Protest and Speak Out "THIS IS A PRISON NOT A HOLIDAY CAMP"
International week of actions to close detention centres 15 - 21 June 2015, 12 noon to 2pm: Parliament Square, nearest tube Westminster.
CLOSE YARL'S WOOD AND ALL DETENTION CENTRES!
Detention without limit – Rape by guards – No healthcare – Mothers separated from their kids – Fast Track decisions – No legal representation – Profiteering from detainees' work – Violent deportations
In March, 100s of people in 8 out of 11 UK detention centres from Dover to Dungavel in Scotland held spontaneous hunger strikes protesting human rights abuses including indefinite detention.
In April, women throughout Yarl’s Wood IRC refused to eat until the authorities released a traumatised wife whose husband had collapsed and died.
Also in April in the US, migrant mothers detained in Karnes, Southern Texas went on hunger strike to protest against being sexually violated in front of their children.
Over 1,200 have drowned this year in the Mediterranean fleeing war and poverty. Survivors who have reached European shores have said “we are here because your governments are in our countries causing devastation”.
The All African Women’s Group, a self-help group of women asylum seekers, many of whom have been detained in Yarl’s Wood IRC, sometimes for as long as two years, are spearheading this protest to make visible the extreme suffering and injustice of detention and to demand the closure of all detention centres.
The reality of a £164 million (2013) detention industry is being hidden from the public. Detention means:
- 30,000 people a year are held without charge or conviction, without time limit, deprived of legal support, translation or healthcare.
- Widespread rape and other abuse from guards, most notably in Yarl’s Wood. Women’s protests have been reported in the press but complaints are often met with retribution. One woman who was made pregnant by a guard. He was sacked but she was deported. A former mental health nurse turned whistleblower and Channel 4’s undercover video footage showed a racist, sexist, abusive regime, endorsed by Serco the private company that runs Yarl’s Wood.
- Mothers say: our children risk being separated from us forever if we are detained. Social services are eager to take our kids and put them in foster care or up for adoption.Children are detained sometimes with the active collaboration of charities.
- Legal cases are heard without lawyers because of legal aid cuts. Thousands of people are “fast tracked” out of the UK without time to get evidence.
- A regime of terror and threat hangs over all people fighting for the right to stay in the UK. As one woman put it: “I shake with fear every time I sign on because this could be the time they snatch me out of the line and detain me.”
- Rampant physical violence from guards during deportations. None of us will forget Jimmy Mubenga held down by G4S guards until he suffocated. Jackie Nanyonjo died on arrival in Uganda after being restrained like Jimmy Mubenga.
- Slave wages become commonplace. Detainees are paid £1 an hour to serve food, do the laundry and clean the centre saving private corporations millions and undercutting wages outside.
“They say it is not a prison but we are locked up so what is the difference. We are deliberately isolated. Our mail and email are censored and faxes, even to our lawyers are blocked. When we report ill treatment, nothing happens or worse we are treated as trouble makers and put in isolation where suicide watch is used to harass us, invade our privacy and deprive us of sleep. I fought and got released but had lost my housing and was destitute. My children were terrified I would be taken from them again so we lived underground. No wonder women do desperate things to survive. Ms M, AAWG, detained in YW.
In Nov 2014 the Home Office awarded Serco a £70 million contract to run Yarl’s Wood for another eight years. G4S were given the contract to run the healthcare centre.
The anti-detention movement has changed the climate everywhere. In Greece, the Syriza government has started to close its detention centres. In Scotland the SNP has called for the closure of Dungavel. In the US, the New York Times is proposing an end to detention. In the UK, a cross party All Parliamentary Working Group is recommending to limit detention, including to a maximum of 28 days.
Right to migrate! Close Detention Centres! No more deportations!
WHAT WE CAN DO:
- Organise an action on 15J- a hunger strike, a vigil, a sit-in, a meeting, a demonstration, an art event…
- Contactyour MP, councillor, representative, your organisation or your church demanding that detention centres are closed. Ask them to come to the protest on their doorstep.
- Circulate and translatethis message, contact the press if you can.
- Send amessage of support we will circulate it.
Whatever you do, let us and the Spanish organisers know so we can publicise it. You can send your proposed activity by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. All activities will be showcased at this website: https://15jdiacontraloscie.wordpress.com/