“Mum, when are you coming back?” – I have no answer for them

I am here right now in Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre. I’ve been here for over 2 months. I’ve been here before. I’ve been brought back again, all to do with my Home Office application. I’ve put so many applications in and I’ve been turned down. I’ve been here for over 20 years. I had my children here in the UK – they are all British citizens. My husband is a British citizen. I’ve been trying so many ways to put in my application and they keep turning me down for one reason or the other.
There are constant Charter Flight for West African countries i:e Ghana, Nigeria etc every other months. WHY? and these flights always operate in different airports, for example the last one took place at Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster.
 
I’m still here detained and my children are out there – everyday – everyday – asking me: “Mum, when are you coming back – Mum, when are you coming back?” – I have no answer for them because I personally don’t even know when I am going back to join my children.

Everyone, everyday is crying. My health is deteriorated because I am always in constant panic – what’s going to happen? Are they going to separate me from my children? Are they going to give me a forceful divorce from my husband? All this I keep wondering – it’s actually affecting my mental health right now as I speak to you. There many other nationals here in the detention centre suffering from one type of illness or another. It’s not fair at all.

The funniest thing – I’ve been having palpitations – kind of like heart attacks since I’ve been here. Nightmares … panic all the time. Each time you approach the health care they just tell you paracetamol – they give you paracetamol and tell you: “oh there’s nothing wrong with you”.

Meanwhile deep inside you know what is killing you. You know what is hurting you. But each time you approach them: “Go and take paracetamol” – and that is it. So it really is very appalling here. A lot of people, it’s been effecting them one way or another.

Some ladies even coming in here with pregnancy. One lost her pregnancy some time ago. So, I don’t really understand what this detention centre is all about. I’ll give you example: one of my room mates came here with a spouse visa and her husband is British Citizen. She’s married to him, but for some reason they say they don’t believe that they are husband and wife. So I don’t know how you want to prove yourself that you are husband and wife.
She’s been having some trauma here. Her head – some things are moving – her stomach – she’s got fibroids – she’s been trying to have baby. She’s had two miscarriages, but they will not listen. So, to be honest I have no single clue what this detention is all about. Is it to tear families apart? Or to destroy … I have no clue what is the main intention of this detention is about.

The United Kingdom is supposed to be a home where you run for safety. But I don’t know … it doesn’t seem to be like that. Because, to see how we are going through in this very centre you would be wondering: Is this in the United Kingdom at all?

I see a very heartbroken place to be honest. I am not happy with anything that is happening here. I’m not happy with the way I’m being separated from my children, my husband, friends … I’m not really happy because it doesn’t tell good of this country.

I have gone through hell here to be honest. Sometimes I wonder if I’m in the right place. Like I said, it’s a country where people bring their self for safety – we believed this was a humanitarian country. But I don’t know how this treatment here in Yarl’s Wood – I don’t know what to believe any more.

Christmas is approaching. We believe that Christmas is meant to be a time of family being together. But now we are all far away from our family. This is not good at all.

There’s been some protest this afternoon. We’ve been shouting today – my voice is tired! There are people who [believe] it shouldn’t be this way [who] have actually come and protest on our behalf. For us, all we want is to get this place shut down. Because it’s not really portraying what it says it is. So many times you put in an application, or provide this or provide that – and they still come back with no answer. So what is the use of this place? What is the use of this place? I thought it’s meant to help out.

So really, the manner in which the whole thing is being conducted is very, very, very, very wrong. We are all human, irrespective. My family are really … my children are really confused. I remember the last phone call before they announced that I wasn’t going on that flight, I called my kids and told them: “This is what is happening now – if I don’t call you any more … I’ll try and call you when I get to the other end – but this is what is happening”. And my children were asking me: “Why mummy?”. I said: “I don’t know why – I can’t answer why – I can’t answer – I can’t answer – if I can answer the ‘why’, maybe I wouldn’t be talking to you now in this moment”. I have asked the ‘why’ myself – I can’t answer them. So, I don’t know.

My youngest daughter was all in tears – she couldn’t talk. So you see, this is not only done to individuals but also to the children and whoever is close to you. For me I just feel like it’s tearing families apart. If you take me away from here, that means you’re telling me to go and re-marry or you’re telling my husband to remarry. When we’re far apart – the kids – what happens to them? Still, I can’t understand the whole meaning of that.

We’ve been on hunger strike for some days now. Because of the charter flight as well as not being happy being in here. So it’s not only the charter flight. When you come in here you find out everybody is miserable. Almost every time you find people in tears, you know? What sort of life is that? You don’t even know what’s going to happen the next moment. It’s a very horrible situation to be honest.

Honestly, this detention centre, I don’t know what it was built for but, to be honest, in my own understanding, it’s not really doing anything good to anybody but destroying people and destroying families. They’re breaking families and inflicting pain. We’re all human irrespective – whatever the situation – we are all human being.

