I am involved in the hunger strike

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.

She managed to see us. Diane Abbott the shadow home secretary was here this morning.

She managed to see us. Diane Abbott the shadow home secretary was here this morning with her entourage. One of them was Shami Chakrabarti, the human rights lawyer.

We, as a group of people who are detained here and are on hunger strike, we wanted to show the management here that we wanted to see her. In case they wanted to stop us, we went down to the reception corridor. We wanted to stop them showing her the better places and stopping our grievances being heard.

I was the first person to say what was happening about me because I was at the front of the group.

We had to go into the sports hall because there was no space where we were. The poor woman had a chance to talk to us all, one by one to hear our stories. She had, to sit down and listen to our grievances of most us, even though she didn’t have enough time for everyone. Even though she was there for 15 minutes, she managed to hear each and every one’s story. Which is what we want- we want people to hear our cry.

We were really crying to her. Even herself she was emotional as well to see us in that state. If you see someone crying if makes you emotional too. Because so many people wanted to talk to her about their experience here. When we saw her, we had all wanted to see her. She was Someone we had always wanted to see.

Her secretary was saying that there was not enough time to hear from everyone and she said we should write our stories and concerns, put it in an envelope or send it through emails. So far, we are happy that at least there are a lot of people are supporting us.

Oh my god, there were people who were crying. People who were detained for 10 months 12 months 14 months. We spoke about how we are not allowed to work outside. But when we came here they want to employ us for £1 per hour for 3 hours in a day. She heard us. If that they can employ us here, why can’t they let us work out there and contribute to the country? Especially those who have lived here for so long.

What we want is for her to go to talk to those people who are in power. To take action and deal with our situation here.

We are women, we have a life. We need to work. Our children came to the UK when they when they were young and now they are being detained. Everything here is depressing.

I want to say to Diane Abbott that we have been waiting for that moment. That she was indeed a shoulder, the only shoulder we have, to cry on. They should act on all the demands we have made. They are all critical. And, please, even if they will not meet all of our concerns, make sure the young people and people who have no lives elsewhere are not detained. The young people are the future of Britain, why do they want to detain them?

They should never call us illegal immigrants – we are undocumented migrants – I can’t wait for it to end, my daughter can’t wait.

Last night a lot of us on the wing we watched question time. There was this lady, Ash Sarkar, who said ‘why do you detain women who are pregnant and vulnerable women and women with health issues and refugees who have cases that have still pending and have rights of appeal in Yarl’s Wood’. And the man, who was part of the government said, they don’t detain such people as asylum seekers. That is a bloody lie. That was a lie from the pit of hell. How can you say that you only detain illegal immigrants who you are about to deport, but then you release them and then you redetain them over again and cause trauma to them for obeying your rules to go and report?

When I saw that, I felt that something is happening out there. And maybe certain action might be taken concerning our grievances and our cry.

[Statements from #HungerForFreedom strikers]

“The mental health nurses treat appointments like extensions of the immigration interview.

And healthcare do not take matters seriously, they just tell you you’re OK… if you’re sick and there’s blood you have to bring proof of it before they’ll see you.

“The mental health department should stop working for the Home Office – people are being asked if they came here knowing if they were going to stay.”


“Home Office officials take matters into their own hands.”


“The diet in detention is awful – most of us are on Omoprozole [a medicine used to prevent stomach ulcers and stomach acid] and iron tablets; we weren’t on those when we came in here. There are tablets to counteract tablets to counteract tablets.”


“Rule 35 – the doctors do not give the detainees ample time to discuss what kind of torture they went through – what happened, when and how it’s impacting on them. They just measure physical scars, and behind those scars, there’s a story. They’re quick to refer you to a mental health and wellbeing specialist, but they ignore their own rules.”


“We need respect from officers, they can’t just barge into people’s room and do random searches.”

They called her, she went to the unit office and then they locked her inside.

[Statement made just after midnight Friday 23rd February 2018]

They called her, she went to the unit office and then they locked her inside. When they locked her inside, that’s how they took her. That’s how they do it, they wait until it’s the middle of the night when no-one’s around, and then they take you.

We heard screams and everyone came out. We were seeing her screaming, screaming, screaming, and an officer was standing in front of the door. Eventually, they took some white paper to cover the window in the door. Whilst she was in there she had a panic attack, she couldn’t breathe. They called the nurses and other officers, it was an emergency. The officer was telling her ‘RELAX, TRY TO BREATHE, TRY TO BREATHE!’

