Last weekend (January 18-19) several entities of the network of the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe partner in Spain, Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes (SJM), celebrated prayer vigils to denounce the existence of detention centres (CIE – Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros) and to give visibility to the situation of migrants unfairly held in detention.

Seville, Madrid and Barcelona hosted these events of denouncement, awareness and solidarity, in which Asociacion Claver, Pueblos Unidos and Fundació Migra Studium actively participated.

In Seville, around 70 people celebrated a “Circle of Silence” in tribute to the migrants detained in those centres, with the slogan: “Why these walls? Let’s give back hope”. Participants read real testimonies of detainees, and how it has affected their lives. 

In Madrid around 140 people met close to the CIE for a moment of reflection and prayer under the slogan “More Hospitality, Less Hostility”.

Some former detainees joined Catholic organizations working to promote the rights of migrants. 

45 organizations and 250 people met in the detention centre of the city of Barcelona to celebrate the vigil “You are not alone, stop hostility”.

During the event, participants read sacred readings from Christianity, Judaism and Islam that invite to reject hostility against migrants, and testimonies of people that have fostered hospitality through hosting refugees and migrants at their homes.

Artist Ignasi Flores picked up on the unanimous cry of the attendees and civil society on a 6 × 2 metre mural painted on the door of the CIE: “We want hospitality”. Some real testimonies of people locked up after more than 20 years living in Barcelona were read and meditated on: ​​stories of suffering, of disbelief, of uncertainty and injustice, of violated rights.

Three vigils in three cities with the same aim, the closure of the CIEs. “Neither silence nor indifference, we want hospitality; enough of hostility with migrants”.

(With information from Jesuit Refugee Service Europe)

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Spanish Bishops demand Government close immigration detention centres

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.