Its about racism in detention centres

Its about racism in detention centres. Im being bullied, its racial discrimination here. They are picking on me all the time. Last week I didn’t go for my medications, only the sleeping one because they are bullying me. They pick on me for anything I do at the moment. I don’t know what they are writing in my file. I was really broken down by it, I just stay in my room now to keep out of the way. I put in a complaint and I haven’t heard anything. Its still going, it hasn’t stop. I’ve been a victim of torture and I’ve been a victim of abuse by the Serco staff. I wore a robe in the laundry and they told me I was wearing a robe and walking about and I wasn’t. It was the morning and it’s not unusual to wear a robe in the laundry. The other girls they wear their nighties and go everywhere and no-one says anything to them. 

I’m being victimised because I have reported the staff for their behaviour to the other girls. Its racialised and its because I’m a woman. I’m being punished. Its OK for them to abuse you instead of protect you.  

I thought being in **** you get tortured and then being here you don’t get tortured. My human rights are being violated. Being in the detention centre you get tortured 24/7.

This is the life in Yarl’s Wood

In August I was taken back to Yarl’s Wood when I went to report. Why they take me back I don’t know. My passport was due to expire in a week and I saw a ticket for a few days time because they were trying to rush me through. I’ve been living in this country for 20 years. I have 8 grandchildren and 4 children in this country. 

Just after I finished visiting with my son they said they come to take me to isolation. I told them i am not going. They called security. Four big men came and manhandled me and put cuffs on me and slammed me on the floor. I am 52 years old, I had a heart attack last year, I have many sicknesses. I am a victim of torture. All this reminds me and brings back the memories of torture. One of the big men put his foot or his his big hand on my head to keep it down. They took me to Kingfisher which is the isolation. They throw me on the floor there, the floor is really dirty. 

I was so traumatised I wanted to die. I took some tablets. On the way airport i told the officers I had taken tablets and took me to hospital and had to flush my stomach. That flight was canceled because they tried to rush it through. So they took me back to Yarl’s Wood.

Whenever I see the guards I am afraid. I lock my room now. I never used to do that. I run away when i see the guards. 

This is the life in Yarl’s Wood.

On Saturday they locked us all up. We just wanted to see the people who were here for us and we couldn’t. All the women were really upset. We didn’t know this could happen in a country where I am supposed to be safe. You expect this to happen in Africa but not in Britain. So we are not eating, but we are weak.

This is like Guantanamo Bay. Really.

We are walking around like we are mad. We are not like this.

The guards don’t respect the women at all. Not the way they treat us here. 

We are not talking to them. We are just staying in our rooms or move away when they try talk to us.

They are turning a blind eye to why we are on hunger strike

They are turning a blind eye to why we are on hunger strike. They just want us to eat, not even eat just they need your finger to scan so they count us for the dinner. They don’t care if we eat but they are loosing money. If it doesn’t go their way they go against us. They are not happy. When the food is not eaten they are loosing. So they just want your finger so they can say you have eaten. They do not care about our well being here. Even if you want to buy things from the shops you have to use the biometrics with your hands.

They said I am not eating so they won’t give me my medication. 

They said it is from above, why they locked us up on Saturday. They haven’t explained it to us.

The night officer kicked the door, as if he was a wild animal to shut the door. It is so hot in here and we needed some air. I was in my room naked because it was so hot it was the only way to get some air. I was naked in my room and he came in and turned his body camera on. He is a male officer he shouldn’t even be here. 

This is the 21st century and this is being done. You don’t treat any one like this. We have been working, paying taxes, contributed to the society. Why they have to bring mothers here, sisters, aunties. Our rights and our dignity are being taken away from us. They say they are security and are here to protect us but they are not protecting us. They are abusing us. 

We are striking because of the way we are being treated here.

We have put in a complaint and people have signed it and we were planning on doing a hunger strike already from Monday but we brought it forward because of what happen on Saturday. 

They say why do people do the protests outside when nothing has been happening. No one is released and nothing changes. If they really think that why did they lock us up. What is your fear? People come and stand outside in the rain and travel from all over the country to support us we need to show our support. If they really think that why do they put more officers on? Why are they so afraid?

We have decided to go on hunger strike

We have decided to go on hunger strike. It was a last minute thing because of what they have done to us. They have locked us up. In all the units we are on hunger strike. We are not sure how long for. If we have to go tomorrow we will as well. We are entitled to do a peaceful demonstration. It is our right, it is our freedom of speech. 

From 1:30 when the protestors are coming up. They locked us up they up and they didn’t want us to shout out to the protestors through the window. We are locked up already in this centre and they lock us up again inside. They didn’t want us to shout out – we are on the other side of the building from the protestors. They lock us in Crane. The women in Dove are locked in Dove. Avocet as well. We all have to stay in our units. This is the first time they have done this. 

Why are they frightened if they think they have nothing to hide? Why are they panicking like that?

There are so many officers, some of them area between the units, some are in the corridors, monitors and officers to keep an eye that you don’t even shout and you don’t even do anything. They have never done this before.

We want to appreciate the people to show us support but we were locked up. We are being treated like objects and not human being.

We will know what the outcome is today and see if we have to go tomorrow. 

We ask them why did they lock us up. It is our freedom of speech. it is our right. We want an answer.

We would like to see an end to indefinite detention. 

They call it ‘Notorious Yarls Wood’, and it is notorious.