This place needs to be shut down – truly. This place needs to be shut down! It’s not serving any purpose for anyone. The Home Office might say it’s serving them a good purpose, but it’s not true – not true. They’re only wounding people.

You need to see how much money people are spending for lawyers, continuously … if you spend that type of money for a lawyer but you get a final result that might be just okay. But if you spend all that money and then at the end of the day you’re still taken away! What must you do? Just making other people rich? Making other people just to have pain?

I have two beautiful daughters. They need my presence around them; to help them become a proper citizen, not for them to just come out in whatever way – no – I need to build them as a mother to give them proper motherly attention and build them to become a proper citizen. Not just to become anybody just for the sake of being human – NO.

They’re taking me away from them – what will happen? These are girls, you know? Before you know it, tomorrow, they’re pregnant, or something will happen. And then that is the end of their work – their career. But if there is a mother beside them to show them and speak to them … “You get pregnant alright but not now” … help them, there are many ways you can help to bring them up. If you take me away from them that’s giving them freedom to do anything that is not right. That’s not good. We end up breeding wrong children in the society.

Sometimes I just sleep and I just wake up like as if I’m having some nightmare all because of thinking about my children my husband. Each time I speak to them – when I call them to say goodnight, I have to say goodnight with tears in my eyes. That’s not life. That’s not life at all.

 

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If I call the police the police will arrest me

I want to say many things I can’t say because I don’t speak – understand – English. I feel really really thankful you have called us back and you have patience to listen to us. Our story. I’m here three months. I have – I’m not in health here and the people…

My partner is here. My partner is here. He have his job and he said he call the home office and the police. And last four years he abuse me. His violence and abuse. He call the police, always said horrible horrible things. He do all these things to me, and he do many, many evil drug. And the wish the police about me.

I’m from <British city>, the <British city> number one force, he pays the front, and the <British city> police force he family brother. He try murder me kill me. And he told me. If I will call the police to him. He told me, and he use word, he make us in prison. He said and never no matter you go out. And that someday you go back <country> if you want to make me trouble because I will call the police, I talk to my friend, I go to church talk to the pastor, I know what happen – he kill, he try to more than kill people, people bury them in the garden. I should call the police but police they no do nothing because police scared of him. He really danger man and a paedophile and the police no do anything.

He call the home office, twelve, ten, September ten, and he call police come in home, I was in the bathroom the two police officers come, were very very rude to me. They no met me take everything. Say go to police station, you no have a British passport, you no have a legal, you need to come to go back to your where you’re from.

They take me, I go to a police station and 40 hours after send me here, in Yarl’s Wood. And I don’t know what’s this place, it’s a prison, immigration prison. My human rights broken down. And he called the home office, and he said, he told me, and if you make me trouble, and you got trouble. Yeah you got trouble. You will die there, you will die there, you will die there. There no matter you’ll never never no see your child. Never never no you’ll no see your baby again. Because you make me trouble. I said I speak true. You are evil devil. You try to murder people kill people you deal drugs, you’re a paedophile. Police no catch you because you have power, your power is devil power, evil power. Do you understand me? And he called home office and put me here. Because he said the home office are my partners, my partners <names> he work here and left her here, laugh about he told me he job. He have big kind of job, something like CIA, he said he job something like MI5 MI6, if he kill like 5, 6 people, he never never no go to court, he never no go to prison.

I want to say that my human right has broken down in this country. And I have come this country 2005, December 15, on the spouse visa, and a husband and wife, because the husband is violent, and I have make application to remain UK to Home Office. Home Office say I don’t have money, I don’t have house and you have relationship broken down and why you no return back your where you from. I said I can’t go back. Because I have one child the child is baby when the baby a new born baby.

When the baby born, the home office and social services they meeting together and the home office say don’t want to give <speaker> any indefinite remain UK. We want she go and we don’t want she live this country, ask any benefit income and house benefit, and if she have money from <country> and my parents send her money to UK and buy big house to me and social service back my baby. And the home office say if you parents no send her money to UK if you no have house and we don’t give money UK we send you go back <country>, and social service put my child in adoption. And my heart is broken.

And this happened and stop I see my baby five years ago. In 2013. When I hold my baby. And social services say you need to talk your baby’s face, goodbye, is forever. Because we contact home office, home office say we no more to give your remain UK. If you no have any house if you no have any money in bank we no return back your child. Because the child’s father is English, the child’s British, they stay in this country, you’re not British, you need to go back where you from!

And go back <country>. If you no go back <country> we’ll contact home office and they’ll send you go to prison, send you go to immigration centre, send you go back <country>. And that’s why, my partner, you know he have power. He do the criminal things but then the police, they no catch him. And he tell the Home Office and the Police. He say the Home Office ask her, and the violence, abuse, and punish me, kill me. Because I have call the police, he told me rude words, and no let me go out. And 22nd eleven – November – they give me ticket want to send me go back <country>, I said I not go without my child. I need to see my child and I want my child return, if this country no let me stay you hurting me, you hurting my child, because my partner he’s paedophile.

