Yarl’s Wood Hunger Strikers Health At Risk, UK is Abusing Rights Say HRW

This is from a report in the Guardian on Sunday, so this is a good three days old-

Doctors warned that around 20 detainees, who say they have not eaten for 17 days, are entering a critical phase of their protest and risk doing long-term damage to their health.

The strike goes on and now John McDonnell & Jeremy Corbyn are calling for the inspector of prisons to launch an inquiry into the abuses the women are protesting about-

Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington John McDonnell has tabled a House of Commons motion, calling on the Inspector of Prisons to hold an investigation.

Mr McDonnell wants an inquiry into reports of violence, mistreatment and “racist abuse” which the centre denies.

He claims some of the women involved in the protest were held in a hallway for more than five hours, denied access to toilets and water, and locked out in the cold.

Fellow Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, who represents Islington North, has called for a halt to any removals and deportations of the women involved while an inquiry is carried out.

He has also signed the House of Commons motion.

I am not quoting any of what the government or Border Agency say because they are proven liars, 20 women do not starve themselves for three weeks to the point where it damages them permanently because of imaginary abuses as the government agencies would have us believe. So can we just be clear on this- 20 women who are guilty of no crime are in jail, they have been physically and psychologically abused, often involving racist abuse. And it is ongoing.

EDM 919: Hunger Strike At Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre
That this House notes that women detained in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre have been on hunger strike since 5 February 2010 in protest against being detained for up to two years; condemns the detention of victims of rape and other torture, of mothers separated from their children and anyone who does not face imminent removal; believes that such detention flouts international conventions and UK immigration rules; requests that HM Inspector of Prisons urgently carries out an independent investigation into reports of violence, mistreatment and racist abuse from guards, being kettled for over five hours in a hallway, denied access to toilets and water and locked out in the freezing cold, which women have made to their lawyers, the media and supporters, including the All African Women’s Group and Black Women’s Rape Action Project; and calls for a moratorium on all removals and deportations of the women who took part in the hunger strike pending the results of that investigation.
Tabled by John McDonnell

Put your MP to work request they sign EDM 919
Early Day Motions are very good ways of raising issues in parliament, which may not get debated in normal sittings of parliament.
You can contact your MP for free, through:

Also see No Borders

The system is so vicious this what a new report by Human Rights Watch says-

Women who fear severe human rights abuses if returned to their home countries are not getting fair consideration of their asylum claims under the United Kingdom’s “detained fast track” asylum system, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 69-page report, “Fast-Tracked Unfairness: Detention and Denial of Women Asylum Seekers in the UK” documents how women asylum seekers with complex claims are being routed into a system designed for much simpler claims. The women are held in detention largely for the UK’s administrative convenience, have very little time to prepare a legal case, and have only a few days to appeal if refused. But the claims often involve such sensitive and difficult issues as sexual violence, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and domestic abuse. There is little time for lawyers or other representatives to build the trust with their clients needed for them to explain their claims or to obtain medical or other evidence needed to verify them.

“The ‘detained fast track’ system doesn’t meet even the basic standards of fairness,” said Gauri van Gulik, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It is simply not equipped to handle rape, slavery, the threat of ‘honor killings,’ or other complex claims, and yet such cases are handed to it regularly.”

And interviews with some of the hunger strikers done for an article in The Friend, the Quaker magazine (ht2 Earwicga)-

Denise seemed very weak and tired. She told me she was ‘so depressed’ and hadn’t been outside for two weeks. Sanitary conditions are ‘disgusting’ she said. ‘No water in the tap’, and the toilets were ‘not flushing’. She had been placed on suicide watch. As we spoke a male officer stood at the door.

Verna Joseph, originally from St Lucia is thirty-five and says she won her case with the Home Office on Article 3 – she cannot go back ‘because of things that happened’. She had been kidnapped and tortured and suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome and bad nightmares. She told me she has been at Yarl’s Wood for six months and is illegally detained. Verna described how she can’t walk around without observation. ‘They open my letters and hold mail back’. She said ‘they wouldn’t normally do that but they are now doing it with everyone who was on the corridor when the hunger strike started’. Verna has children. They are not here in the UK.

Shaunice had more news about Denise on Sunday afternoon: ‘Today at 8 o’clock I could hear screams… coming from the isolation unit… where they were still holding another person that was abused by officers. Denise… about ten minutes to nine I received a text from Denise. In the text she said that they had beaten her… they cuffed her and they had dragged her into a van.’ She was told she was being moved to Colnbrook for an interview and ‘she said she was in a lot of pain’. Shaunice confirmed there has been a ‘backlash’ and repercussions. Denise McNeill was not answering her phone.

Shaunice said: ‘the home secretary was here – Alan Johnson on the fourth of February, they had a “freeze” [where no-one is allowed to move around the facility as] they didn’t want us to speak to him. I have lived in England for nine years… I was in prison for three years. This is like a Nazi camp… that’s how bad the torture is…”

A fourth hunger striker I spoke to on the telephone had also tried to hang herself. She did not wish to be named. Extremely distressed and crying about the ‘lies that were being told,’ she told me about the mobile phones and food at Yarl’s Wood. Serco charges on a daily basis for mobile phones. ‘10p a day is a lot of money to detainees’, she said. ‘Food is very expensive. You earn just one pound an hour for a cleaning session. A carton of juice costs £1.29. You are not allowed to have food brought in from outside’.

And a piece by Denise McNeil on why she is on hunger strike from the Guardian. This is systematic and severe system of human rights abuse operating here and now in the UK, it is a national shame and it is our responsibility to end it. See-

No Borders

National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns

(via Harpymarx) You can help:
a) Write to Minister of State Phil Woolas MP
woolasp@parliament.ukorPrivateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk to condemn the detention of victims of rape and other torture, of mothers separated from their children and anyone who does not face imminent removal. Such detention flouts international conventions and UK immigration rules.

b) Write to women inside. Contact us if you can write to women who want to receive letters. Remember, the first people killed in the concentration camps were those that got no mail.  Help ensure the guards and the government know that women are not forgotten.

c) Help find legal representation for women to lodge or appeal an asylum claim.  Most women don’t have lawyers or their lawyers do nothing. Some demand extortionate fees. Most women’s cases are not “straightforward” so many lawyers won’t take them.  Legal aid cuts have reduced the paid time that lawyers can spend on each case.

d) Money to pay for phone calls to keep in touch with lawyers and supporters. We are sending £10 in to a limited number of women to pay for phone costs.

The All African Women’s Group (AAWG) and Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP) need help.  With Women Against Rape, we are now working flat out to try to stop women being removed.  For two weeks we have been taking and returning calls to over 20 women a day (calling out from Yarl’s Wood is very expensive).  We are regularly posting updates, and faxing legal and other information in to women. AAWG is unfunded and BWRAP operates on a shoestring budget.  Any help to cover the costs of these expenses will be gratefully received.

Email: AAWG: aawg02@gmail.com BWRAP: bwrap@dircon.co.uk
Crossroads Women’s Centre
230a Kentish Town Rd
London NW5 2AB
020 7482 2496 / 07980659831

All women have compelling cases to be released because they are: mothers separated from their children; survivors of rape and other torture, detained contrary to Home Office rules; not facing imminent removal.

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