When we hear the echoes that pierce through the walls of the Forest prison, when we have suffered it’s confinement in putrid cells, when we visit someone close completely ruined by their detention, there is only one possible sane reaction: the scream of rage.
The years pass and the suicides and deaths in this Brussels jail link together, the scandals that occasionally erupt disappear as quickly as they appeared and detention conditions only get worse. The years pass and every day this prison remains standing, we somehow all become accomplices to these atrocities by the state inflicted against detainees, in the name of the Law and Order. Of course, we don’t forget there are those who bear more responsibility: politicians, prison officers, execution guards, doctors who cover up abjections with their silence, companies that make money from this prison. But the shadow of Forest weighs on us all. It exists also because we continue to accept it’s suffering.
You see, the line between inside and outside is not as transparent as you might believe. When by our silence or by our resignation we endorse the existence of a place so abject as the Forest prison, next to our homes, the walls transpire to be not thick enough to rid ourselves of all responsibility. Prison is an issue that concerns us all, whether we like it or not.
So it’s clear. What we talk about here is not to depress us, or even to “feel sorry” over the fate of detainees. It is a scream of rage, because it alone could be able to stop what’s happening behind the barbed wire of the Forest prison. It alone could take the burden and return some air into these infected cells. It alone could liberate us, we who are outside – or rather still outside, because unlike bosses, the banker and the rich; the rebel, the excluded, the exploited, is likely to meet prison along their way – but one who feels the shadow of Forest.
So the scream of rage. We emphasise some rage, not a call for help. What sense would it have to address the politicians or administrators of this world to ask them something? What good would it do, to still speak to their officials, whom for years have actively endorsed the atrocious situation at the Prison of Forest? Rage is not trying to convince the higher-ups, it seeks to finish, immediately and by itself, a situation that is unbearable. Everything else, even the charitable initiatives with the best of intentions, contributes only to continue the situation.
And it goes even further. Today, the State shamefully asserts its atrocious conditions at the Forest Prison to promote it’s plan to build a maxi-prison in Brussels. By playing on the disgust that we feel faced with how it subjects detainees, it wants to make us swallow an even greater imprisonment project. More humane, it says. To deal with overcrowding, it says. To finally close the Forest Prison, it says. In the meanwhile, until the maxi-prison is built, that is to say for at least some years to come still, the situation at Forest will remain as it is today. How can you believe that these people who for years have been able to use Forest prison to break thousands of people and condone the atrocities inflicted against detainees, won’t do exactly the same once their new prison sees the light of day?
To rid ourselves of the last illusions over the State’s humanity, we have to understand why the Prison of Forest is what it is today. It is neither an accident, nor the result of a tragic course or an unfortunate abnormality. It’s a choice. A choice by the State to inject docility into the neighbourhoods of Brussels with the disposal of such an instrument. To terrorise those who are bound to break the law… Make no mistake, a new prison would have exactly the same remit. If the State today can take less “atrocious” forms (while considering that locking someone up is in itself already torture), tomorrow, to better fulfil its function of punishment and terror, it again hosts teams of tabasser guards, cells for three or four, destruction of the detainee by illness and the lack of hygiene… the Forest Phantom haunts any prison, whether new or old.
The scream of rage is also therefore a scream loaded with the future. To not accept it today, is to prepare to not accept it tomorrow. That is why we must close Forest now. We have to close it. To demolish it so that it can’t be rebuilt. By the force of our rejection and violence of our revolt. The ruined.
Unhealthy, unlivable, the Prison of Forest must become unmanageable. Inmates can get started with revolts and rebellions, but also with sabotage. Forest Prison is so dilapidated that water pipelines sabotaged and broken electrical circuits could make it uncontrollable (which automatically would implicate its closure, like at Verviers prison almost four years ago). On flooding and flooding, encouraging those close to us on the inside to accelerate the closure of Forest by sabotage; let’s be at their side for them to feel our complicity and solidarity.
On the outside as well, we can place our grain of sand to fuck up the vicious circle. Policymakers, collaborating institutions, the companies that profit; the collaborators of this repressive work aren’t protected by walls or barbed wire. They are often found at the corner of our street. When we give them back the daily possible amount, their daily amount of endorsing and sowing the terror that reigns in the Prison of Forest… When it kicks off with riots in Forest prison, reconnecting with a not so distant past, when we took to the streets, stones and molotovs in our hands; we also riot in the streets of this necropolis.
If by ourselves we are to immediately demolish Forest prison, this certainly isn’t to accept a new maxi-prison tomorrow. These two battles, against these two prisons, go hand in hand. In their hearts, they are freedom and solidarity. That’s what makes them extremely explosive.