He said if he no see me he will no contact my child, he know about everything about where is my baby. He said who look after your baby, your child, <speaker>, because I know your child, where your child, I will contact adoption and is the father and the mother because it’s my good friends. Oh, I can’t trust this man because he is so devil evil because if he do something bad to my child no one listen me, police no, does not work for me. If I will call police, police catch me and put me here. If I call the police the police will arrest me and put the police station 24 hour. And this happen in the last four years, is many many times.

If I will call the police to him, he said, I send you go back <country>. And I – you finish. You never never no see your child again. And I want you know this country has law, and this country say has human rights. The things happen, the judge and all the home office, the council, police, the social service, always broken law, they do the horrible horrible things. That no respect the law. And no have any human rights. And they use words here the people – staff is rude. The floor is no nice the room is dirty, and the people have stress. How many people, how many woman here? Hundred. Hundred woman and everyone different situation. And the people, the woman crying, you know no drink and no eat, and very very stressful, and you know they miss children, miss husband, miss family, always why home office want to do that to people? Why wanting hurting me, why wanting broken my family?

It’s my life in here. UK England is not my mother country but I have come here for married, husband, I have child here. I see this country is my second mother country. I know England I know UK. But this country doesn’t no like me. I’m no have any feel welcome. They broken my life, stop my life. And take my baby away. I want my child returned, please to help me. I my human rights go. I want to go to <unclear> I want to go to street, my human rights broken down, and the <British city> police really really bad. And they say if you go to street <British city>, we arrest you. You never no see your child.

You know, it’s really – you know, my partner, he is great <unclear>, he have power, he’s really… because he have power, and no more the police want to catch him, recently he call the police station 24 hour after he come back, he do more about me, you understand? Because the council, and always, they not give me any support, and the Home Office take my passport and not give me, not give me nothing, and I have never no claim any one penny this country.

I want to talk you more and many many things. My situation is. I want to know the home office send my partner and come in my life, do not kill me, murder me, is horrible horrible things. I promise you, I speak everything truth, I have emailed to Julian Assange.

Yeah, I have many many things want to say. Yeah. You don’t know all the trouble, in <British city> and social service.

Why can’t two people fall in love and be happy?

I met ____ about 5 year ago. We got married last year – last November – we got married. We’ve been to see about getting Leave to Remain so she can live here – remain here – get a British passport and everything. We’ve been to see many people – MPs, we’ve wrote letters – many solicitors, and no one has seemed, you know, to fully understand my side of things. Cause I’ve got rights in this country surely to God. I’m a British citizen so no one’s hearing our voice really. On both sides – mine and my wife’s.

She got bail – she got to sign every other Wednesday, and then last went down, last time we went down they’ve detained her. And she ended up in Bedford Detention Centre. And so, she’s still in there – just trying to get her released basically. She shouldn’t even be in there.

It’s devastating. It’s disgusting. How they treat people – and they’ve done this – without hearing her voice – just detained her.

The whole legal system wants overviewing. It wants independent summary to overlook all this innovation malarkey [missed] but my wife’s never worked, I spoke to her – she’s never signed on – never asked for money from the government. [missed] until we’ve got all this sorted out. I mean she wants to work, but she just can’t work. It will end her in more stuck.

They just treat everybody as one person – it’s not right. She’s an individual – it’s the individual cases surely. You know, it should be heard individually, not just treated as one person, sort of thing.

And I’m sure my wife will tell you the same thing basically. They’re going to protest – I just said to her – be careful – how you’re gonna do it sort of thing? Don’t cause more trouble for yourself … but yeah – hunger strike is alright – as long as it’s a peaceful demonstration that’s alright. I just said “Don’t get yourself into more stuck – but you already are.” Hopefully my wife will be next [released] then.

It was our anniversary last week – last Sunday. Obviously we couldn’t plan anything because she was stuck in there. I went down to go see her last Sunday – I sent her a card by the way – £20 in it – she’s not received that. So, where’s that gone?

I gave her money to put on her thing. I don’t know if she’s got that or not. She said she’d check but I don’t think she’s got that so, you know … it’s just exploiting people for sake of what [missed].

We’re applying for bail. So she’s still on bail – they can’t deport her. That’s where we are now – to get her out so we can fight this together at home. You can’t fight anything at the moment I mean how do you step forward … emails, bank statements, pay slips, so you can [missed], but we can’t fight this together – we need to fight this under the same roof and take on the system. But no one seems to hear our voice.

I follow our local news station yesterday – my news – local news broadcast – and they’ve not returned her call. It’s despicable it is – people don’t want to hear your voice. It’s like you haven’t got one. It’s outrageous how they’re treating people – it really is. If any good can come out of this albeit – people need to hear their voice.

