying close to the centre in support.
The roads were blocked with police surrounding the centre and
cordoning off traffic in the nearby village of Steenockerzeel. The
train station has also been closed down. As of late evening, TV crews
from the Belgian networks were still in the area. Recent reports say
that one wing has been destroyed, with prisoners moved to other
Solidarité avec les revoltés. In solidarity with the fighting spirit
of the immigration prisoners of Steenockerzeel, locked up for no crime
in the "Capital of Europe". No borders, No nations.