Teresa Anyiet, the Chair of Dotbaii Women’s Association, highlighted the links between the struggle of women in South Sudan and the women in Yarl’s Wood. She made clear that the hunger strikers’ fight was their fight, and the fight of all women who are at risk of being displaced and who may need to access their rights to leave their country and enter another one in the future.
“We women of South Sudan live in a world of violence and we are often vulnerable and displaced. We are like the women of Yarl’s Wood and they are like us. Maybe we even have our own people there, because many people have been displaced from here. If we come out of our world of violence, and we go to the UK, will we remain in the same situation?
“We had hoped that the UK would be part of the solution for Abyei, but if you violate the rights of other women, how can you come and solve other people’s issues? The UK brought [the discourse of] human rights to South Sudan, so why did they cancel the rights of human beings in their own country? UK government: you must release these women, and if they want to remain in the UK and be a part of you, you must accept them as citizens.
“I say to the women: we women all over South Sudan are standing with you. If anything happens to you, we are going to claim your rights. Don’t surrender, and we will not give up here either. Continue even if you are pressured and fear death. Continue your fight. We call on the UK to release you. We pray to God for you and we pray that God will cause the UK’s leaders to repent.”
Afaf Arop, Chair of Abyei Women’s Union, encouraged the hunger strikers to continue their fight, saying:
“We women face abuse all over the world but we don’t accept this, we don’t forget that we have rights and we don’t surrender. I want you women of Yarl’s Wood to know we are standing with you with all our emphasis and feeling. Since you have rights you need to fight peacefully as you are doing. Women’s rights are never given. You have to take them.”