I feel I am being threatened and patronised because of the protest

Yarls Wood IRC
Bedford

On the 2/3/18, I was summoned to the Legal Home Office department to meet the Immigration Enforcement Manager Fiona Quaynor, I met her in the presence of her teammate (another) home office officer. I do not recall his name but he is Indian.

I was told by Fiona I am going to be interviewed by them especially because I am on the hunger strike protest in Yarl’s Wood over Home Office injustices and unfairness. They asked me if I was fit to do the interview to which I replied it’s ok we can proceed. Fiona explained to me that the interview was being done because I had refused food and fluids and that it was Home Office procedure to carry out the interview.

The interview kicked off and a number of questions were asked:

  • Why was I hunger striking?
  • What are my demands
  • Do I have a solicitor, etc.

After answering the questions, Fiona read out to me what I considered conditions or repercussions of me being on hunger strike and asked me if I understood what she was reading out.

I was reassured that because I was on hunger strike it didn’t mean that;

  • My case would be favoured, it will take its due course
  • It will not lead to me being granted permission to stay in the UK
  • That it didn’t mean that my removal directions would be deferred
  • That it will not lead to the progress of my immigration or Asylum case being altered or delayed
  • That it will not lead to me being released.

To mention but a few, above is what I remember.

I am very upset till today that I feel I am being threatened and patronised because of the protest. It made me feel very upset, distressed and I feel sad and depressed that indirectly we/I am being punished for hunger striking and protesting. What happened to human rights, freedom of speech and expression? Should we just keep quiet when we are not happy and pretend like everything is alright?

Is it because I am a prisoner that cannot speak out and air out my opinions and views? Is this how Britain welcomes immigrants? This is very unfair to us and I hope one day that this country, Home Office and government will protect vulnerable immigrants and refugees.

All I need is to be safe from my pursuits from my family in Uganda, it has not been a safe journey in my life especially since coming out that I am gay, but now I feel I am being punished by the one country that should give me protection. I cannot return to my country for fear of my life, it’s one of the top countries that prosecute LGBTQ people.

I am already feeling scared, frightened and I am always under the weather for being rejected by my husband’s family, community, workmates and friends. I fear for my dear life on a daily.

So trying to patronise me because I am protesting for a change that directly affects makes me feel even more anxious and angry every day.

In most questions, I told the Home Office they have a right to do whatever they want to do because I cannot control them and neither do I make their policies. I just pray for fairness and justice to prevail when it comes to my case. I lean on the hope in God that never disappoints. Only God knows destiny, no man can change what God has planned for me.

No matter what happens, let me be remembered as a Uganda Detainee that was fighting for the vulnerable and mistreated asylum seekers.

One day we shall all rest and leave this wicked world, God is in charge of our lives, Home Office can decide and throw us back in the den of lions but God shall save us.

In Healthcare, I was asked to sign a document that take away the duty of care of my health from Healthcare.

The Doctor asked me to sign so Healthcare doesn’t have to be liable for my health.

“In case any health hazard happens to you, maybe you faint or at the verge of death, if you can sign the document, we shall not touch you.”  In other words, I will have to die and healthcare, Serco and Home Office will not be liable. I refused to sign. Where is the humanity and compassion from these people that are meant to take care of us. It’s ridiculous and very frustrating.

Currently I am still on hunger strike and eating snow as I feel that’s all I want to eat right now. I am angry I feel I am not wanted in this country, let the Home Office and the Home Secretary kill me here in the UK, than returning me to a death trap in Uganda.

 

We are on a hunger strike because we are suffering unfair imprisonment and racist abuse in this archaic institution in Britain.

While I cannot speak for every detainee in Yarl’s Wood I can tell you that our group of protesters who are participating in the hunger for freedom strike are of mixed backgrounds and religions but we all have one thing in common, We are detained INDIFINITELY! and we are refusing food because we are DESPERATE at the treatment we endure by the HOME OFFICE, not because of religious beliefs but rather fundamental ethics regarding our rights as HUMAN BEINGS.

We feel voiceless, forgotten and ignored.

This is a desperate measure due to desperate circumstances.

One of our group was called to see a home official on Tuesday and that same official asked her “why don’t you go back to your country” she has an asylum case pending.

It does not surprise me hear this as I believe there are many xenophobes working here, and while we were talking about it amongst ourselves a Serco manager walked past and heard one of our repeat this phrase and blurted out “that’s a good idea”.

We are on a hunger strike because we are suffering unfair imprisonment and racist abuse in this archaic institution in Britain.

 

Sorry if this sounds a little incoherent but it’s my fourth day without food.

We are still in the legal department.

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.

I feel like I have already been removed from society

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

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.