We have just received the email below announcing the suspension of the hunger strike by women in Yarl's Wood pending a response from UKBA and SERCO to their legitimate demands. Several women have reported being very ill as a result of over five weeks without food. Nevertheless they are determined to press for justice.
Please circulate widely and support the demands of women who have so bravely challenged the authorities and exposed the injustice of detaining children, mothers and other vulnerable women, the appalling conditions in detention including racist abuse and other violence, the brutal response to their peaceful protest and the inhumanity of sending women back to possible persecution, rape and other torture.
Subject: SUSPENSION OF HUNGER STRIKE
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2010 11:51:09 +0000
NOTIFICATION OF SUSPENSION OF HUNGER STRIKE IN YARL’S WOOD IRC
This is to inform the authorities and the public that the on-going hunger strike is to be suspended on the 19 March 2010 at 9.00 am. We are giving the authorities and immigration the chance to look at all the issues raised before and during the strike. We are hoping that management at Serco will review problems at Yarl’s Wood. Also, we expect immigration to carefully look at the cases of women held at the detention centre.
The suspension will last for three weeks until something is done to all the issues that had been raised. Our position will be reviewed on suspension of the hunger strike if there are no changes to the problems and issues. Nobody wants to go on hunger strike, but if the authorities and immigration do not listen to us then we can resume the hunger strike on the 9 April 2010. This letter will be sent with a copy of the problems that we face at Yarl’s Wood.
We are demanding the following actions
*There should be a full investigation into what happened during the peaceful protest on 8 February 2010.
*Any travel arrangement for the women who were involved with the protest should be suspended until after the investigation.
*End the frustrations, physical and mental torture at the centre
*Allow enough time and make resources available to residents who need to fully present their cases.
*To end all false allegations and misrepresentations by the UKBA regarding detainees in order to refuse bail or temporary admissions.
*Access to appropriate medical treatment and care as in the community, access to edible and well cooked food, cancel weekly mobile phones charges and allow phone connections, with camera and recording facilities to back up cases.
*To stop the forceful removal and degrading system of deportation of detainees
*To put law into practice, European rules governing standard of conditions of detention for migrants and asylum seekers and the length of time in detention.
*Detention should be by a standard procedure prescribed by law, authorized by judicial authority and be subjected to periodic judicial reviews.
*To end the detention of children and their mothers, rape survivors and other torture victims, to end the detention of physically, mentally sick people and pregnant women for long period of time.
* Stop the fingerprinting and taking photograph of our visitors (Even real prisons don’t do this to visitors)
*To end the separation of children from their mothers being detained whether in detention or by destitution.
*There should be an interpreter for non English speaking women in the wings to help them with their queries.
*To end the detention of women after serving time in prison. Women served their sentence they should not be punished again by detention or deportation.
* The extortion of Yarl’s Wood shop must end. The shop charges us extra 20p per item, even though the centre knows we have no money.
* To abolish the fast track system, in order to give asylum seekers a fair chance with their application, while understanding the particular needs of victims of torture, and access to reliable legal representation which the fast track system denies.
*There should be more female offices and black offices. The centre is 80 percent black detainee and only female offices should search our rooms.
*There are very little activities in the centre. There are 12 computer (which is very slow to use), 10 chairs in the arts room with small material to work with. This is suppose to cater for more than 400 women. The library have no popular books and all the books are very old. We are not allowed to order books from other library.
*To end the repeat detention of women granted temporary admission while reporting or signing after a short period out of detention.
*To a set period of time allowed to detain women, which should be no longer than one month, while waiting decision either from UKBA or court proceedings.
*Finally instead of detention of foreign nationals, there are alternatives to detention stated by the *Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). 'The detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe ', Adopted on the 28th January 2010, extracts below.
9.1.1. detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants shall be exceptional and only used after first reviewing all other alternatives and finding that there is no effective alternative;
188.8.131.52. placement in special establishments (open or semi-open);
184.108.40.206. registration and reporting;
220.127.116.11. release on bail/surety;
18.104.22.168. controlled release to individuals, family members, NGOs, religious organizations, or others;
22.214.171.124. handover of travel and other documents, release combined with appointment of a special worker;
Full Text: Council of Europe - Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1707 (2010)1
The detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe
This letter is sent to the following organisations and individuals
Immigration, UKBA, Crossroadswomen, national coalition of anti deportation campaigns (ncadc), All African women's group, BID, Liberty, Black women's rape Action project, Member of Parliment, Medical Justice, Legal Action for Women, Amnesty International, No Borders, Action for women