Update On Yarl’s Wood Hunger Strike Women

(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: customer.relations@fly.virgin.com or fax 0844 209 8708

0844 874 7747 Departure information for Lagos flights and

Press office 01293 747 373 katie.francis@fly.virgin.com

Write to Phil Woolas MP, the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration woolasp@parliament.uk or http://www.philwoolasmp.org/emailPhil.html

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.

Dogs Of War

Le Monde diplomatique, February 9, 2010, Marie-Dominique Charlier:-
Estimates of the numbers of PMC personnel in Afghanistan vary from 130,000 to 
160,000, the second-largest deployment after Iraq, which it is set to overtake in the near future. The 30,000 extra US troops bound for Afghanistan could be accompanied by up to 56,000 additional contractor personnel. PMC contractors will then account for nearly two-thirds of all the Pentagon’s personnel in Afghanistan, the highest ratio in any conflict 
in the history of the US.

The best known PMCs, Xe (Blackwater), DynCorp, MPRI (Military Professional Resources Inc) and Kellog Brown and Root, are all part of a grouping known as Private Security Companies of Afghanistan. Their involvement takes a big bite out of the funds intended for the reconstruction of the Afghan National Army (ANA).

Although they are supposed to play an auxiliary role to the coalition, and to the US army, the legal status of the PMCs is vague. But behind the “turnkey” solutions they offer lie big business interests, which influence military decisions in the field. There is a convergence of financial interests between the PMCs and big US industrial conglomerates: most PMCs have been bought up by conglomerates through mergers and acquisitions, many since 2001.

Moreover, the boom in outsourcing coincides with the need of the US military to assure their own redeployment: most of the senior management of the PMCs are former military officers, who find it easy to make the transition from the public to the private sector. Former senior officers of US armed forces working for PMCs enjoy a close relationship with the Pentagon, which gives them easy access to classified information and guarantees a degree of impunity.

A British contractor said recently that the Americans, the British and other armed forces were in Afghanistan to win the war, but for his firm, the more the security situation deteriorated the better. This is not necessarily compatible with conflict stabilisation and the “Afghanisation” of peace.

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Observation & Reflection

I think it would be useful for some people to ask themselves why they are eager to immediately believe the best about The Times/Spectator articles and/or Gita Sahgal and the worst about Amnesty International, Moazzam Begg and/or CagePrisoners.

Posted in Human Rights. Tags: . Comments Off on Observation & Reflection