The incident in Harku prison and detention center on Tuesday evening began in a block where asylum seekers were held, when a young man from Congo refused to accept a court decision.
The 25-year-old man refused to talk to prison administrators and take delivery of a court ruling to keep him in the detention for a further two months, despite having the right to appeal the decision, Delfi reported. He then became aggressive.
The man was taken to solitary confinement, after which the other around 40 asylum seekers in the block, mostly from African and Middle Eastern nations, started protesting, promising to “go all the way.”
As police were outnumbered, the area was locked down until reinforcements arrived. Police asked the men to move back to their cells for 1.5 hours, before moving in and clearing the area. Rubber bullets were used, but no one was hurt. The situated ended at around 22:00 on Tuesday evening, roughly three hours after the man from Congo was approached with the court decision.
Head of the prison, Pärtek Preinvalts, told Delfi the situation now is calm and the two men who led the protest have been separated from others. He said this was the worst caseof insubordination he had witnessed in his 12 years at the center.
“It is often hard for them to understand that we have a law, which we follow. Laws are different in those countries, as is understanding on good and bad, and right and wrong. For them the situation yesterday was one of the police acting unjustly by taking their friend to a locked room. They understood it as giving them a moral right to protest, occupy an area and refuse to leave,” Preinvalts told Postimees, adding that he sees it as two different incidents – one where the man did not follow orders and the other a question whether police used excessive force or not.
The center currently holds around 65 people, all either asylum seekers or those waiting deportation.
Editor: J.M. Laats