Picket SERCO Headquarters 22 Hand Court, Holborn, WC1V 6JF

Friday 19 June 12.30-2pm

Nearest Tubes: Holborn or Chancery Lane

Women, children and men in the Family Unit at Yarl’s Wood IRC [1] are in the third day of a hunger strike and sit-in to protest against their “degrading and dehumanising” detention and in support of their urgent demands to be released (see below).  Together they have been able to resist attempts to remove two families.  At least 90% of the families are taking part in the actions including upwards of 20 older children who decided to strike.

Mr Soloman Ojeheomon and his wife told us that

“Everyone is very traumatised including by being snatched during dawn raids -we don’t believe that British people condone such brutal treatment by the immigration authorities.  Pregnant women, babies, and children are going without vital healthcare.  Many are sick with a virus and cannot eat or sleep.  My family is due are about to be deported but we never had the right to appeal against the Home Office’s decision – even though we have very compelling reasons to be allowed to stay”.

While we were getting more news from Mr Ojeheomon’s wife, she began screaming for help because guards began to attack Mr Ojeheomon.  Within seconds of the attack their mobile phone went dead.  We fear that Mr Ojeheomon has been targeted by the immigration authorities for taking a stand against the brutal treatment of children and other vulnerable people.  Like others who have protested SERCO’s [2] draconian treatment he and his family are being denied justice and face violent removed.

Please bring placards, whistles instruments and banners to show support for the people resisting internment within the UK's immigration prison system, and demand the immediate release of the hunger strikers from the Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre. (See below for other action if you can’t make it)

For interviews from the picket call: 07980 659 831

Organised by: Detainee Solidarity London - a coalition of groups who work with migrants and asylum seekers in London and the South East. Groups include: All African Women’s Group, Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Fight Racism Fight Imperialism, London Coalition Against Poverty, Haringey Solidarity Group, London Detainee Support Group, No Borders Brighton, No Borders London and various church groups from across the capital.

Message Yarl’s Wood Mothers & Fathers on Hunger Strike

Points of protest

  1. Children, some as young as five months old, in this detention, are sick. Most were struck down with virus, they are not eating properly since they are not used to the food here, not sleeping properly, restless and suffers other psychological manifestations including nightmares, bedwetting, screaming at night, violent behaviors, and other emotional outbursts like crying etc.
  2. A recently bereaved family of three who lost their twins buried just about a month ago being detained and giving removal directions without even a chance to say farewell to the grave at Everton cemetery where three of their children are buried.
  3. Pregnant women, some with complications, are detained with total disregard of their well-being, including a pregnant lady, who is also suffering from depression and anxiety.
  4. A lady recently went through a major life threatening operation for ectopic pregnancy a couple of months ago, and now detained without even sufficient time to recover.
  5. An epileptic lady who suffers multiple seizures, up to six times in a twenty-four hour period with only a 14 year old son to look  after her. The occupants tried to assist in such distressing times.
  6. Families in considerable distress being plucked out of their beds early in the morning, and transported in mobile prisons for long hours to the airport.
  7. The continuing detention has placed Considerable Stress on families and as such we have decided to rise with a single voice and say no to detention of innocent people.
  8. Hence, this is the second day of a continuing hunger-strike. Also, tonight (Tuesday evening), all occupants here, with the children, have decided to spend the night protesting outside (courtyard).
  9. We will appreciate any help and advice we can get from you. 

Other action:

Write pressing for:

  • an immediate independent investigation into the conditions in the Family Unit
  • an end to  the detention of pregnant women, babies, children, survivors of rape and other torture, and other vulnerable people.

 Please send letters:

Rt. Hon. Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for the Home Office

Fax: 020 7035 3262

Anne Owers CBE, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, 1st Floor Ashley House 2 Mouck Street, London SW1P 2BQ  Fax: 020 7035 2141

Stephen Shaw, Prisons Ombudsman

Fax 020 7035 2860,

Human Rights Complaints, HRC against Torture


[1] Yarl's Wood Immigration Detention Centre at Clapham near Bedford was built to hold up to 900 male detainees, making it the largest immigration detention centre in Europe when it opened on 19th November 2001. It burnt to the ground in February 2002 following protests and a hunger strike against the appalling conditions there. It was subsequently rebuilt to house 405 women and families with children held in detention as so-called failed asylum seekers and those the government deem to be illegal immigrants and awaiting deportation. Since reopening, the long list of abuses and protest has continued to grow. These include an unannounced visit by the Inspector of Prisons that found significant concerns about safety, record keeping at the prison and more the length of time children were being held there. There have been several women-led hunger strikes and other protests.

[2] SERCO Home Affairs run Yarl's Wood on behalf of the UK Border Agency.