At Oakington Migrant Detention Centre (named second worst and ‘unsafe’ in an official report by the Chief prison inspector Anne Owers) a man died (believed to be a Kenyan national), there was a riot and our supposedly over stretched security forces rustled up 150 riot officers to kidnap protesters and disperse them to prisons. However as there is a nice shiny General Election campaign going on and the only look in for migrants is which party victimises them to best electoral effect, so y’know, whatever huh? Details are sketchy, the Beeb have, as is their current style, taken the official information and relayed it as fact, some more detailed reporting has been done by a local paper Cambridge News, but first the Guardian report of the death-
One source told the Guardian that the man, who is thought to have had a heart attack, had asked for Panadol repeatedly and was seen “crawling around the floor in pain” before he died. The source claimed the man’s pleas for help were refused by staff at the centre, which is run by the private security company G4S for the UK Border Agency.
Dashty Jamal, general secretary of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, told the Guardian he had spoken to detainees and had also been told the man died of a heart attack: “He was asking for a doctor. It’s very hard to get a doctor there. He had a heart attack and he died.”
After that protest at the neglect and death, Cambridge News-
RIOT police were deployed to Oakington Immigration Centre when violent scenes erupted and a detainee’s body was held hostage. A mob of upset inmates smashed down the gates of one compound as anger flared after the death of a 40-year-old yesterday morning. Detainees prevented police invest¬igators from going into the dormitory where the body of the man lay. More than 180 inmates held a courtyard protest demanding better treatment and calling for an inquiry as tensions mounted.
A News photographer was able to take a picture of scenes within the compound after being taken up in an aircraft. The protesters were angry about the circumstances surrounding the death of the man, thought to be a Kenyan national, who had become ill. He died in the early hours of the morning from what is believed to be a heart attack.
Inmates also threatened to go on hunger strike claiming the man’s death could have been prevented.
Around 150 police including riot control officers poured into the centre. The coroner’s van waited at the centre all day during the standoff as police negotiators spoke to inmates. Officers eventually persuaded inmates to allow officers into the dormitory and the body was later taken away by officials from the coroner’s office.
A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire police said: “Officers did negotiate with inmates to enter the dormitory where the body was so that scenes of crimes investigators could enter.
“Police wanted to enter peacefully and were allowed in after negotiations. The body has now been taken from the centre and a post-mortem will be held tomorrow.”
One inmate told the News earlier in the day: “There are about 200 people all very upset. The authorities have done nothing to help him and now he is dead. I think there will be a riot here.”
From the Morning Star–
Medical Justice, a campaign group which works closely with asylum-seekers in detention, said that it had repeatedly warned the government about conditions in Oakington and other centres. Medical Justice clinical director Dr Frank Arnold said: “If reports are true that adequate health care was denied to this man, we are sadly not surprised.
“Actually, we are surprised a detainee hasn’t died sooner – our volunteer doctors who visit detainees have come across hundreds of cases where medication and access to hospital has been denied. We have warned the government and the private companies it contracts the running of detention centres to about the many cases of dangerous medical mismanagement we have seen. We call for the immediate closure of Oakington. Our volunteer doctors have found that the harm being caused by immigration removal centres is so widespread that the only solution is to close them down.”
In 2008, Oakington was singled out for serious criticism by the prison inspectorate. Inspectors found that staff at the facility had used excessive force, maintained poor facilities and that there was a rising level of self-harm among detainees.
In January this year, a Bolivian family who had been detained at Oakington for 42 days received a settlement of £100,000 from the Home Office after it admitted falsely imprisoning them. Solicitors for Carmen Quiroga and her four children said Ms Quiroga had suffered verbal abuse and threats from staff, and was denied access to medicine and children’s food. On one occasion, she was struck by a guard in front of her children for failing to maintain eye contact.
Subsequently the authorities got the camp and the media locked down and the story became ‘ringleaders’ and injured security forces, I find it unlikely no detainees have been injured but news is coming through official channels so clearly they will not volunteer that information-
A NUMBER of security staff and a police officer were injured in a move to take out 60 detainees from Oakington immigration centre. A detainee speaking to the News shortly before the action said they feared the UK Border Agency was removing “ring-leaders” of a protest over the death of a fellow inmate on Thursday. The death of the 40-year-old man, bellieved to be a Kenyan national, prompted a huge disturbance at the centre near Cambridge.
The move on Friday night led to minor injuries among officers and it is thought the removed detainees are being taken to prisons. A Home Office spokesperson said a “number of ringleaders have been removed from Oakington”.
“The death of the man on Thursday is not being treated as suspicious, but a Home Office spokesman said he believed detainees had used the death “as a way of protesting, trying to get their point of view across”.
So they reckon to have gotten away with it, refusing a man medical care quite possibly causing his death, justifiably angry and desperate detainees showing solidarity and protesting are pejoratively called ‘ringleaders’ and massive security force response to spirit them away to unnamed prisons. Now is there something wrong with me that I find this not acceptable activity for this country a supposed open democracy that is actually undergoing an election campaign at present so such news should have greater impact not less. Of course -greater- would rely 0n any of the parties valuing migrants and not using them as scapegoats for the negative ‘externalities’ of their neoliberal approaches to economic and social policies from which none of the the parties significantly deviate (not significantly enough to justify the interest and enjoyment exhibited by GE obsessed new and old media). Death, riot and imprisonment without trial, happening right now, anyone want to give a shit about that? Huh? Anyone? Hello…?
PS. Cambridge Migrant Solidarity will be holding a demonstration in solidarity with the detainees in Oakington this Sunday between 12 noon and 2pm. If you would like to join people cycling from Cambridge, meet on Parkside (next to Parker’s Piece), by coach bay 16 at 10am. There will be transport available for people from Cambridge leaving from the same meet up point at Parkside at 10:30am. There will be transport available for people travelling from outside Cambridge, leaving from Cambridge train station at 11:30. Please call or text 078 7979 3739 now, if you would like transport at either time, so we can make sure we arrange enough to get everyone there. There are no public transport services near the Removal Centre (it is not in Oakington village).