Prisons of shame: Belgium




Belgian Democratic Terror Against Chechen Human Rights Activist as a Response to his Engagement for the Rights of Chechen Political Prisoners

On April 7, 2011 in the afternoon in the Belgian capital Brussels “unknown perpetrators” broke the window of the car of human rights defender Imran Ezhiev. The car was parked near the U.S. Embassy. ​​The criminals committed burglary. “Unidentified persons” stole a briefcase with important papers, including passports of the members of  Imran Ezhiev’s family, his driver’s license, registration and insurance certificates for the car. Nobody took the expensive GPS navigator – this fact indicates it wasn’t an ordinary burglary. For a few days  Imran was followed and watched by some Russian-speaking people – there is no doubt they were agents of Russian secret services. Their actions were precise and coordinated – there are reasons to believe that they were able to eavesdrop on Imran Ezhiev’s telephone conversations. It could become possible only thanks to the coordination of their efforts with Belgian secret services.
The street, on which the car was parked, was under the observation of multiple video cameras. Simple thieves wouldn’t have dared to break the glass of a car in such a place. When Imran Ezhiev called the police, it refused to come to the crime scene, which again confirms the assumption that the Chechen human rights defender has become a victim of sabotage organized jointly by Russian and Belgian secret services. Belgian democrats and their Russian friends from Putin-Medvedev’s  FSB were enraged by Imran Ezhiev’s active efforts to defend  the rights of Chechen refugee Arbi Zarmaev, incarcerated in Belgian democratic dungeons on false charges and currently being murdered by the democratic hangmen in the prison of Bruges. Imran Ezhiev has managed to pursue the Strasbourg Court to suspend Zarmaev’s extradition from Belgium to Russia. The extradition was suspended on April 5.
Arbi Zarmaev’s Belgian lawyer, to whom  the defendant’s family has paid a large sum of money, is engaged in the unscrupulous sabotage. He tried to convince Imran Ezhiev, referring to a Belgian law from 1874 (!), that it was impossible to send an appeal to the Strasbourg Court. Imran Ezhiev invited to Belgium an Italian professor of psychiatry to examine Arbi Zarmaev. The lawyer exerted more effort than jailors to prevent the Italian professor from examining the tortured Zarmaev. Thanks to Imran Ezhiev’s  incredible perseverance the Italian professor finally was allowed to visit Zarmaev.
For a long time Arbi Zarmaev’s family members were prevented from visiting him. The prison administration claimed he allegedly “didn’t want to see anybody.” On April 6th Imran Ezhiev managed to arrange Zarmaev’s meeting with his wife. What she saw was terrifying: her husband recognized her with difficulty, could not recognize his children. He was crawling on the floor with glazed eyes, was picking up some pills and all the time was muttering: “Fascist… Oh, Allah… Fascist … Oh, Allah …” His wife was shocked. Belgian democratic jailors turned her completely healthy husband  into a deranged animal. Probably they have caused irreversible changes in his mind. Arbi Zarmaev’s physical condition is as depressing as his mental one. For a long time his hands were handcuffed and his legs were shackled, which resulted in deep non-healing wounds. Zarmaev doesn’t have access to any medical care. His wounds are rotting, which can lead to gangrene.
Arbi Zarmaev’s relatives are so desperate that they want to ask to cancel the suspension of Arbi’s extradition to Russia. Their desperation is so great that they are already want  him to be extradited  to Russia in hope that in the Putin-Medvedev’s concentration camp he will be treated somehow better than in the Belgian democratic prison.
I’d like to point out that Belgian politicians and human rights defenders, to whom Imran Ezhiev addressed his plea to help political prisoner Arbi Zarmaev, only made several phone calls to jailors and pretended to believe their assurances that Arbi Zarmaev’s situation was “improving.” Even the Committee Against Torture of the Council of Europe didn’t want to help Arbi Zarmaev.
Belgian democrats have gotten mad at Imran Ezhiev probably also because he, in cooperation with MEPs Frieda Brepoels and Bart Staes, managed to secure the release of political prisoner Aslanbek Baysungurov – an invalid without legs, thrown into Belgian dungeons on absurd charges of “preparing terrorist attacks against the NATO facilities”. In addition, Imran Ezhiev has discovered that Belgian authorities hold in prisons on dim charges large numbers of foreigners – Armenians, Georgians, Uzbeks. Many of them have no idea why they were arrested. This reminds of Arbi Zarmaev’s story – he sat in jail for six months without an arrest warrant and without any charges. 

