Today I took part in a campaign in Peter square to show my solidarity with the detainee women who are on hunger strike in Yarls Wook. The event was attended by a large group of people and organisations such as RAPAR, City Sanctuary and a few more.
More than 100 detainees in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre have been refusing to eat food in protest at the conditions. The women began their protest more than 10 days ago. They urged the Home Office to end “offensive” practices which they said left people “breaking down psychologically”.
The Home Office has been accused of “shocking and inhumane abuse of process”. It told vulnerable women on a hunger strike about conditions at Yarl’s Wood they faced “accelerated” deportation if they continued to protest.
I have been to Yarls Wood a few years ago to visit a friend who was taken there to be removed from the UK. She was sent back to her country Uganda. The whole process was humiliating. She had lost more than 10k in two weeks and looked so thin that I could not recognise her. She said to me: I am ready to go.I am going to be in danger but no one can take away my freedom.
She signed the papers and asked them to remove her as soon as possible. The authorities got her a ticket and took her to the airport but because of traffics on the road she missed the flight. She was locked at Heathrow airport for one night and was taken back to Yarls Wood next morning. When she phoned me the news she was devastated. The procedure was repeated again the week after. She said to me they are torturing me.
Third time her family bought her the ticket and she insisted that she wanted to leave the detention centre in the morning so she could catch the flight. When she phoned me in the evening she was on the plane. I wrote about her here.
She now lives in the US.
I also wrote about Dianne two years ago when she was taken to Yarls Wood and only was released after the story went viral. You can read her story here