It’s Christmas in 4 weeks time – you know – [she’s] no sooner coming home then when she first went in. It’s ridiculous … we were supposed to go away for a few days – just to – you know – try and put some more … cause I work , full time, so it would just be nice to go away – just to – you know, forget about work, forget about everything else and just spend time with just the 2 of us – together – like how it should be. And not thinking about work, stress and all that. But they’ve detained her. So that’s, goodbye to that.

I love her very much. It’s heartbreaking it really is, how they can treat people and not hear their voice. We’ve been together 5 year – we got married last year as I say.

We wrote letters to MPs – I think he instigated all this to be honest because as soon as we see him – all this started. And he was saying “oh we can’t get involved it’s Home Office sort of thing” – sure, deep down after that, I’m sure he’s instigated all this.

Before all this started – anything about bail, her signing papers, going down every other Wednesday – then detaining her – there was none of this until we went to see him. They say they can’t get involved – “it’s down to Home Office” – it’s baloney to be honest. How they treat people – it’s disgusting – everyone has a voice which needs to be heared.

She is brave – she’s very brave – I fall apart many a time – I’ve fallen apart here – I’ve been on phone to her. She should be here. I’m not eating, I’m not sleeping hardly – I’m not hardly eating – just existing really – it’s just disgusting. I’m going to work tired and worn out – I’m not sleeping – not getting my full rest – it’s stressful – both parts. But yeah no one wants to hear your voice – it’s like you haven’t got a voice. That’s basically it.

When we got married we had to go down to show who we were – that took time cause she’s not from England – she’s from Nigeria – we got a letter saying that we can get married – there’ll be no crimes in getting married. Why would they allow to get someone married and doing all this – there’s no sense in that at all. They said there’ll be no checks – none of this – none of that. She came here through work as visiting person – on a visiting visa – then she met me. I mean, why can’t two people fall in love and be happy?

The Hunger Strike is still on

I applied to the Home Office on family route and I got a letter of refusal. My husband quickly scheduled an appointment to see our local MP. A meeting was scheduled for us to see him. After the meeting, the assistant sent a link to my husband’s email where to seek for financial aid to travel to my country.

We contacted another lawyer who submitted additional information to the Home Office. While we were waiting for response, a letter came in through our door, which states that the Secretary of State has granted me bail and I should start reporting to sign.

Due to the clauses in the bail letter my husband decided to write to the Home Secretary to plead for assistance. [We were] told that MPs are not allowed to deal with issues that are outside their constituency and she gave us the name of our MP and phone number but we feel there was no reason to see him because we have already gone to him.

Before we got married, our Registrar sent our information to the Home Office requesting if we can go ahead and get married. After 2 weeks we went to the registrar. Two letters, one for me and my husband was sent through the post to our door, saying that we can go ahead and get married. A copy of the marriage certificate was sent to the Home Office.

My husband has to change his shift at work so that he can follow me down whenever i am due to sign. I have only signed twice and the third time I was detained where a letter of refusal was printed out and given to me. l was detained from 1:30pm to 18:00pm and then taken to Manchester. I was then brought to the detention centre in Bedford. My husband is now frustrated and feeling depressed.

The treatment we are getting here is not right. On our anniversary my husband travelled to see me. While we were kissing they came to me saying that we are not allowed to kiss. My husband just started crying because we being treated as criminal and making life hell for us.

I am trying for baby and l have gone to acupuncture who recommended some herbs to be taken three times a day. But since l was brought here I do not have access to them any more. I have gone to health centre here twice. I was told by the doctors that they cannot give me anything since they are not prescriptions from my surgery. I have requested if my husband can bring them to me. I was told herbs medicine are not allowed into the premises. Those herbs has helped reduced my cramping and bloating tremendously. Because I do not have access to them right now, the cramp have returned making me to feel uncomfortable, painful right down my abdomen and bloating continuously.

There was a chartered flight but people were able to come together to resist their harassment and frustration.

The hunger strike is still on. It started on Sunday and the food we were given was horrible. When some of us eat it, they will start to have stomach ache and vomiting.

They are taking all of our rights from us

I just want to thank you people outside there – everyone of you for your support because you really, really, really support us. And we’ve seen a lot of changes in Yarls Wood for the past 3 days. You know like yesterday and today there were a lot of releases – they released a lot of people which I think is a good improvement.

What I want to add to it is – I just want this place to shut down. The plane – the charter flights. I want it to stop.

Stop taking people because there are some people – last Tuesday – the people they deported – there was one lady there – that girl came here to study and after that, she got an injunction – Judicial Review – before they deport this lady. And with that, they still deport her.

So I want people to help us. I’m appealing to everybody – the journalists – the MPs – everyone out there. So please, help us.