One of the detainees could see her on the floor and started saying ‘SHE’S DYING, SHE’S DYING!’ The nurses came and tried to chase us back to our rooms. She was still in the room and officers were still there, and tried to chase us back to our rooms. We didn’t go, we stayed there.

She had first aid and they put her in a wheelchair. One of us asked them where they are taking her; they said ‘we’re taking her for further treatment.’ We told them ‘you can’t deport her, she’s sick.’ They said they won’t, they’re going to take her to hospital. Now we haven’t seen her and we don’t know where she is. We’ll find out tomorrow if they deported her.

The protest is about their system of indefinite detention.

The protest is about their system of indefinite detention.

Inside Yarls Wood, people are on hunger strike – they won’t go to the dining room to eat for 3 days.

They detain people who have appeal rights, who are reporting every month. Why would they detaine people who comply with their rules to go and sign? Especially those who have been in the UK for more than 15 years. And without any notice – not even to your solicitor!

They detain people who came to this country as minors and who are culturally British. They wait until they are 18 and then they are detained. This is due to their parent’s or the lawyer’s failure to do their correct paper work. It’s also due to the Home office delaying things too. The sad thing is, they detain these young people. They don’t even know anything about the country where they are born. Why do they detain them? You keep them here for more than a month, that’s torture enough. And then when they get deported many commit suicide because they are not accepted in any community and they don’t know anyone there. They’ve grown up here, they’ve established their lives here. And then you threaten to deport them to where they are born. What do they know about that country you are taking them to?

[shouting in background] Can you hear how people are angry?

They will tell you that they have proper medical facilities. But you will wait for a month to see a doctor. One instance I have seen is when a wife was having panic attacks because the husband was coughing and throwing up blood. They were separated. The husband is in isolation and the wife is still in yarl’s wood and is still having panic attacks.

After three days of hunger striking, we don’t know what is going to happen. But we have given the Home Office our viewpoints. It is them that put us here, and we expect them to take action to respond to those points.

The people that are out there should approach the Home Office and talk to them. Even if we can approach people in here, no one will do anything because they are part of the home office.

Please take action to talk to the home office. Our voices aren’t heard because we are in here.

This thing of detaining young people who could be the future of Britain. Those kids did nothing to be here. Those people who have been here for 10 years or more there should be given a complete amnesty. We do not depend on benefits we depend on our work and we contribute to the economy of the country where we are now and that is Britain.

People are allowed to work inside the detention centre. In the canteen, serving food, and cleaning. And they pay them £1 per hour or £3 per day. I’m not going to exploit my self for the home office. And I feel bad for those working because they are in need of the right food and they need to buy it. It’s wrong – do they detain you so they can come and work in here and be part of their staff and exploit us?

Help us out there, to get our voices out.

It’s important that people can hear our anger.

The Hunger Strikers’ Demands

1. Shorter bail request periods
Legally it should 3-5 days, however it can take anywhere up to 21 days, or even a month before you get a bail hearing date

2. Amnesty for those who have lived in the UK 10 years and above

3. End indefinite detention
Detention periods shouldn’t be longer than 28 days

4. End Charter flights
Charter flights are inhumane because there are no prior notifications, or only an oral notification with no warning. They give no time to make arrangements with family.

5. No more re-detention
Redention should not be allowed – if you have been detained once, you should not be re-detained if you are complying with the laws they have applied. This is a contradiction, you are being punished for complying with the law; it ruins the whole purpose of expecting compliance

6. End systematic torture
Systematic torture takes place in detention – at any point an officer could turn up and take your room mate; you’re constantly on edge, not knowing what will happen next. Those who are suicidal now have their privacy taken away because they are being watched – you don’t know if an officer is coming to check on you or coming to take you away. Our rooms are searched at random and without warning; they just search first and explain later

7. Stop separating families
Separating families is inhumane – people in here are married or have British partners and have children outside, and they are denied their right to private life and right to privacy; their Article 8 rights

8. No detention of people who came to the UK as children
Young adults who came to the country as minors should not be detained, deported or punished for their parents’ immigration histories

9. The beds need to be changed
Some of us have been here for a year on the same bed; they’re the most uncomfortable beds

10. LGBT+ persons’ sexuality be believed
It should be understood that explaining your sexuality is difficult

11. Fit emergency alarms in every room in the detention centre
Only some rooms have them, and there have been a lot of cases of people being very ill in places where they can’t call for help

12. Give us access to proper healthcare

13. Give us proper food to look after our diets

14. Release people with outstanding applications

15. We want to speak to Alistair Burt MP for the constituency

#HungerForFreedom

#HungerForFreedom
Hunger strike in progress at yarls; wood detention.
We want our voices to be heard, we need an end to this indefinite detention.
Where is the fairness from home office?