Eugene Novozhilov
Brussels – Warsaw



2 thoughts on “Prisons of shame: Belgium

  1. kruitvat Post author

    Deserted City: Grozny
    Monday, 28 March 2011

    Grozny again surprised me by the brightness of its evening lights. Like it cannot be sated by the ability to burn lights after that darkness in which it was dipped for several years after bombings and destruction. Yet the avenue is illuminated by lights, leading from the airport to the city. It is like the plane is descending to a place of great celebration.

    After leaving the airport, I notice a new mosque, large and beautiful. “Here many mosques are built now,” the people who receive me say.

    It is close from airport to the city and we reach the center quickly. There is the House of Press, the square of Peoples’ Friendship, and the Alley of journalists. There are many lights, but the people are almost not seen, although it became dark only recently and it is not late…

    The next day, the Victory avenue which was renamed to Putin avenue two years ago, surprised me with its emptiness. It is not only the central street of Grozny, but it is its major artery which can be compared with Tverskaya street in Moscow. It is strange: it is the middle of a Sunday, but there are no people. It even seems to me that during my first visit to Grozny, when only the remains of molding of houses destroyed by bombings showed the past beauty of the streets, there were more people here. True, there were almost no cars at that time, and now there are many. Is Chechnya flourishing so that walkers do not remain and everyone has private transportation?

    However, the picture of a deserted city doesn’t take well to jokes. The new multistory houses, not showing signs of life, make a rather spooky impression; there are neither flowers, nor blinds in their windows. It is obvious that nobody lives in these apartments.

    I reach the church and see its new gilded cupolas. There is a decorated Christmas tree in the church. I meet the Russian woman who I know since the times when the temple was completely destroyed, and believers were gathering on a small premises near its ruins. At that time, a priest didn’t come here even on the holidays. But the decorated Christmas tree was standing in the same way.

    The acquaintance tells me how the population census was taking place here. The overrated results were very required. Even she was asked for advice on how to collect more names.

    “But where to take them from? Few people return and very many go away. There are so many problems here, people are protected by nothing. Three families went away from our house. Even I am thinking yet about moving to my relatives somewhere near Rostov.”

    I am surprised. She outlived two wars here, didn’t go away from the bombings, but now, when the city is all lit up in the evenings, and the cupolas at the temple are gilded, she suddenly decides to move?

    I came to Kadyrov (former Lenin) avenue, puzzled by the handful of skyscrapers at Sunzha bank, one of which is almost built and shines by new toned window glasses. It is Grozny’s new pride, being constructed in the city-center. People tell me that that skyscraper, which is just growing up, is planned to have 45 floors. I pass by a giant construction site and reach Sunzha bank. And it is like something overturns in me: I don’t recognize the river. There were many weeping willows; all the banks were filled with trees. Now there is not one tree here, all are cut down by their roots; the bank from the side of the skyscraper being constructed is dug and mutilated. Over the avenue, behind a fence, I also see the dug space and many stacked cut trees.

    I catch myself in the thought that Sunzha, with the bridge destroyed by a bombing looked not as sinister as it does now. Or they want to enclose it into granite and to make an embankment? I try to imagine the narrow quick-water Sunzha in the granite…

    And there is the central mosque, large and beautiful. But… how it is lost and faded in the shadow of this skyscraper! The authorities of Chechnya were so proud of this mosque. Don’t they see how its beauty is faded by this architectural dissonance?

    But there is not architectural inspectorate and ecologists here. It is doubtful here whether somebody will dare to say shyly, that is would be possible to find another place for skyscrapers, if is so necessary to build them in Grozny…

    Such things are not interesting for people. There are too many other problems.