We are not criminals. We do our papers when we are at our house. We are not seeking for any benefits – we are not doing anything wrong – we are not criminals – we are woman-beings. But here they don’t treat us like woman-beings at all.

They are taking all of our rights from us. No human rights at all – at all.

When we were doing this hunger strike – because they know that they [think I’m a] leader – you know – I talk to people – I encourage them about this protest. And now they are following me everywhere. I went to the IT room, I can’t talk to people in the IT room. Everything like that – anywhere I go – you’ll see officers following me. They came to my room yesterday – they searching through my luggage – they are searching – I don’t know what they are searching for. They go through all my luggage – everything. They know everything we are doing.

How can I go back?

So I’m from _______ and I have four children. I’m divorced with my husband. After my divorce I didn’t go to my mother’s place – my family’s place. They are all Hindus and I converted to Christianity and my family was very strict about this. I can’t stay with my husband – after 13 years I could not stay with him as my life was not going well with him. So my mother was very angry with me that I left my husband, but for me it was good because it was like leaving a life with depression and every day and every time it was not good.

So on my own I rented a house. I have two sons and two daughters and I rented a house and I started to work so that I can support my children. But life was very tough for me because I had to pay my rent. I was paying 7000 per month rent and I need to earn 1500-2000 more per month so I can pay my bills, so it was very tough for me.

I need to work day and night so that I can pay my bills and everything. Sometimes we don’t have anything to eat if I’m not working, so I don’t have food. It goes on like this for 2 years and I am just thinking how I will sort out all these problems. If I get a house for me it will be more easy for me.

So by that time I was just thinking how to sort out my problem. There wasn’t anyone supporting me, even my family, no one. So I got facebook friends and I had a facebook friend in England. I explained and talk to him about my situation and everything. So he told me he needs someone to work at his place like nanny and in his house and everything. So I accepted to come here to work for him for 200 pounds a month. So I told him to buy my ticket. He said you buy your ticket and I will give you work for a lifetime. In my country I sold every stuff in my house so I can buy my ticket and I can have pocket money to come here.

So when I got to the airport, when I called him, he wanted to have a sexual relationship with me. At that time I was very confused because I left my children and my country, and I am a Christian and that way was not my way.

So I was just thinking what to do now, I have been so far, I travelled twelve hours from my country to the UK, so I could not come back. I was at the airport, the guy was coming and I was thinking what is he going to do with me. I was not sure if he will take me to his house or somewhere else.

I’ve got a friend in Ireland, so I called this friend and told him about my situation. He told me you come to Belfast, I’m going to meet you there and we will sort out this problem. How we are going to find a solution for you. So I take a ticket from Heathrow to Belfast, and I was travelling to Belfast, and at Belfast airport they catch me there.

They were just asking me a lot of questions but I was still in the UK border. I was at George Best airport and they began to ask me a lot of questions and I didn’t understand. And they thought that I’m travelling to Dublin and they just take me to the detention centre. 2 months I’m here but I was in Ireland detention for 4 days.


But the guy who was in London who bring me here he called me on the phone in the detention. And when I was on the phone to him I said set me free. He said no, you broke my trust you can’t be staying out here, even though he knows I have already sold everything in my country.

He threatened me to get me and my children killed in my country, even if I go back. He said he had men in ________ and they will come for your children. The officer called him to talk about him, and he told the officer, she is my cousin, I invited her for two weeks, I don’t know what she was doing in Ireland. Send her back to _________ so she can never come here. So then I told him, I haven’t told anyone for what purpose you bring me here, but I need to talk now so I can get help. So there was a lawyer that came here and I give all. I told the lawyer everything and they brought me again to London. I was in Colnbrook and then they took me to Yarl’s Wood.

So I claim for asylum here and still I have done my interview, I am just waiting. Now if I return back to my country I have nothing. I can’t return back to my mother because she is a Hindu so they don’t accept my religion. It will be very difficult for me. Yeah, so that is my case.

I don’t know what will happen. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know anyone here who can give me an address. My solicitor told me if you get me an address I can get you released from here but it’s my first travelling. Even in my country I wasn’t detained, but now I’m just homesick because I just left my children. I’m so, so depressed, I can’t even eat. 2 months I haven’t seen the face of my children, I talk with them on the phone but I can’t see them.

Immigration told me that there was no trafficking. But the man he brought me here he promised me work he promised me everything. And now even if I go back to my country my children’s life will be in danger. How can I go back? Even if they don’t do me anything if I lose one of my children I will feel guilty for that.

Our mind does not go well here. Even I just forget the way to the shop, the way to the library. I am going mental. We are so depressed, I can’t sleep at night. Can’t sleep, can’t eat, anything. If we was outside like a hostel or something like this, ok, but here we are in jail. It’s a proper jail here.

We had no option but to organise a protest

Locked up in Campsfield

I really find it hard to talk about my horrible experience of detention because every time I talk about it, it just brings back the sad, horrible, inhuman memory that I just don’t want to remember.

