Friends of Marianne Maeckelbergh

News Release

For Immediate Release 10/7/10
Contacts: Adam Weissman (718) 880-7979
               Brandon Jourdan (646) 342-8169

PRESS CONFERENCE:
US Citizen Arrested and Tortured by Belgian Police
Among 500 Arrested in Police Crackdown on Immigrant Rights Gathering

NEW YORK - On Friday, October 8th, at 12:30PM at the Belgian Consulate on 40th Street just west of 6th Avenue (40th Street entrance to 1065 6th Avenue) Manhattan, friends of Dr. Marianne Maeckelbergh and human rights advocates will hold a press conference in conjunction with the filing of a complaint in the Belgian courts by human rights lawyers against the wrongful arrest and torture of a US citizen and hundreds of others last week in Brussels.

Last Friday, US citizen Dr. Marianne Maeckelbergh, professor at the University of Leiden in Holland, was arrested for taking pictures while police were making aggressive arrests in Brussels, Belgium. Having just entered Belgium from Holland two and a half hours earlier, she was on the terrace of a cafe with friends when she witnessed violent arrests on the street. She went to take pictures and was herself arrested by the police chief. She was taken into police custody where she was violently dragged by her hair, chained to a radiator, hit, kicked, spat upon, called a whore, and threatened with sexual assault by the police. The police also tried to trick her into signing a false statement that would have implicated her in a crime she did not commit . She also witnessed the torture of another prisoner also chained to a radiator. This took place not in a dark corner of the police station but out in the open, directly witnessed by police station authorities who gave the impression that this was standard practice. Police removed her ID card, USB stick, the camera with the photos on it, and 25 euros in cash from her property and have refused to return them.

Roughly 500 participants in the No Border Camp "a convergence of struggles aiming to end the system of borders that divide us all, were arrested in Brussels last week. Lawyers charge that many of these arrests were preemptive and politically motivated, involving arrestees who had committed no crime. As of today, four people remain incarcerated.

Supporters are calling on the UN Committee Against Torture to investigate these events as part of an ongoing pattern of torture of prisoners in Belgium. In 2003, the UN Committee Against Torture investigated Belgium for the abuse of prisoners, supported by case of abuse documented by Amnesty International. In 2009, Turkish citizen Mikayil Tekin, was tortured to death in a Belgian prison after being arrested during a dispute with traffic police.

Dr. Maeckelbergh is available for interview and can be contacted through the spokesmen listed above.

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