    There in not snow in Grozny, but here, to the square in front of the mosque, it was delivered. Either genuine or artificial: it even didn’t thaw under the positive temperature. There is a big artificial Christmas tree, it is being disassembled yet, and bulldozers rake up and remove artificial snowdrifts. I tread upon snow. It is very like real one. But how many money was spent to bring it from far away to such a large square. The republic is so rich?

    The façade of five-storey house, new, but scarcely dwelling, looks to the square. The motto “Ramzan, thank you for Grozny!” stands conspicuously above the windows of the last floor. There are two big portraits over the avenue: Kadyrov and Medvedev. I don’t remember such a style just from Brezhnev times. But here the personality cult is in the flowering. However, there are rumors that Ramzan ordered to remove his portraits from streets. But, apparently, they aren’t afraid to ignore such an order of the “chief”: it is seen periodically at squares and crossroads either Kadyrov with Medvedev in their full stature, or with Putin.

    It is dusty and empty in the city. But there are people at the bus stops near former market. Some time it was the most brisk place in Grozny. It was here, were in 1999 the missile, which took hundreds of lives, exploded. Now there is not market here, there is the net of nodal bus stops only.

    I catch a regular bus and go in the direction of Minutka (a square in Grozny). There is the same view from the bus window; new houses, but very few people.

    The areas with private houses are rebuilt, too. One rarely can see a destroyed house – but five years ago these areas consisted of destroyed houses only. If you enter a house, you see the traces of refurbishment everywhere. However, people complain that they did it all themselves and with their own money. But it was promised to them that all would be rebuilt on government money.

    Women complain of unemployment and scanty salaries, a large part of which is deducted to some fund. They complain of the non-payment of compensation, the low level of medicine, and the fact that missing people are not found. They also complain about the fact that guys are still being seized and tortured.

    One woman talks about her nephew who was arrested just recently. However, he was released after three days, but beaten so that he was hardly alive. I advised her to appeal to the committee against torture. She knows about the committee, but the parents of the guy refuse to go such a length. They are afraid. And in general – people here lost faith in legal methods and believe in the illegal ones only: ransom, farming, the search of ties in the relationship between the structures. The deep fear of authorities is perceptible.

  2. Boeykens

    Today, we had planned with 30 Chechens an action for the liberation of Arbi who is still isolated in the most horrible circumstances, in the prison of Bruges.

    When we arrived at the Royal Palace in Brussels, there were about 40 policemen in 3 special police cars who were waiting us.

    It was the same police force (with also members of the secret police) as 14 days ago when we were coming together at the buildings of the European Parliament.

    They forbidded us to spread leaflets and to make photos.

    They repeated all the time that we ‘needed a permission for this manifestation’.

    It is on this way that every news about Arbi is blocked by the Belgian authorities and the Belgian minister Stefaan De Clerck (christen-democratic party) who made a deal with the Russian government for Arbi’s transportation.

    The association Pax Christi said on 8.4.2011 that the European Council (ERC) didn’t accept that Arbi should be detained in a Russian or Chechenen prison because there was a serious risk that he would be tortured and murdered as was the case with a lot of other Chechens.
    The Belgian minister of Justice and the Belgian Council were relativating this risk all the time. But how can they relativate it if they could not even prevent that Arbi was tortured in the prisons of Hasselt and Bruges ? How can they relavate it while Arbi is totally isolated and treated with psychiatric drugs in a Belgian prison ?

    We have contacted the european authorities but they want to cover up this case because they will prove that we are living in ‘free and democratic’ european countries (which tolerate torture practices in european prisons).

    We contacted also the European Comitee Against Torture and the UN Comitee Against Torture but they didn’t reply while the Belgian State was regularely condamned for torture practices in its prisons.

    Arbi’s family is very afraid. She thinks that Arbi will not leave alive the prison in Bruges. During almost 14 days the Belgian authorites are blocking every social contact of Arbi. 24 hours on 24 hours he is closed up and they are making him mad with psychiatric drugs.

    The family will not stop their actions. New and better organized actions without infiltration of the Belgian secret police are already planned.


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