Hello from Yarl’s Wood
Mixed feelings about today,
It’s good that the ladies feel like they have achieved something and I do too in a way.
The Home Office officials refused to talk to us as a group but we stood our ground. The directors strong armed them into it and they did eventually talk to us, although they did not really say anything worth listening to. Just things like our detention is lawful (doesn’t feel like it) and they don’t detain asylum seekers and torture victims, but I can tell you this place would be more or less empty without them. We demanded to know how they can justify detaining people indefinitely and they said each case is different and judged individually, so when I said that there isn’t a pattern and it seems like a universal response from the home office they claimed that we would see a pattern because they have grounds to detain us. But let me tell you there is no pattern in the circumstances of detainees, only the reasons given by the home office.
They refused to state that rape is torture and said “no comment” on that matter. It can be summed up as talking to a brick wall like every other occasion I’ve had to speak with an immigration officer.
Then she passed a piece a paper around and insisted we write our names on it so “they could reply in writing to our demands”.
But we all know this was a scare tactic to make people apprehensive and worry about their individual cases. I was so touched when not only everyone who had sat there wrote their names but the ladies prevented from coming where we were [the home office department] and sat in the corridor instead, insisted on writing their names.
I feel pressure to help the ladies which I put on myself, even before this protest I felt the same when I see people struggle with their paperwork or even when they don’t know where to go for something or just when I see someone crying I stop and ask if they are ok. Some people are in such a bad way and they react badly but that’s ok because the way I see it I might have been the only person to speak to them that day, and I know they just miss their families or they have serious psychological issues, I feel sorry for people.
A manager told me last week that I should concentrate on my case and be more selfish as I might feel better if I stop taking on people’s problems. He might have a point but I can’t help but have empathy and maybe that’s why I could never do a job like his. I empathise with people regardless of the colour of their skin, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and political beliefs. To me people are people, and we all want the same things on a human level. We want to feel safe, we want to love and be loved, and we want to feel accepted.
I’m getting emotional now and not sure what I’m writing about anymore I think the lack of caffeine and food is having an effect on my ability to concentrate, god knows I’ll be talking absolute gibberish tomorrow x x x
Thank you all for your support we appreciate it x x 👍👍😊😊👣
Hungry foreigner Made in Britain
There are currently 18 people staging a peaceful cit in protest outside the home office department in Yarl’s Wood, some have been prevented from the sit in by a prison lock down.
A Home Office official just walked past us and asked if we are having a party, the home office workers know we are on a hunger strike but they keep walking past with their lunches.
The Home Office must talk to us as a group, we wont be divided.
More people are joining the sit in throughout the centre, including 14 men from the family wing of the prison.
We are still in the legal department.
They asked if there was anything we can do for you. And we kept quiet. They asked whether we would want to see the home office. They said that we can make you an appointment to see you one by one.
And we said we don’t want to be seen like that. We want you to meet all of us, as a group with one representative to talk. They went away and said they would get back to us.
We will remain here until the end of the day.
After an initial 3 day hunger strike where the Home Office refused to acknowledge the hunger strike, it is clear that they are not listening to us. On Monday 26/02/18, we will cease to participate in detention, we will not eat, use their facilities or work for them.
The detainees are thus staging an all out strike to protest the Home Office’s continued immoral practices. Our demands are for a fair system and an end to the hostile environment policy towards people with legitimate reasons to remain in the U.K.
- 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.
I want to stress that there are as many demands as there are detainees, everyone in detention is unfairly treated, and all we want is a fair process.
This is the only option we are left with to express how we feel. We will not eat till we are free.
We all have one thing in common, that the Home Office is refusing everything. You give information they refuse it, you put in a judicial review they refuse it, you give them application and before you know if it’s refused and they give you ticket for deportation. They really didn’t have time to read it and consider the application. People are being deported back to counties where they have fled, from Afghanistan, from Pakistan wherever they have come from and are being sent back there. LGBT people it’s so hard when you don’t want people to know about your sexuality. You are cornered in a box and you can’t come out and be free.