I encountered the immigration [authorities] just over 10 years now. I was here working, paying my tax, making my national insurance contribution. I was accused of working without the right to work. This is after many years of me working and contributing to the economy of this country. I was accused of not obtaining pecuniary advantage – I don’t know what that means.

I was detained at an immigration centre and I was told that my removal from the UK is imminent. I had to go through the courts to challenge such intentions, appealing against such intentions. While this was going on I applied for bail – I didn’t get no bail – a month passed – 2 months passed – one year passed. It was nearly 2 years I was still in detention.

I had to kick-off because at the time I was in one of these detention [centres] – you know I was really frustrated for me – for other detainees. A lot of them attempted suicide. Most of them were suicidal, depressed. Imagine you’ve been in detention, you can’t get proper medical treatment. I was very ill at the time and even though the doctor within the detention centre recommend me being taken to the hospital, they said to me that they going to get me to the hospital – but that it would be in handcuffs – I said “no, I’m not a criminal – I can’t go the hospital in handcuffs”.

It just went on for several weeks and my health was deteriorating. You don’t get proper food to eat. You’re locked up for nearly 24 hours of the day, maybe if you’re lucky you get an hour of going to the exercise area to just walk around – If you’re lucky. But majority of the time you’re locked up for nearly 24 hours of the day.

They open your door – to go get food. The food is . . . if I was to feed my dog or animal I would provide better food than what you get in detention centres.

You may wish to know that these rooms – they’re tiny rooms – you have a toilet within the room – in some cases there’ll be a separate toilet. You have unrelated adults sharing a little room. Some have actually within it – where you’re eating . . . your room mate or cellmate can also use the toilet whilst you’re eating – that tells you how bad it was.

It was just . . . it was so, so frustrating, to the point that a lot of people I know attempted suicide. A lot of people when they kick-off in the detention centres, the heavy-handedness of these people who we describe as prison warders who say they’re security guards – people are just being . . . they beat them up – a lot of them will be bleeding all over their body.

After that they will be kept in solitary confinement – which is more like a cell – you’ll just be by yourself – you sleep there, you eat within the cell. I’ve experience it as well. Whilst I was in detention I was provided with a bed – it was a metal bed without a mattress. When I tried to complain about it I received terrible beatings. I was kept in isolation for over a week.

It’s just . . . I can’t even go into some details which will just make me cry.

Detention centres are a horrible place to be. The Home Offices’ excuse for doing that is that they won’t let them stay in the UK, even when we have family here. I have my kid here. And I have a partner for this length of time I was in detention – nearly 2 years. I didn’t get to see my child because every time I applied for bail the Home Office will go and argue that my removal from the UK is imminent.

Resistance in Campsfield

Eventually, at a point I was so frustrated, we arranged a protest within one of the detention centres. The protest was successful. It really made the sort of impact we wanted it to make. Firstly, before we organised a protest we came together and wrote a letter to the Home Office, querying them for the indefinite detention of most of us there. We wanted to know why we were kept indefinitely in a detention centre. It fell on deaf ears.

We had no option but to organise a protest. Part of the protest was that when we were let out of our rooms, which were more like cells, for exercise, we were going to refuse going back into the room. And that was what happened. So when it was time for us to be locked up – we refused to go back to the rooms.

The protest was successful – we refused to go back in. People kicked-off. Kicking gates, forcing the gate down. Some people were able to escape. But I didn’t escape, because I wanted to see the matter relating to this whole thing being concluded. The Detention Manager asked riot police to come in – the riot police came in and rounded us up. I was among the people that were picked up and shipped to a prison.

When I got there I asked why I was being brought to a prison. They said to me that I was the ringleader of the protest. I said “I need to go to court because I’ve not been charged with anything – I can’t understand why I’m in prison”. I shouldn’t go into any more detail about this but I would like to mention that when I kicked-off at the prison I was taken to the isolation unit when I was kept again for a couple of weeks. My health started deteriorating again.

There was some organisation called … I don’t quite remember the name but their job relates to the independent monitoring board who were visiting the prison – I think they heard about my detention so they came to see me and I told them what was happening. They helped me to get a solicitor who applied for bail for me.

Eventually I go to court. When I got to court the Home Office actually made up some story that I was a ringleader of the protest, that I escaped and that I was re-arrested. As luck would have it we had a judge in the court – the judge asked the Home Office, after saying my side of the story that I’d never escaped but I was part of a protest against the inhumane treatment of the detainees by the Home Office, and the Judge listened to what I had to stay and listened to what my legal rep had to say and then asked the Home Office some questions, [the judge] said: “This man – you said he escaped – if he had escaped then where was he re-arrested and what police station was he taken to?”