It shook me up real bad.

It shook me up real bad.

What goes on inside here, no one knows. People think it’s okay. I don’t even know where to start.

I was detained in May, I came here from court. I was in prison for 2 and half years for drug offences but they never served me a deportation order or a ticket. My solicitor said I should not enter a detention centre. I was due to be released but they just said I’m going to be detained and gave me no reason for me to be detained. They know I’m a married man, they know I’ve got kids in the UK. My wife is a full-time dental nurse. They’ve seen everything. I’ve been the UK for 17 years, I have never left the UK since I’ve been here. I was fifteen when I came, my mum and dad died when I was young and I was brought here by my auntie. My wife was looking forward to me to come home but right now she’s stressed out.

This place is disgusting. It’s nasty. It’s got loads of bed bugs. There are people slicing themselves with blades. The food is not good. This is not a place to lock up no-one. It’s unclean. People are taking drugs like its outside. Yesterday, they moved a guy out – and he took a picture with his phone – and then they shifted him out of the prison. I can’t sleep properly in the night time because there’s stuff always going on.

The other day, there was a man who was 55 years old. He came to me for help to find a solicitor. He said he was in detention for 14 months. He said he was getting ill-treated. He has no one in Jamaica – no family, no connections at all. They gave him a plane ticket and they came after him. While he was being removed, he dialled my number and I spoke to him while he was on the plane. He was handcuffed. They was beating him all the way to the flight and on the plane. He was saying oh please, crying out. And the guard was saying oh just calm down. And he was screaming. I could hear him crying. Even my eye’s had water in it. He was a nice man, you know.

He said to me that they had a syringe. That there was a guy standing there ready to jab him. He started to slur his words. He was on Virgin Airlines. This is Richard Branson’s company.

A custody officer was standing by me when I was listening to it on the phone. She was saying oh my god. She was feeling so bad she said she would leave her job.

That man is back in Jamaica right now. He has no clothes, no shoes on his feet. He had no money. He was crying and he was begging, saying please help me. And I’m an inmate myself, I couldn’t help him.

These are people that have got kids and family ties in this country. They aren’t taking this into consideration when they try to deport you.

When I first came Britain wasn’t like this. Immigration are doing dirtywork. The Home Office is trying to deny that they know that people are harmed when you’re deported.

The Home office need to be investigated. People need to protest against them.

I think they are arranging a sudden collection of people tonight.

I’ve been in detention for 3 weeks. On Tuesday I was supposed to be on that charter flight. They didn’t contact me until very late and they locked me in doors. And then they told me I wasn’t on the flight.

Today, they have given me a letter saying that within ten days they are going to deport me to Lagos, Nigeria

I have 4 children with EU passports. They go school in the UK. My Wife is an EEA citizen living and working in the UK. We’ve lived in the UK for 10 years this September.

I think they are arranging a sudden collection of people tonight. They have sent me to G wing – someone told me that this was about the secret flight tonight.

They told my wife to see the MP and get a letter. She doesn’t know the MP and she doesn’t know what to do. How do they expect her to contact the MP immediately. She’s picking up the children from school.

they’ve said they can come back and removed us any time in the next ten days

They were about to take us back to Nigeria on Tuesday. They had a charter a charter flight. On that Tuesday, I don’t know what happened. Something happened – people went there and said people weren’t going to be deported.

And they had to bring them back to Harmondsworth.

And today, they’ve said they can come back and removed us any time in the next ten days. And the guys who I saw there on Tuesday, they were our escorts on the coach sitting beside us. I saw them coming in now. I didn’t see the coaches. I but the people who were escorting us.

I’m feeling bad because I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go. They have called each one of us and it can happen any time.