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London No Borders | 10.04.2006 09:51 | April 2006 No Borders Days of Action | Anti-racism | Migration | Social Struggles | London | World

Report of the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook demonstrations, an update about the urgent situation in Colnbrook & info about visiting and future meetings

The demonstration at Harmondswrth an Colnbrook detention centres yesterday, of over 250 people, was an inspiring show of solidarity with those on the inside who are resisting their detention and deporation. We were joined on the demo by people from all around the UK, aswell as many migrants and former detainees, including people from Uganda, Iran, Iraq and Ethiopia. We decided on this occasion to negotiate a space for the demostration with the police, so as to avoid any possibility of a situation which might endanger those in a precarious situation who daily face the possibility of detention and deportation.

However, in addition to the main demo at the front of the detention centres, about 40 people managed to make their way around the side of Colnbrook where detainees could see and hear them from the windows, and they spent a long time communicating with people inside, before being moved on by police.

The main demo also acheived an unprecedented level of communication with those on the inside, as many detainees phoned us and we were able to broadcast their speeches and the amazing noise of the protests inside, over the PA we set up outside. The actions of the police and immigration authorities, by restricting movement both inside and outside, and stopping visits for the aftenoon, were obviously designed to stifle communication and solidarity between us. However, the attempts at repression failed completely as the simultaneous protests were in full communication throughout, as messages of solidarity passed back and forth, to a background of music provided by Rhythms of Resistance, the WIB brass band, and a sound system.

Colnbrook repression:

During the demonstration at Harmondsworth & Colnbrook on Saturday 8th April, as people know, the detainees staged their own resistance from the inside.

As a direct response to the repression suffered during the demonstration, by the detainees (who were not allowed to go near the windows, beatings, and denying of access to go outside in the exercise area to be closer to the demo), 120 refused their lunch with some refusing water. This has apparently continued and spread with now (Sunday 6pm) over 150 on
hungerstrike in all 4 wings of Colnbrook.

Some of the people we spoked to over the phone and amplified by the PA system have suffered repression. Basically after lock-up on Saturday night about 15 guards came to one detainee's cell and removed him to the 'secure' unit. He has been wrongly accused of leading the hungerstrike and given a letter saying that Serco (the private company that owns Colnbrook) is carrying out an investigation as they believe his behavior has been "disruptive of good order in Colnsbrook".

This afternoon he was removed from Colnbrook, we do not yet know where to. When he did not appear in the church, the other detainees refused to leave the church until he was returned to them. The demanded to see the manager, who came down and told them he was no longer there.

Some detainees have been told that a delegation from the Home Office will visit them on Monday - we think this is unusual. Previously any protest by detainees has been faced with people being locked in isolation cells, people being dispersed to other detention centres around the country, some being immediately deported despite having cases still pending.

During this time it is very important that we visit as many of the hunger-strikers as possible, show them solidarity during their resistance, and try as much as possible to communicate their situation to the world outside, so the Home Office finds it difficult to repress them further.



If you would like to visit or phone a detainee, please email The first time you visit it is best to go with someone who has visited before, so if you contact us we can put you in touch with people who are visiting this week.

To visit Harmondsworth and Colnbrook you do not need an appointment but it's good practise to phone the people you are visiting beforehand and ask them if they want a visit. Also, you will need one photo-ID and one proof of address. Visiting is between 2pm-9pm (but processing takes about half an hour, so get there by 8pm at the latest).

When we visit people in detention, we try also to offer some practical help where needed, such as finding lawyers, doctors and helping with the bail process, in order to help people resist deportation and get out of detention. So please make some notes of what kind of assistance the person you visit needs and contact us for help in dealing with this. It would also be useful to send us a brief report of your visit (particularly if you cannot follow it up). You can ask the guards in the visiting room for a pen and paper.

If you cannot visit, we also need other help, such as phoning people, helping in the office, fundraising, working on anti-deportation campaigns.

The No Borders Detainee Support Group is meeting this Thursday 13th April, 7pm @ The Square Social Centre, 21 Russell Square, WC1 to continue co-ordinating solidarity.

We also have a No Borders cafe & benefit with live music at The Square this Saturday 15th April.

The next general No Borders meeting is next Thursday 20th April, 7pm @ The Square.


Below are some links to general information that might be interesting for you to read if you are considering visiting.

National Coalition of anti-Deportation Campaigns website: (N.B. the info on visiting hours at detention centers is out of date)

For a current up to date info on location and visiting procedures at the immigration removals / detention centers.

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