Today has been a very emotional day for me personally,
I am struggling to see anyone in healthcare here in Yarl’s Wood and even going to get my anti-depressants is a struggle now as I just don’t feel I can have any sort of contact with the healthcare staff as I feel vulnerable when I do and I can’t make myself vulnerable in that environment.
So that being said one of my dear friends and fellow activist was segregated today, this is what they do now before you are deported, and even though she is still here I fear she might be lost to me forever.
One faint ray on sunshine is that Stuart McDonald and hopefully Yvette Cooper are visiting us today and we, though diminished in number, are still very grateful for the opportunity to speak with members of the select committee.
We want to know if anything is being done regarding our plight but I also need to know if the Home Office will be held to account for their oppressive treatment of detainees, and when will it’s practices be regularised by a truly independent body, it cannot be allowed to continue it’s immoral and even illegal practices with impunity any longer.
A serious investigation needs to take place into how the Home Office choose to interpret policy and how it enforces these policies, but ideally we would like a clear change in policy with no room for interpretation because our very lives are affected by this bureaucratic administrative body.
I speak for myself and many others when I say the situation for us is getting worse, we are not coping with the constant pressures on us and how can we fight our cases in this sorry state. For most of us it is a fight for life as we know it, if not for life itself.
It is this reality, this desperation I face and deal with every day, not to mention my own personal hell that is dealing with my own case, from the purgatory that is Yarl’s Wood.
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.”
We, the Yarl’s Wood Strikers, would like to meet with Yvette Cooper, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Stuart McDonald and as many other members of the Home Affairs Committee as possible regarding the questions they will pose to Serco at the Select Committee hearing on Tuesday, 20 March.
We strongly feel that while Serco are tasked with the running of Yarl’s Wood it is ultimately the Home Office who is responsible for the misery we suffer. We want them to raise our demands to end indefinite detention, inadequate healthcare, the detention of vulnerable people, asylum seekers, and the detention of those the Home Office is not in a position to remove. We want to change the manner we are treated by the Home Office in general when handling our cases to make sure they respect us as human beings.
We have been striking for three weeks, since 21st February. We are striking with clear and achievable demands. We need the Home Office to be held to account for their actions and to be regulated in some way so that it will no longer break the law and abuse our rights with impunity.
We therefore call on the Home Affairs Select Committee meet with us before the questioning of Serco and to question the Home Office and Immigration Minister with regard to our demands, the UK detention regime and the condition we suffer in Yarl’s Wood.
About the signal, we can’t get any calls through because there is no signal, this is over a week now and I kind of feel like it’s on purpose.
We have to go outside in the rain to make phone calls.
I have been told by officers it’s outside as well but I would like to find out the reason as it’s distressing and very inconvenient when people can’t contact lawyers and family.
I feel even more cut off as most of the time I can’t get back to anyone.
It’s very surreal here In Yarl’s Wood at weekends.
Outside weekends are most people’s favourite part of the week but here it’s the opposite, once you’ve been here a while you start to see the patterns. They purposely take people on weekends and I can’t help but think it’s because it’s harder for most to get hold of lawyers or anyone to help them.
They took a lady to deport to Brazil yesterday, I didn’t know her but her friends told me she has a court date on the 25th of this month.
It does not surprise me as I know the Home Office does not respect or allow everyone due process, but as word got out that a woman had been taken and was being removed to Kenya the atmosphere became tense and it’s been so quiet. Today I’ve been walking around trying to find out about the Kenyan lady who was snatched away and I could not find anyone to talk to. Everyone was in their rooms quietly, no one in the corridors, very surreal and I found myself remembering one of my favourite zombie movies 28 Days Later when he wakes up and there’s no one around.
Still most people are often in a daze and unresponsive so it’s like The Walking Dead the rest of the time anyway. This is my worst nightmare only I get to wake up to it and not wake out of it.
I just want it to end.
People ARE detained indefinitely not because the Home Office can remove them but because they intend to remove them.
Why deprive people of their liberty when they have no travel documents and ongoing cases which they would be better equipped to fight if they were free from this negative, psychologically oppressive environment.
Surely as the burden of proof is always on the claimant and not the Home Office, it would be a fairer fight. But we don’t get a fair chance when facing the Home Office.
We are very grateful to the Minster of State for the Middle East and North East Bedford MP Alistair Burt for granting us a visit on the 9/03/18 where a few of us got the opportunity to talk to him about our concerns and give him the list of our demands which he stated he could deliver to the Immigration minister, we trust as a member of the cabinet he has the ability to do so in a timely manner.
I am hopeful as he was most attentive and showed genuine interest in our situation.
He confirmed that the purpose of Immigration Removal Centres is to detain those the Home Office can remove and not people they intend to remove, and I hope that we will be free to fight our cases from a different position soon. I hope he takes active measures to ensure the Home Office apply this policy as in was intended and not as the Home Office choose to interpret it.
The fact that a considerable number of detainees are eventually released into the community clearly demonstrates that there is no purpose in their detention in the first place and this is unfair, counterproductive, and a costly measure both to the people detained and the tax payer.
I hope he does not forget about us in this tucked away, quiet part of his constituency and we hope to hear from him soon.
This whole thing started out of desperation and frustration and a deep sense of injustice felt by myself and others. We needed a voice and more importantly we needed someone to listen. We needed to be reminded that we are human beings because trust me when I say most of us are so dehumanised by this process of detention and the way we are treated in detention that you start to forget.
Every day is a battle, personally I have to think of a reason to go on living every day, to go on fighting, to not give up. I have moments when I do give up and feel so sorry for myself that I consider letting them deport me.
Just one problem, I honestly don’t feel like I have another country, it’s not like I’ve had an easy life here, quite the opposite, but it’s still my home. I don’t identify with any other nationality and I’m having an identity crisis, I don’t know where I belong anymore. I feel like I’m about to be exiled.
I would rather die in Britain than live in the country they want to send me to.
I keep thinking about my friend *****,
She was deported to India on Saturday, after escaping her family who were persecuting her because she wouldn’t agree to a forced marriage and married for love instead and out of cast. She suffered terrible abuse before escaping to Britain. She studied and worked here for 7 years, she made a life for herself here and even though she was abandoned by her husband she did ok here.
She wanted to claim asylum but was given bad legal advice and withdrew her claim as she was told to claim asylum when you are being removed and instead the lawyer took her money for other applications which were bound to be unsuccessful.
When she tried to claim asylum before she was removed they told her that she could not, is that even legal? Who knows what’s legal anymore? I certainly don’t.
I worry about what is happening to her I hope she is safe. It’s really bothering me.