I’d been off Face­book for a while. I’d had enough of it; most of all, I did­n’t find any social use­ful­ness to this media.
And yet its a damned use­ful infor­ma­tion relay, as long as cen­sor­ship doesn’t cut us off.

I’ve come back to it in the past few days and, every time, I leave it moved because in Bel­gium, a move­ment has found its place there.

In Brus­sels in the midst of a full-blown migra­to­ry cri­sis and, more specif­i­cal­ly in the neigh­bor­hood of the Aliens’ Office (Office des étrangers) where asy­lum seek­ers, migrants and refugees take shel­ter, at the Gare du nord and in the neigh­bor­ing park, the famous parc Max­im­i­lien, a cit­i­zens’ net­work has tak­en shape.

A resis­tance move­ment. Resis­tance against a Bel­gian pol­i­cy in which many no longer rec­og­nize them­selves, a pol­i­cy of which sev­er­al of us are ashamed.

For the past few years, refugees, most of them from Sudan, Ery­threa and Syr­ia, set up makeshift encamp­ments at the Gare du nord and in parc Max­im­i­lien. A stopover on their objec­tive: England.

I don’t need to describe their dai­ly life and their liv­ing con­di­tions. And when fall comes along with its tor­ren­tial rain, it turns into hell on earth.

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Théo Franck­en (N.VA), Sec­re­tary of State respon­si­ble for Asy­lum and Immi­gra­tion, does not see it this way.

He demands a « clean-up » (cf. his Twit­ter account) using meth­ods applied under fas­cist regimes. Any­thing goes. No, this is not a movie. This is “Brux­elles ma belle“.

The police sees to orga­niz­ing the roundups and the track­ing, con­fis­cat­ing and destroy­ing of what is left of their word­ly goods includ­ing their sleep­ing bags which are cut up with scis­sors, along with those tiny lit­tle things that are all that’s left of what a per­son holds dear.

Recent­ly, this same Théo Franck­en called on the Sudanese gov­ern­ment to send over civ­il ser­vants charged with iden­ti­fy­ing their nation­als. Lest we for­get : the Sudanese head of State is charged with geno­cide and crimes against human­i­ty before the Inter­na­tion­al Crim­i­nal Court.

In the mean­time, the police does a thor­ough job of « cleanup ». But there are also vol­un­teers ready to do the dirty work. Humil­i­a­tion and harass­ment are the stand­ing direc­tives con­cern­ing refugees (minors includ­ed), asso­ci­a­tions, vol­un­teers and any­one who refus­es to look the oth­er way.

The pol­i­cy of the worst-case sce­nario is applied in order to dis­cour­age these per­sons of seek­ing exile and of leav­ing their coun­try where, we mustn’t for­get, their lives are in dan­ger. The pol­i­cy of dis­per­sion and invis­i­bil­i­ty. Putting away these refugees means hid­ing them from view, clean­ing up as if they didn’t exist. Euro­pean hypocrisy.

Same as in France, with the migrant encamp­ments at Porte de la Chapelle. Same struggle.

Repres­sion as only response to the word-wide drama.

Now, like many oth­ers, I am part of the Face­book group Plate­forme citoyenne de sou­tien aux per­son­nes réfugiées Brux­elles and fol­low their web­site www.bxlrefugees.be.

This group func­tions as a space for infor­ma­tion and coor­di­na­tion of cit­i­zen actions and ini­tia­tives of sol­i­dar­i­ty with asy­lum seek­ers and refugees in Brus­sels and Bel­gium overall.

35 723 peo­ple present­ly fol­low this group.

Héberge­ment plate­forme citoyenne” (Cit­i­zen Shel­ter Plat­form) is one of the pos­si­ble actions sug­gest­ed. In this space, any­one wish­ing to shel­ter one or sev­er­al peo­ple in need for one night or sev­er­al, will find the nec­es­sary information.

Last night, 122 per­sons found a bed, a show­er, a bit of warmth, a meal, thanks to the open minds of sev­er­al Bel­gian cit­i­zens who decid­ed to act.

Text Sophia Yous­ri
Pho­tos Tory Kılıç

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges

En français : “Brux­elles RéfugiéEs • Chez moi c’est chez toi” Cliquez pour lire

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