Thursday, 11 February 2010

Yarl's Wood Hunger Strike Update & Protests

Whilst the picture coming out of Yarl's Wood is confused, with the UK Borders Agency claiming the hunger strike has ended, some of the women are still in contact with the outside world via mobile phones and they claim that they are still refusing food. Even the local paper claims that the protests are still happening (though it's hardly "the full story").

What is for definite is that in reprisal for the protests four women were removed from the detention centre on Monday night and spent the night in the cells at Bedford police station. They were not arrested and have been charged with no offence. However, they were taken to Colnbrook STHC the following day and feared they were going to be summarily deported.

Yesterday morning at 01:15 they were woken up and told they were being transferred to prison. When they asked why, they were told it was because the detention estate had no free spaces, a blatant lie. They are believed to have been split up, with 2 taken to HMP Holloway and 2 2 to HMP Bronzefield. The latest news on the hunger strike is that it is still ongoing, with more women joining it (68 on hunger strike at the last count).

The hunger strike is garnering widespread media coverage and has reinvigorated the Campaign to Shut Down Yarl's Wood itself and the general campaign against the detention of children in immigration prisons. Yesterday, the SOAS Detainee Support group, who are in regular contact with the Yarl's Wood women, held a demonstration outside the Serco offices in Holborn.* A handful of MPs were even stirred out of their normal lethargic state and held a debate on the issue.

* Their posts on Indymedia and London Indymedia have updates of the information they have received from the hunger strikers.

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