For the fear, that you run away from in your country, is the same fear you face in the UK. It’s really biased, and for some ladies they have been in detention for over a year. The problem is not even one months, two months, it’s the uncertainty of tomorrow. You don’t know what tomorrow holds or what is going to happen to you.
Before you know it they are rounding people up in the middle of the night, at 11 at midnight, at two o’clock in the morning and the next day you don’t see them. They lock them up in offices and then you find out they are deported. Someone had an appeal coming up in a few months but she was deported. This is not okay. A lot of people cannot speak English so how can they understand their cases.
Even in healthcare, these people aren’t listened to because they can’t explain their ailment, they nurse says come back with someone who can interpret. The healthcare itself needs a whole reshuffle, we need trained nurses and doctors. You can’t tell me this person is going to know if I’m ill, when that person is in the library, in the shop and also in the healthcare centre. They prescribe paracetamol so the doctor can see you are taking medication and then maybe he will prescribe you what you need. All I get is paracetamol and ibuprofen, and then if I take that every day the doctor can see I’m not well and then he will give me the medication I need. They need to see you bleeding. Some of us are mothers, we need to be taken care of.
It’s just too much, some of us were born here but because their parents didn’t do the right paperwork, they’re in detention and It’s not their fault. They cannot go back to a country they’ve never been to. Some people have been here since they were 8 and now they’re in detention, they’ve been here as long as they remember, they don’t have travel documents so they can’t go back. To be deported to places you don’t have any memory of.
There are women here who are old, between 50 to 69, why do these women need to be deported? How much taxes are you going to spend detaining and deporting an old woman.
The home office needs to listen, be realistic and say, ok this woman came here when they were really young, how can they go home. Imagine if it was their daughter, who had been living her for 15 years, would they send them back to a country.
It’s really about the home office not listening. They have the articles about LGBT people being killed in these counties, and they still don’t believe that it is dangerous.
One of them has to be washed and dressed by a fellow detainee, she’s been here for months. She has British citizenship, she did something and now they want to deport her.
Where is the compassion, where is the forgiveness?
Why do they continue to punish people for something they did, when they serve time in prison and repent. They should be forgiven. These people have lived tough lives, victims of torture, of rape, hard lives. When you sit down and hear their stories, how can you send them back to places they’ve never been.
To really get to a place where someone can help you, you have to get to a mental health personnel, and even then they say, oh you are only saying that so you can stay in this country.
When you have a migraine, a stomach ache, the doctor says how can this be, you are just saying it.
It has been ok, they are waiting to see if we do anything violent, but there will be no violence, no abuse, we just want to be silent, calm and respectful. There are police in there, and they are just watching people and watching people. Their eyes are on us. But we believe our voices are going to be heard. We’re going to continue until something is done, until we feel like
They are underestimating our hunger strike. They think we all went to the shop before the strike and that we are eating. And they tell one visitor today that they believe we are eating in our rooms. They don’t believe us, they think we are joking.
It’s just very sad, they are going into people’s rooms doing random searches. Search your knickers, pull off your underwear and inspecting every corner of it. You think why are you touching my underwear for crying out loud. When you ask they say it’s one of those random checks.
You can’t even trust the people who are looking after you. They say if you need anything come to us, but they can’t explain to us the things they do so how can we trust them. They searched two of the women who are striking.
I just pray the something changes, and that our energy shall not go to waste. Something really needs to be done. Sooner or later people are so depressed, they start cutting themselves, they are getting suicidal, this is not okay. And then when the officers know about this they start checking on you every hour.
They should be asking why are these women, who have children and families, want to take their own lives.
Separation from our children is killing us, I haven’t spoken to my daughter in 5 months. She’s going to make 5 in May, she’s probably moved on, she must think who is this mother I don’t remember. My friends printed out pictures and send them to me. I can’t even print one picture of my child, they say you have to print educational, legal, I can’t even print one picture of my loved ones.
