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Report on Demonstration outside Harmondsworth/Colnbrook Detention Prisons

London Against Detention | 08.04.2006 20:14 | April 2006 No Borders Days of Action | Migration | Repression

On Saturday 8th April, over 250 protestors successfully voiced their refusal of the UK’s racist, repressive detention and deportation system for asylum seekers with a demonstration outside Harmondsworth & Colnbrook Detention Centres near Heathrow.

The action, called by London No Borders & London Against Detention, was part of a National Day of Action against the UK detention and deportation system and the known racist, repressive management system within these prisons, elements within which are acting with impunity with regard to the many and varied abuses which go on inside.

As protestors congregated in front of both detention centres, in the drive-in to the 2 prisons, police issued Section 14 of the Public Order Act on the crowd, penning them in with fencing. There were well over 100 police in and around the area. Banners were unfurled, and the mobile PA started up. There followed speeches from a number of ex-detainees, all of whom gave their personal testimonies of their own experiences of detention in the UK, with some quite emotional accounts relayed. Then, a detainee, speaking from inside one of the detention prisons, spoke to a campaigner via telephone, and what he was saying was read out to the crowd. He told the demonstrators that inmates inside the prisons had caused disruption and great deal of noise and rattling was going on inside. The inmate informed the demonstration that all inmates were on 24-hour hunger strike because prison wardens had refused any inmates window access to view the demonstration outside. It was learned during the demonstration that all visiting time for later in the day was to be cancelled.

Protestors shouted out slogans such as “No Borders, No Nations, End Deportation!”, and were joined by the explosive rhythms of the Samba band. No matter where the inmates were moved to inside the walls of the 2 prisons to shield them from view of this colourful, vibrant wave of solidarity that had congregated for them, there is no doubt that they and all the prison guards and wardens would have heard the thumping, driving rhythms of the Samba band and the impassioned chanting that accompanied it.

It was learned by protestors that as a result of today’s demonstration, atleast one deportation of a detainee had to be cancelled today.

Later on, a smaller group of protestors who had walked from another route from behind the detention centres, were issued with Sections 50 & 60, which gave the police authorisation to photograph them, as they were surrounded by police.

The demonstration ended peacefully at some time after 2pm. Most protestors left by coach.

Well-done to all who organised for this. There were some herculan efforts by a lot of committed people to make this happen. The ongoing visiting of inmates continues. Inmates at both detention centres have called on protestors to visit them this week in particular. (For more info on that, call the No Borders office on: 020 7 580 1552 ).

London Against Detention
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