Activists call on Government to end its involvement and complicity in torture
Today two simultaneous actions were held against the inhumane practices of the Home Office and Border Agency. These called for an end to their policies: forcing asylum seekers to return to countries where they are likely to face torture and even death. These actions also aimed to highlight the inhumane treatment of those seeking political asylum within Britain.
At the Colnbrook and Hammondsworth Immigration Removal Centres near Heathrow, No Borders called for a protest to stop a charter flight that would transport 60 asylum seekers to Sri Lanka, where many Tamil returnees face arrest, torture and even death. Outside the Home Office, the Movement for Justice demanded an end to deportations and human rights violations against asylum seekers. Their protest today focused on the abuses at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, where human rights violations are reported being inflicted on the women held there.
In reaction to the No Borders callout for protest against the deportation, there are reports that the detainees were removed in the early hours. However, according to the Guardian website today at 15:59, some of the detainees have been granted a reprieve on the basis that they would be tortured. In June this year it was reported how one Tamil man deported from Britain was then brutally beaten on his return to Sri Lanka. Many other accusations have been made of the Sri Lankan Government, including genocide against the Tamil population.
It seems basics human rights are being denied at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, in Bedfordshire, which was the focus of the action outside the Home Office. Tony Gard, who visits the detention centre to provide detainee support and is from the Movement for Justice, stated how recent events have led to three women from the centre being imprisoned, without trial. Also, two other women who were at the centre are now missing.
The detainees are in prison as a result of a meeting of 100 women in the dining hall at Yarl’s Wood, on the 15th of October 2012. A statement from this meeting explains how it was a reaction to the “degrading and inhumane treatment” they suffer in the centre. The meeting was triggered after Christine Nakato, from Uganda, was dragged by 6 guards through the corridors. Whilst this happened, other women in the centre were locked into the rooms that they were in, however they could still see her rough treatment, including her head and neck being forced into an unnatural position. She was also described as being naked, and then wrapped in a blanket: all except one of the guards were men.
Mr Gard explained how Christine had left her native Uganda after escaping “severe sexual abuse”, which led her to give birth to her father’s child at the age of 19. In Yarl’s Wood she was on suicide watch and had attempted to kill herself by taking an overdose.
After being dragged through the Centre, Christine was injected to subdue her for her removal from the UK. However, the UK Border’s Agency was not able to get her onto the plane because Movement for Justice activists explained her plight to the passengers. This led them to demand that she not be deported on this flight.
In the canteen meeting in Yarl’s Wood, the detainees came to a consensus about a list of demands for justice. These demands are summarised below, the full text is online at http://www.movementforjustice.org/2012/10/349/
- We demand our freedom – release us now! End our detention!
- Stop deportation!
- We demand justice – end fast track!
- We demand the right to prepare our cases – fair hearings now! End internet censorship
- Extend the protection of women seeking asylum
- Respect our freedom of speech, expression and organisation
- We demand privacy and respect
- Stop exploiting women in detention – modern day slavery
- End the poisonous and racist police-state existence under which thousands of us now live in Britain.
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The photo is from: Free the Yarl’s Wood 3! – New Year’s Eve Solidarity Demonstration