They don’t give you a ticket, they give you a window of time. They say, ‘You will go within these three days, or five days.’ They changed this about a month ago. Why is this? Because we would call our solicitors straight away and stop the flight. As I am talking there is a woman next door who is supposed to be taken to the airport today, deported to Pakistan. There were supposed to be 15 women deported yesterday, to Nigeria. There was a flight stop about two months ago, people refused to go. We grouped up for three days in one room, refused to eat and everything, and the charter flight didn’t happen. So now they takes one by one into isolation so we can’t be in solidarity and stop the flight together. The bus comes, the bus is called ‘THE JOURNEY BEGINS HERE’. That is the name of bus that takes the women. This bus took the women to Stansted Airport for a charter flight to go to Nigeria and Ghana. We really fear for our safety here. Our experiences here leave us with depression, sleep disruption and mental health. We are like zombies.

It really reminds us of the history you read about slaves. When they used to take people and put them in the ships, to take them and go and sell them. Now, they are doing this here. Yarls Wood is a slave ship. They take you from here and put you on a charter flight. The G4S, the owners of this place, they get a lot of money when they deport people out of the country. There was a woman here who wanted to go, her daughter bought her a ticket to leave but they didn’t like this because they don’t get all the money from it. They took their time to let her go, but when they want to deport you they move quickly, because they get money from it.

When you look in Yarls Wood there is no white person in here, we are all Indian, Chinese and African. It is racism. They don’t want any people of colour in this country. There are white Zimbabweans who are claiming asylum but they can do it outside. We are treated as animals. One officer said to us they get £300 a week for each of us.

The people in the Mediterranean, we are like this. This is our ship, we are drowning. We don’t have life jackets, we need lifejackets. Our life jackets are you people out there. Please help us.

I have been in England 20 years, I paid my taxes, paid my NI. My back is hurt from lifting older people, working with disabled children. I worked with all my heart. There is one woman here who is 87 years old. An Indian woman. Would you do this to your Grandmother? She cant even walk. If there was a Yarls Wood in Africa it would be all over the news. But it is happening in England and so nobody knows about it. The laws in England remain the most barbaric in the EU.

Out there they don’t know about people in here. We left our family outside. Our children are outside, our husbands are outside. The young girls here just got married and they left their husbands outside. They are breaking up families.

It is like we are in prison, these women have never done anything wrong. We left torture, we ran from rape. Then you think you are running away England where you can be safe.

We really need help in here. this places needs to be shut down. They are depriving us of our liberty. We came to England to be safe. Hearing that if you come to England you will be safe. You are running away from murders and torture, some people have had all their families murdered.

We are not terrorists. We are not harming anyone. There are people who have been killing people who are given bail. We haven’t hurt anyone. They lie, they say you are a threat to society. I am not a killer. Where are we to turn to for help? The whole world needs to know. Tell the BBC. They call it ‘Notorious Yarls Wood’, and it is notorious.

Please help us, they are just taking us and throwing us in the planes.

When I was detained, I told them I was pregnant.

I’m pregnant and I’ve been in detention for almost 2 months. I’m not supposed to be detained for this long but I’ve been here for a long time now.

My appeal was allowed, it was successful at first and the Home Office appealed. Then I got refused. I appealed and when I went to report I was detained. I was considered appeal rights exhausted even though my appeal was still on. When I was detained, I told them I was pregnant. They said I could still fly up to 9 months which is not the law – I haven’t seen it any where.

I got given a ticket about 2 weeks ago for this Saturday. I didn’t go on Saturday – I was told by the solicitor it was cancelled I the afternoon. But they still came for me in the morning saying I had to go to reception. I told them I wasn’t going. We didn’t know whether they would try to use force. I was so stressed at that point so I didn’t know what to do. They didn’t come for me in the end.

I don’t know what is going to happen now – I put in for an asylum claim and they’ve said the Home Office will be in touch. I’m still waiting in Yarl’s Wood.

Since I’ve been in this place – yes I’ve had medical checks – but I’ve not been properly looked after. I got pregnancy vitimins only after a month. I’m suffering from depression and since I’ve been here they’ve stopped my medication without telling me why. When I booked in I told them I was on this medication but they didn’t give it to me and didn’t check if I needed it. They stopped it without informing me about it.

The food is not appropriate for my condition – it’s really poor in nutrients. I have both sickness and cravings but I can’t get what I want. It’s rice and potatoes and bread everyday. I just try to do what I can but it’s really poor. Even the medical staff will agree with me. They say they hope I’ll be out soon so they know themselves its wrong but they’re not doing anything about it.

This is my first child – on the outside, I was going to get ante-natal classes to prepare myself for my first child. I asked them for books and readings. It’s been over a month now and they haven’t got back to me. It just seems like it doesn’t matter. It feels like I’m already failing as a mum even though the baby hasn’t come yet. What if the baby gets here and I’m not ready. Not just physically but mentally prepared. It’s really frustrating.

They shouldn’t detain pregnant women. They shouldn’t detain anyone at all. I won’t just talk for myself because I’m pregnant. It’s unfair for anyone. This is mental torture, it’s physical as well. It’s like you’re stuck in someplace and people are asking for things you can’t do – evidence, for example. If you’re on your own in here you can’t get it. You come in when you’re healthy but it’s not good for you. I will get out of here and I’ll be more mentally ill than I was before. I’ve not had a good day since I’ve been in here. Even when you’re trying to cope, to settle yourself. There’s always something they will do to remind you that you’re not free. That you’re controlled by somebody.