Stop Deportations: Spain’s human rights violations and the Story of Belleti

In February, some shocking figures were revealed about the number of people Spain has deported in the past years. Since 2010, and in close cooperation with the European border agency FRONTEX, Spain has deported tens of thousands of people in more than 250 international flights1. Many of the flights had destinations in Asia and Latin America, and a big part of the people was also deported to African countries, notably Mali, Senegal and Nigeria. This is outrageous, not only because the millions of euros wasted for inhuman practices but also because many deportations were conducted in so-called macro flights – planes chartered by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior which are arbitrarily filled up with people who are identified as citizens of the country in question.

Some days ago, on the 31st of March, two more of these macro deportations took place, one plane from Madrid to Bamako (Mali), the other from Madrid to Douala (Cameroon). The recent deportations have gained some public attention, thanks to the constant mobilisation of the Tanquem el CIE / NO CIE Campaigns which fight for shutting down the Spanish deportation centers. One particular story has been successful in denouncing the human rights violations of the Spanish and European border regime: Renaud Nyame, a Cameroonian citizen, had been blocked in Melilla for nine months, before being transferred to the Immigrant Detention Centre in Barcelona for deportation. The Cameroonian, known as Belletti to his friends, leaked two videos after his arrest that were made public and show how the Civil Guard police had offered him a deal to legalise his immigration status in exchange for information2. The videos show how a Civil Guard policeman offered Renaud “the keys of Europe” in exchange for acting as his “snitch”. He did so during an interrogation, using forms and expressions bordering on blackmail. The policeman told him that if he did not collaborate, his safe-conduct to the Peninsular Spain would be blocked, as it then was the case for 9 months.

The ability to offer a residence permit or ensure a person will not be deported in exchange for “providing information as a victim, affected person or witness to an act of illicit trafficking or illegal immigration” derives from Article 59 of the LOEX (Organic Law on Migration). However, Renaud had already informed the Civil Guard on several occasions that he did not have the type of information the questioners wanted and Article 59 was not being used to offer him a possible reward for collaboration but rather as blackmail. Apart from its questionable legality, when the police operate in this way it protects racist institutional dynamics and also infringes migrants’ rights. Persecution and repression in the border area, pushing and shoving, beatings alongside the fence, humiliations in detention centres and blackmail are just parts of this framework that has haunted Renaud and many of his brothers and sisters. His story is not an exception but rather the norm. Mistreatment of migrants is systematic and protected by the Organic Law on Migration (LOEX). Belleti’s testimony highlights the day-to-day racist practices of the Spanish and Moroccan governments, and the European immigration policy. It gives an insight into the hypocrisy of Spanish law, and, ultimately, the legalised brutality at the border, where the importance of human life depends on which side of the border you were born.

Thanks to the massive pressure by the Todos con Belleti campaign, and the courageous actions of Belleti, his friends and lawyers in denouncing the Guardia Civil and the Spanish State, Belleti was liberated from the CIE in late March. Some other Malians and Cameroonians who had been sent to the Barcelona CIE from the CETI in Melilla were liberated as well, however, at least four people, along with many other migrants, were deported to Cameroon and Mali some days ago.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Spain is going to stop any of these inhuman practices (macro deportations in specially chartered planes or solitary deportations in scheduled flights) any time soon. As if it wasn’t enough that Spain is already deporting far more people than any other European country (even than countries like Italy or Greece, where lots more people arrive), Spain has budgeted for another 12 million euros in the next two years for these purposes.

If Belleti’s story can serve as an inspiration, we need to support any person suffering from and fighting against the racist border regime, at the Southern Border and anywhere. We need to resist any attempts at deporting our friends, brothers, sisters, and fellow activists! We need to denounce the shameful policies of the European Union, which use human rights and freedoms as a mere camouflage for their selfish and inhuman practices.

STOP DEPORTATIONS – IN SPAIN AND EVERYWHERE

FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

NO BORDERS

Footnotes:

1For some detailed numbers and figures, see the following articles: http://www.europapress.es/epsocial/politica-social/noticia-espana-expulso-mas-9400-inmigrantes-253-vuelos-internacionales-deportacion-fletados-2010-2014-20150212133025.html and http://cadenaser.com/ser/2015/04/03/sociedad/1428012211_939510.html (access: April 2015)

2The video can be found here: https://vimeo.com/120388907 (uploaded in February 2015)

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