In fact the judge knew that the Home Office made it up. I never escaped. Some people escaped but I never escaped. I was within the premises of the detention centre when the riot police arrived. So eventually, to cut a long story short, I got bail, and since I’ve been out of detention. I now have Leave to Remain.

Resistance inside detention centres sometimes is never allowed to come to the public light because it is subdued. When you’re in there – you have no right to freedom of expression. You have no right to express your pain, your grievances, because each time you try to do it, you’re faced with heavy handedness – you’re picked up – you’re bent over, you’re beaten – you’re left with injuries that people on the outside never know, because you will not be allowed to be taken to the public hospital and be seen by an independent doctor.

So the whole thing is being suppressed within the detention centre. When you’re in such a situation, you can’t get a visitor. People are not allowed to visit you because they give reasons why people on the outside cannot see you. Before you can have a visit, them injuries have to heal up, you’ll be in a better condition to be visited. Even some of the visiting groups that come from the outside – I heard of a visiting group in Campsfield that were banned from coming in to the visiting centre – banned from visiting detainees because they relayed the horrible experiences of detainees to people on the outside. The only visiting groups allowed into the detention centre are such that will not expose the secretive brutality, torture of the staff of the detention centres. So it’s difficult to say how the campaigners outside can work with the detainees in their resistance.

Resistance Outside Detention

I know what detention is like. I know the suffering, the pain of the people. Since I’ve been out of detention I’ve been working with groups campaigning against detention and supporting people in detention.

I know that when I was behind the huge fences which are like prisons, I knew that there were people out there that were campaigning. I got a lot of support from people outside. It’s such a relief when you’re incarcerated in an immigration detention centre to know that there are people out there who are not part of the torture, part of the oppression, part of the ordeal that you’re going through.

It’s such a relief. Because when I was in there I could hear people protesting outside, asking that Campsfield be closed down. These people I didn’t even know them – they don’t even know some of us. These people are English people. It was such a relief – each day, such a demonstration or protest takes place – I get that relief from knowing that – hang on – these guys are not all the same. There are people out there who look at things differently – who think humans should be treated as human beings – not worse than animals.

That’s why since I came out of detention I’ve been actively involved in campaign groups that have been campaigning over the years to see the end of this brutality. To see an end to this barbaric practice of incarcerating human beings, of depriving humans of their right to existence, right to family life, right to private life, right to live, you know? So it’s such a privilege for me to be part of these campaign groups.

Violence of Deportations

I’m aware of how the Home Office over the years has introduced charter flights which they use to secretly remove people who have been here for years. People who have established family life here. People who have worked and contributed to this country. They’re simply being treated like animals or worse than animals. There’s been a lot of cases of people being forcefully removed from the UK by charter flight where most of them are taken to countries they’ve never been for decades, a country they don’t even know, separated from their community, their families here, from their friends, from their private life.

They are being further punished for being sent to a country that they’re not from as if it’s their fault – whereas it’s the fault of the Home Office. So, things the Home Office can achieve with a charter flight is 1): They can do whatever they like to the people they’re trying to forcefully remove from the UK without anyone ever knowing about it. And 2) Charter flight can be sent to a destination that the government, or some people in the government in such country, agree to be used as a dumping ground for immigrants. Such immigrants can never ever find their way back to any where in the world.

And such people – a lot of them are taken to a country where they’re being killed. Some that are lucky not to be killed are kept in prison for life because the Home Office tell the country to which they are taken to that these guys are criminals. As soon as they arrive in such countries they are kept in prison as criminals again without a charge – just because the Home Office tells them that they are criminals.

A lot of them are languishing in detention centres – some are dead in prisons without their family here even able to track them down to know their whereabouts. Some of the families are thinking that they’re still alive. I’ve heard of cases of people who, as soon as they’ve been taken to their perceived country of origin – they are just eliminated – they’re killed – just because such countries are made to believe that they’re criminals.

Coming to the UK for refuge. Coming to the UK for good reasons is not a crime. But amazingly some immigrants have been seen as committing crimes for being in the UK. Some are described as illegal immigrants. There are different phrases that they use to describe them. Some are described as being here with no right to be here. At the end of the day we just have to look at these things and try to understand it better from the detainees perspective.

Disappointingly, most of the public don’t even know what is happening. They are being brainwashed by the Home Office who tell them that these people are bad, that they’re the cause of the problem, whereas they’re actually part of the solution to the problem. I’m sure if the public actually know the truth of this whole thing they will be more sympathetic with detainees, sympathetic with the people who are going through this inhumane, brutal and barbaric immigration-Home Office handling of lives.

It is really sad to be talking about this whole thing. It is sad for me to see it here right now, knowing full well that there are young men and women, even pregnant women, vulnerable people, with various health issues, languishing in detention centres.

It’s unimaginable what these people are going through and having to recall my experience – it just spoils my day and makes me feel really, really sad. Also being aware of how people are killed when the Home Office immigration try to forcefully, brutally remove them from the UK.