I pray and I hope and I have the faith. Until I see her and I see her and I say hey, don’t call someone else mummy!
I was going to teach a new song in choir, so I go to photocopy the words. One officer he asked what are you photocopying, no one has ever asked me before, what I am photocopying, nobody cares. He says is that for the thing you’re doing, all those demands and stuff. I said I don’t know what you’re talking about. It was just the words for a song.
We are keeping on strong, it’s hard but we have to be strong. We are fighting for the voiceless. I wouldn’t want anyone else to experience this, even my worst enemy.
We pray in this strike that we are accompanied by prayer, hear our cries and make a change for us.
I feel very isolated in here (Yarl’s Wood). It’s not like just a lonely feeling. It’s a different kind of isolation. I feel like I have already been removed to a place with different laws, removed from my friends and family, removed from society, so far removed from every comfort.
I find myself missing silly things like animals. I want to play with my dog. I have not seen a child in so long, do little people exist anymore?
I miss watching football with a cold Peroni. I wonder what happened in Game of Thrones? silly things really.
I am busy in here though, because English is my first language people always ask me to read documents for them and I want to help as best I can of course I do but it does take it’s toll on me. A lady was given a ticket yesterday and she was so distressed, it could have been avoided had she been provided with the help she needed as she does not read English.
I have to go now as I just received a text to go to reception. Every time I get a text message, I have a mini panic attack. Everyone does, and it’s doing my head right in.
Bye for now
From an angry foreigner who was made in Britain
I am involved in the hunger strike because I think we face very unfair conditions in that we are detained for an indefinite amount time. The uncertainty that we face everyday is unbearable which leads us to have stress, panic, and in turn a lot of health complication. This is the reason why we decided to go forward collectively with this hunger strike. Even though many of us have health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes we have nevertheless persisted to continue the hunger strike because we want the public to know what we face and make sure there is a change in policy.
We have been detained without notice. Young girls after having turned 18 are sent into detention centres. People who hold short term visas are sometimes sent straight from the airport to the detention centres. Many of us have our cases which are running but the Home Office still sends us tickets to go back home which gives us a lot of stress. Today, 3 girls were given tickets to go back to India. One of them is due to leave on Monday. Her case is running and yet she is given a ticket. What can she do— she only has 2 more days. Even when we try to pave our own path by asking for bail or temporary release we are always refused. They just do not allow us to do make our own attempts through legal paths— they are always impeding. They do not allow is to get work permits outside but make us work for £1 an hour or £3 for a day. It’s very unfair.
Today when Diane Abott came to visit us, we gave her a list of demands on behalf of the women of YW. She looked at them and told us she would make sure that something would happen. She told us that she would take this to the Parliament and make sure that the detention is reduced to 28 days and no longer be indefinite. We have hope but we will still continue with the hunger strike so that something will definitely be done.
We were all really depressed in here, thats why we had to do something. Even though the women are on hunger strike they have life. We needed to take back some control and our voices. If people are out there fighting for us we have to fight for ourselves.
Hello again from Yarl’s Wood
We got to see Diane Abbott today, although they told her that she couldn’t speak to individual people we had a feeling they would try to show her the “nice bits” and so we waited, for our opportunity. I could not accept that I would be prevented from speaking to an elected official, the last time I checked I was still in Britain and not Guantanamo (or am I?)
In my mind I knew what I wanted to say, the points I wanted to get across, so I was very annoyed with myself when she asked me personal questions about my individual case and I got emotional and started crying.
After I got myself together I followed her to the gym and I stood there as I watched all the women sat all around her and her assistants/political advisors telling her about their individual cases, how long they have been here and so on and I stood there just looking at the desperation, it was like their lives depended on this woman and I felt sad.
But still it was good that she came, anything that raises is our spirits is welcome. It made the enviroment slightly less hostile for a short time and gave an opressed people hope.
I wish I could hope.
Thank you for giving me a voice,
From an angry foreigner made in Britain