(ht2 Harpymarx) ACTION ALERT UPDATE 9 February: Reprisals begin against women hunger strikers – please take action now
Throughout the day women have been calling to contradict claims by the Home Office that the hunger strike has ended. “Not at all” according to Ms Debo Doris, “up to twenty of us are refusing food on Avocet wing”. She had heard that eight to ten women are still striking on Dove wing. Women on Bunting wing told us “we are on hunger strike still but we are scared of what they might do to us”.
One woman, Blessing Felix, who was detained on arrival three months ago was given removal directions on Saturday. She has been taken to Heathrow tonight and faces return to Nigeria. She has no lawyer, and was unable to get legal advice yesterday since the whole centre was “locked down” and all visits including legal visits were cancelled. We know that Ms Felix reported to the authorities that she suffered violence in Nigeria. How can the Home Office claim that it is safe to send her back; the full facts of Ms Felix’s case can’t be known if she didn’t have a lawyer to represent her. It seems that the Home Office will stop at nothing to punish women for protesting.
Earlier today Ms Gladys Obiyan, together with three other women, was taken to Bedfordshire police station. They were not arrested or charged. Her friends believe that the authorities have targeted her as a hunger strike ring leader and are punishing her by taking her to Dungavel, denying her contact with her partner who has British citizenship, and her many supporters. Ms Obiyan has a compelling case to be released from detention. Her asylum claim based on years of domestic violence in Nigeria, the threat of FGM and inability to get protection from the State, is pending.
Many other women are clearly at risk of reprisals for their courageous action, including transfers and fast tracked removal. The more protest that comes from outside the more protection women will have.
Please call Virgin airlines and urge them not to deport Ms Blessing Felix on Flight VS 651 to Lagos, 10.20pm – even at this short notice it is worth doing especially as Virgin have in the past agreed not to carry those who are terrified of being returned to the violence they fled.
VIRGIN AIRLINES: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 0844 209 8708
0844 874 7747 Departure information for Lagos flights and
Press office 01293 747 373 email@example.com
and the UKBA
UKBApublicenquiries@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk to protest at retaliation against vulnerable women which is potentially a breach of human rights, and detention centre rules.