120 detainees at Yarl’s Wood IRC on hunger strike in protest of inhumane conditions
On the 21 February 2018 over 100 detained women at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) went on hunger strike in protest of the inhumane conditions and offensive practices of the Home Office.
In their hand written statement the hunger striking women listed the reasons for their protest, criticising the Home Office for its treatment of detainees in the UK. The detainees criticised the Home Office for detaining individuals who came to the UK as minors and for detaining victims of torture and asylum seekers. They also protest the Home Office’s lengthy detention of migrants, pointing out that the UK is the only country in the EU with no time limit on detention.
– The UK is the only country in the EU with no time limit on detention and people are detained indefinitely pending the Home Office’s incompetent and untimely manner in handling cases.
– Rape. The Home Office refuse to accept that rape is torture, we find this fundamentally offensive as they continue to detain victims of sexual and gender based violence.
– Victims of Torture, Human trafficking, modern Slavery, asylum seekers and sick and disabled people continue to be detained.
(Detained Voices, “Yarl’s Wood Detainees began a hunger strike”, 21 February 2018)
After the initial three days of hunger striking, the detainees stated on the website “Detained Voices” that the Home Office had failed to acknowledge or respond the their protest. As a result, the detained women issued a number of demands directed at the Home Office;
We want an end to indefinite detention and a return to the original plan of the 28 day limit.
We want the Home Office to respect Article 8.
We want the Home office to respect the European Convention of Human Rights regarding refugees and asylum seekers.
We want the Home Office to respect due process and stop deporting people before their cases are decided or appeals are heard.
We want due processes before we are imprisoned on immigration matters.
We want a fair bail process and the Home Office to end the process of selective evidence disclosure to the immigration tribunal courts and instead disclosure of all evidence to ensure a fair judgement is reached.
We want adequate healthcare and especially the mental health nurse to stop operating as an extension of the Home Office asking people such questions as, “did you know you were going to stay in the UK when you entered?”
We want the Home Office to stop detaining the vulnerable people, that is victims of rape, that is torture, all forms of torture, trafficking, forced labour, the disabled, the mentally ill and so on.
We want amnesty for all people who have lived in the UK for more than 10 years and an end to the exiling of those who came as children and are culturally British.
We want an end to the Home Office’s of employing detainees to do menial work for £1 per hour, it prays on the vulnerable and forces them to participate in their own detention.
We want an end to charter flights and the snatching of people from their beds in the night and herding them like animals.
The women stated that on Monday 26 February 2018 they would aggravate their strike by ceasing to not only eat, but also to participate in any work or using any of the facilitates at the detention centre. This intensification of the strike is the women’s response to the Home Office inaction following the start of the hunger strike.
According to the participating women at Yarl’s Wood IRC this “is the only option we are left with to express how we feel. We will not eat till we are free”
If you, a relative or friend are detained and need expert advice, don’t hesitate to call one of our detention specialists on 0203 503 0880.