In its mad race for profits, capitalism throws more and more people into precariousness and makes our environment increasingly unlivable. Faced with scolding anger and misery sown into anything that goes, the state invests in maintaining order and builds new prisons.
At a time when the people are constrained to tighten their belts, the government finds billions to strain us even more by building high-tech prisons, where it experiments with new forms of torture (sensory and human contact deprivation)
For the ruling class, the advantage is twofold: the construction contracts provides its juicy profits and security apparatus, thereby ultra-developed, allows it to maintain its privileges and to perpetuate this oppressive and destructive system.
The federal government’s Masterplan foresees the construction of seven new prisons in Belgium. One of them, the maxi-prison, crystallizes opposition in recent years. The government plans to build this mammoth prison on the Keelbeek site, in Haren, located on the northern outskirts of Brussels.
A few statistics of the maxi-prison project:
# A capacity for 1200 detainees (men, women, minors and psychiatrised people)
# 19 hectares of nature and farmland concreted
# A 25 year private-public partnership which will cost the state more than €3 billion. That’s a minimum daily cost of €275 per detainee. More than €275 a day devoted to breaking a human being!
# A location far from the heart of Brussels, difficulty accessible for the detainees’ families
Since the announcement of the maxi-prison construction, the reactions are numerous. In Haren, the neighbourhood committee informs inhabitants and mobilises itself against the project. On the streets of Brussels, the maxi-prison revives anti-prison rage and well inspired groups strive to end the project through a series of direct actions. In Anderlecht, [Le Passage], a local space of struggle against the maxi-prison is open to inform, discuss and organise itself.
During the summer of 2014, the Keelbeek site was occupied to prevent the project’s progress. The Haren ZAD (Zone to Defend) was born. Among the tree houses and vegetable garden, the opponents experimented with another lifestyle, self-managed and solidarity based. The site occupation ended in September 2015, following the forceful eviction of occupants, conducted by Brussels police. But even today, a rebellious handful occupy a site adjacent to Keelbeek and several of Haren’s abandoned houses.
This growing popular unrest upset the government’s plans who let its pack of guard dogs loose in an attempt to stifle dissent. Numbers of struggling comrades experienced raids, tailing, wiretapping, intimidation and infiltration attempts. But faced with the determination and solidarity, the repression proves to be powerless.
On May 20th 2015, the consultation committee’s public hearing was held regarding the maxi-prison project in Haren. The committee’s opinion wasn’t even binding, the referendum farce didn’t deceive many people. The same day, around a dozen people therefore decided to express their opposition to the project, outside of Power’s marked paths, and manifest within the Building Agency. The maxi-prison model, exhibited in the entrance hall, is destroyed during the action.
This institution, the Buildings Agency, corrupted up to its neck, is responsible for managing the Belgian State’s property assets and coordinating the construction of new prisons. Without waiting for permits, the Buildings Authority tried to repeatedly start work on the Keelbeek site. But each time, construction machinery was fended off by opponents.
While its project is threatened from all sides, Power seizes this opportunity, in an attempt to weaken the resistance, and now four of us find ourselves on the judicial bench for “organised destruction of personal property”. This is the first trial of an action against the maxi-prison. Following a postponement, the first hearing is set for January 22nd 2016 in the Brussles Law Courts. For this type of act, the anticipated penalties range from 1 to 5 years imprisonment, while the Buildings Agency are claiming €40,000 in damages and interests.
Far from paralysing us, this trial is an opportunity to reaffirm our anti-authoritarian stance against all forms of power, whether political, media or judicial. They’re part of the problem, not the solution. And with your complicity, this trial will be another opportunity to throw some paving stones on the prison morass and to make slip a few cogs in the machine.
Let’s continue the struggle against prisons and the world they protect!
And to manage the legal costs, we also call for your financial solidarity.
If you collect a few coins by scraping the bottom of your pockets, or passing a collection pot at your activist meet ups, then thanks for bunging them this way: BE66 5230 4745 8943 (bank account number in the name of “soutien procès maquette” [model trial support])
Brick by brick
Wall by wall
Let’s destroy all prisons!
January 18th 2016