Jimmy Mubenga

The case of Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan man, who was murdered, in the course of the Home Office forcefully trying to remove him from the UK. In his case, the murder came to light because the flight used at the time wasn’t a charter flight – it was a flight that had some passengers in it. I’m sure that’s the only way we knew about what happened to Jimmy Mubenga – otherwise we would never have known.

So flights that are chartered – that are solely used for the removal of detainees – and no passengers travel on such flights – you can imagine what would happen on such flights. These guys who get away with murder – if there were witnesses when they killed Jimmy Mubenga – you can imagine what would happen on flights currently being used that are not normal flights – not passenger flights – the passengers who travel on it are detainees. So if they got killed, no one would ever know about it. This whole system has a way of covering up most of these things.

When Jimmy Mubenga was murdered, my understanding was that the security guards were actually contractors to the Home Office and that they are called G4S. But you’ll not believe that nobody was ever convicted of the murder. Basically they are above the law. So they got away with murder. You may also wish to know that the same contractors to the Home Office were never stripped of their license to obtain contract. In fact they are even more popular than ever before – demonstrating that they are able to forcefully, brutally remove immigrants from the UK by any means even if it means murdering them. They’re getting more contracts. You go to hospitals – they’re there. You go to courts – they’re there. You go to various government establishments – they’re there. So, if a civilian, an ordinary person in society commits murder, they are sent to prison for life.

So we can see the double standard that we’re talking about: Immigrants are not seen as human beings – they’re only seen as numbers – they’re numbers as far as the Home Office is concerned – they are not human. That’s why you find the Home Office are working on targets to achieve a specific number of people they remove from the UK irrespective of why they are in the UK and what they are doing in the UK. It doesn’t matter to them – as long as they are able to achieve a target.

If the Home Secretary tells them we need 2,000 removed from the UK by 2018, it just basically means they have to go round raiding as much people as they want – as long as they are black – as long as they are Asian. It doesn’t matter to them whether their human right is being breached – it’s all about numbers. It’s not about lives at all. They don’t give a damn about life. The life of immigrants’ is no life. It’s not seen as life.

It’s sad that I have to sit here talking about these things. I wish there could be more people who share in my passion for seeing this oppression – for seeing this barbaric practise come to an end.

Voluntary Returns”

Voluntary Returns” is a shambles. It’s a very deceptive way of getting people out of this country against their will. As far as I’m concerned there’s no such thing as “Voluntary Returns” for immigrants. It’s a systematic, subtle removal of people against their will from this country.

It’s very deceptive. To ask someone to agree to go to a country where they don’t belong, with a promise of giving them so much money, and assuring them of protection in a country they’ll be sent to, if only they agree to go to that country – it’s one of the greatest deceptions. Basically you are told: “If you agree to go to this country, we’ll give you a lump sum of money so you can start your life in that country – though you flee persecution, torture, you fear for your life in your country of origin. But we can change your life by giving you a lump sum of money to start a life in another country that you’ve never been, that you don’t belong – all this false hope – and all this deception – it’s another subtle way of forcing people out of this country.

The word “voluntary” is deceptive. This is what I know. It isn’t a free choice … most immigrants are victims of torture. Most immigrants are in the UK experiencing the same torture. And some are killed. Being given the hope that there’s a country out there waiting to accept them, to give them protection – and that here they are being denied protection, denied a right of existence in the UK – and there’ve been given a lump sum of money to start a life somewhere, and that they won’t face any torture. Such people will naively accept such an offer because they just need a place free of the torture. A lot of them are in the UK being tortured.

[The Home Office] never leave you alone. We are pretty much aware of the current “Hostile Environment”. These people cannot access medical care. They cannot access education. They cannot access jobs. Even most of them cannot participate in activities that will relieve them of the stress. A lot of them have issues . . . I have issues with mental health. They’ve got no choice.

In Turkey they have a place for refugees. People are there because some European countries have decided that they should be there as refugees rather than be allowed to go to the country of their choice to seek refuge. So it’s not a choice – that’s what “voluntary return” is – it’s not a choice. It’s allowing the powers that be to decide where you’re going to be the next day. People languishing in detention centres today – it’s not a choice – they have no option. That’s how I look at “voluntary returns“ – that’s the truth about “voluntary returns”.

I don’t think any true “campaigner” will subscribe to collaborate with the Home Office for “Voluntary Return”. Most of the people doing the “voluntary return” scheme are doing it to earn a living. They’re not a campaign group – they’re being paid to facilitate “Voluntary Returns” – a lot of them earn a living from it. A lot of them do it because they are not true campaigners that share in the passion of the work of campaigners. They are people who actually share in the torture and oppression of the Home Office. They are more like Home Office personnel in disguise. They disguise themselves as campaigners, they have a hidden agenda, they’re part of the Home Office system, so it’s all deception.