Troubled Water: AI, Gita Sahgal & Moazzam Begg

NB. Sorry lots of long quoted text in this post, if you are already aware of various articles just skip to the next bit.

As a member of Amnesty International I am very aware of the organisation’s occasional difficulties and the many powerful and vicious enemies it has (put simply people who enjoy and profit from genocide and torturing people to death would gladly have all of AI killed, yes folks that is the reality), as such relying solely on an article in The Sunday Times and Gita Sahgal’s statement as the basis of judging issues surrounding Moazzam Begg & CagePrisoners is short sighted. Certainly she has earned respect with her work, but there are problems with the article and her decision to pursue her position in media that regularly is soft on (and at times supports) human rights abuses is odd. Suggestions in comments by Craig @ Stoppyblog of a post Irene Khan power score settling/jostling for position are disappointing if true (don’t seem to be able to link to specific comments with Echo, anyone know how/if you can?). Conversely AI suspending her seems counterproductive to resolving the matter.

Read the rest of this entry »

More Than 50 Women On Hunger Strike In Yarl’s Wood, Subjected To Abuse

The UKBorder Agency are of course lying to the media that the women are being treated well, the majority of detainees are rape survivors and the UKBA treats them like criminals, yet this is not reported in the horror story way we report say Saudi or Bangladeshi criminalising of rape survivors but it is just as inhumane. And while it may rest on different fundamentalist ideas (secular economic nationalism as opposed to religious patriarchy) the end result is people treated appallingly by authorities thinking they are righteous with the support of a demagogic and racist media.

Women Against Rape and Black Women’s Rape Action Project

Over fifty women are currently trapped in an airless hallway in Yarl’s Immigration Removal Centre. On Friday 5 February they began a hunger strike. Today they were herded into the hallway were they have been left there for over two hours without access to water or toilets. Four women, including an asthma sufferer, have fainted. Around 1.30 the guards came into the hallway and started to beat women.

As we spoke to one woman she told us that someone was bleeding. One of the managers told the women they would regret what they have done; she called the Chinese women monkeys, and the Black women black monkeys. Four other women have been locked in other rooms for three hours, and have been told by room mates that their belongings have been packed. They are worried they face immediate removal even though their cases are still being considered. Fifteen women have been locked up in “Kingfisher”, the punishment wing.

According to women on the other wings all movement has been restricted – even those not on the hunger strike are not getting any food including diabetics who urgently need it.

Hunger strikers want to speak to the press and get the truth out about the protest.

They are protesting at the length of time they have been detained – one woman who cannot speak English, has been held for over two years. Their statement is attached. Their demands include: an end to the “degradation and humiliation of detained/foreign nationals during deportation by detention staff and escorts during flights”; an end to the Fast Track for asylum seekers which denies fair decisions, the restoration of full legal aid and access to independent legal advice for everyone who is being detained.

Cristel Amiss, Black Women’s Rape Action Project which is supporting women on hunger strike said “Over 70% of women in Yarl’s Wood are rape survivors, many are sick and vulnerable. Why are they being punished for raising serious injustices? This “kettling”tactic has been thoroughly discredited, women should be allowed back into their rooms immediately, there should be an immediate investigation into what has happened and any guard found to be responsible for injuring women must be sacked immediately”.

To interview women call 07980 659 831

More information about the conditions in Yarl’s Wood reported by women recently released who spoke at the House of Commons 14 January 2010. (ht2 Earwicga)

Posted in Human Rights, Migrant Rights. Tags: . Comments Off on More Than 50 Women On Hunger Strike In Yarl’s Wood, Subjected To Abuse