Hunger Strikes at Yarl’s Wood

#ShutDownYarlsWood #FeministsAgainstBorders #MigrantsRights #NoOneIsIllegal #RefugeesAreWelcome

Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre was the Labour government’s “flagship” detention centre built near Clapham, in Bedfordshire.

Since its opening (19th November 2001), there has been controversy after controversy – underlined by abuse, racism and inappropriate sexual activity by staff; repeated concerns about lack of and/or inadequate healthcare; and examples of the contemptuous attitude which guards have shown towards those in their charge, highlighted during undercover filming 

Not least, in early February 2002, much of the centre was burnt down following protests triggered after an elderly Nigerian woman was physically restrained by staff after she requested permission to attend church.

Moreover, throughout the centre’s existence there have been a number of hunger strikes by detainees in protest at institutionalised racism and abuse:

In December 2001, just after opening the first known hunger strike began with twenty five Roma detainees refusing to eat.
In July 2005, more than 30 Ugandan women detainees went on hunger strike to protest about the behaviour of some staff.
In 2006, parents detained in the centre went on hunger strike in a desperate bid to draw attention to the sufferings of their children.
In May 2007, it was reported that there was a hunger strike involving around 100 women.
In June 2009, a mass hunger strike broke out in 2009 and was met with violent assaults on detainees by Serco security guards.
In February 2010 a mass hunger strike, which involved some 84 women at the start, was sparked by detainees demanding that “the frustration and humiliation of all foreign nationals [in detention] ends now.” 
In April 2015, a hunger strike began with 31 couples from the Hummingbird Unit in regard to a death of a male detainee Pinakeen Patel, aged 33 from Gujarat, India.
In November 2015, there were reports that female detainees were refusing to eat.
In January 2017, a woman detained for over 2 years (and only recently released from solitary confinement for protesting for the rights of detainees and against charter flights) was reported to have gone on hunger strike.
In February 2018, a hunger strike by women detainees at Yarl’s Wood began in protest at the indefinite detention of people who came to the UK as minors, and asylum seekers and people who have survived torture.