STOP PRESS: Emergency Demo Solidarity with Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers
4-5pm, Wed 28 Feb, outside the Home Office, Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF.
Called by Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants: co-hosted with All African Women’s Group, Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Docs Not Cops, End Deportations, Right to Remain, SOAS Detainee Support, The London Latinxs, and others
Update: Yarl’s Wood Hunger Strike . . . for immediate release
“They’re trying to break us down but we’re not about to give in to them or their threats”
“Theresa” currently on hunger strike told us that they are being denied the right to fax statements about their conditions and demands. She said “we are about 20 women and 14 men taking complete hunger strike . . . yesterday our statement was confiscated by an officer called Claire. Today we tried to send faxes of our demands from [the] health care [area] where we are holding a silent protest. After we faxed, 2 officers came following us and tried to take our papers away . . . I refused to give them – tell the director to come pick them from me himself.”
Theresa says that threats have been made by the director Steven Hewer to take “trouble –makers” to prison – “protesters are being called to the Home Office one by one, supposedly to address our demands but instead they are updating people on their individual cases. . . our protest is a peaceful quiet one and we don’t appreciate having the threat of HMP prisons directed at us”.
Over and over again women protesting in Yarl’s Wood have been targeted for punishment– and the same goes for protesters against detention around the world. See our sister Maru who has been targeted for deportation in the US.
From mothers threatened with being deported without their children to rape survivors who haven’t been able to speak about what they suffered in the “hostile environment” in which asylum claims are considered, women in Yarl’s Wood face removal without having had a fair hearing. Sexism, racism and other discrimination result in the Home Office routinely refusing to believe women, flouting its own instructions about how it should treat “Gender Issues in the Asylum Claim”. Legal aid cuts deprive women of legal representation and advice, and vital evidence to pursue appeals, instead judges “rubber stamp” Home Office refusals flouting their own guidance on how they should treat “vulnerable witnesses”. Their cases having been unjustly closed, women face destitution, detention and deportation.
- Shorter bail request periods [quicker bail hearings]
2. Amnesty for those who have lived in the UK 10 years and above
- End indefinite detention
- End Charter flights
5. No more re-detention
6. End systematic torture in Yarl’s Wood
7. Stop separating families
8. No detention of people who came to the UK as children
9. The beds need to be changed
10. LGBT+ persons’ sexuality be believed
11. Fit emergency alarms in every room in the detention centre
12. Give us access to proper healthcare
- Give us proper food to look after our diets
- Release people with outstanding applications
- We want to speak to Alistair Burt MP for the constituency
We also call for:
- An end to detention; immediately release mothers and children, pregnant women, survivors of rape and other torture, people who are mentally or physically sick and other vulnerable people.
- An independent investigation into claims of rape and other sexual abuse against women held in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre
- Reinstate legal aid for all asylum and immigration cases to ensure women and men get a chance of a fair hearing against the Home Office’s racism, sexism and determination to deport no matter how unjustly.
- An official investigation into what happens to people who are deported, including those deported from the unlawful Detained Fast Track, so that they can get the help they need.
- No NGO collaboration with, and promotion of, so-called “voluntary” and “family returns”, and any other government processes that depend on injustice, destitution, detention and forced deportations to drive asylum seekers out.
- Close down Yarl’s Wood and detention centres everywhere!
Those in detention have the right to be here. Those of us on hunger strike have the right to be here: count the contribution that African and other third world people have made over hundreds of years to the wealth in the UK.
Some recent press coverage:
100 Immigrant Women Are on Hunger Strike at a Notorious UK Detention Center
Yarl’s Wood female hunger striker facing deportation tomorrow
Cristel Amiss, Black Women’s Rape Action Project on Yarl’s Wood hunger strike