In response to being mistreated by the authorities during a demonstration at the detention centers near Heathrow on 8 April, detainees in Colnbrook detention center started a hunger strike on 10 April 2006. They demanded from the Home Office an end to their detention. Anticipating that their demands would be met, most of them ended their hunger strike on 23 April. Since this anticipation proved wrong, many decided to continue.
On this page, you find a timeline of the events, solidarity actions and reports in the media. For more information or to support the detainees, please contact noborderslondon at riseup.net.
29 April: NoBorders London confirms the ongoing hunger strike, reports further mistreatment of detainees and a solidarity action during the Love Music Hate Racism event [report].
27 April: The Voice Refugee Forum reports that the hunger strike has not ended [update].
24 April: Detainees within Colnbrook have formed a movement called 'Cry Freedom' within detention centres, to demand an end to detention [update].
23 April: Detainees at Colnbrook report that many of them have ended their hunger strike, and await a meeting with a home office minister.
21 April: A delegation of detainees at Colnbrook meet again with a home office official who promises to consider all of their cases, particularly those of people who have been detained for a long time.
20 April: Around 20 Turkish Kurdish detainees begin hunger striking in Harmondsworth. A coalition of Kurdish organisations are planning a campaign of support. This is still ongoing.
19 April: Detainees on hunger strike at Colnbrook are told that they are not allowed to use the chapel, IT room, library or shop.
18 April: More than 300 detainees in Harmondsworth detention centre, next to Colnbrook, have a mass one-day food refusal, in protest at length of detention, and in solidarity with the protests in Colnbrook and Haslar.
17 April: A delegation of detainees at Colnbrook meet with a home office official to discuss their demands. He focuses more on individual cases, rather than the length and arbitrary nature of detention generally. They decide to do a further mass food refusal the following day, with the demand of a meeting with local MP John McDonnell.
17 April, evening: Detainees at Haslar stage a peaceful sit-in protest in the exercise yard, and refuse to go inside. Staff lock them out and call the mufti squad (prison riot police) who search them all before allowing them back inside. During the night, 40 detainees are removed from Haslar and moved to Colnbrook, in order to try and contain the hunger strike. One man, whose name appeared in the Guardian newspaper, is badly beaten by guards. At the time of writing, several of these men remain on hunger strike.
15 April: 125 Detainees at Haslar detention centre near Portsmouth begin a food refusal in protest at length of detention, conditions at Haslar, and in solidarity with the protests at Colnbrook. The home office deny that the protests at Colnbrook and Haslar are connected, but detainees in both centres are in touch with each other by phone, and claim that the protest at Haslar is a direct result of those at Colnbrook.
13 April: Most of Colnbrook refuse food in protest at length of detention. Those on hunger strike continue.
12 April: 2 men at Colnbrook who have been doing telephone interviews with journalists, are put in isolation cells, and refused phone calls and visits for over a week. One man alleges he is beaten and told by guards: ‘why did you talk to journalists and bring trouble for this company’. Colnbrook is run by Serco.
10 April: 150 detainees at Colnbrook refuse food, with some declaring that they are on hunger strike [report]. 97 detainees issue a statement demanding an end to their detention. Many of them have been detained for over 6 months, some for up to 3 years. One man has been in detention since 2001.
9 April: Many Colnbrook detainees refused to leave the chapel after their Pastor, who had spoken via mobile phone to the demo the day before, was punished by being put in isolation, then moved to Harmondsworth, and wasn't present at the service.
8 April: 120 detainees at Colnbrook begin refusing food during a demonstration outside Harmondsworth & Colnbrook detention centres, near Heathrow, where detainees are prevented from going to windows or accessing the exercise yard, to see and hear the demonstration.
London, 29 April: NoBorders London unfurls a banner at the Love Music Hate Racism event [report].
Birmingham, 28 April: The local NoBorders group called a demonstration at the Home Office signing centre in Solihull.
Cardiff, 20 April: A solidarity demonstration took place in Queen St, the main shopping street. About 30 people and a banner gathered to hand out flyers and talk to people about the situation of the hunger strikers and immigration detention and borders in general.
London, 13 April: Around 20 people demonstrated outside the Home Office building in central London. The demonstration had been authorized under sec 132 of SOCPA with many restrictions: the authorities put a cap of a maximum of 25 protesters.
- 1 May: The Guardian - "Detainee 'beaten' after talking to press" (Eric Allison)
- 24 Apr: The Voice - "Asylum Hell" (Andrew Clunis)
- 19 Apr: Independent - "Seven still on hunger strike after asylum centre protests" (Terri Judd)
- 18 Apr: African HIV Policy Network - "Asylum hunger strike spreads"
- 18 Apr: Guerilla News Network - "Resisting Blair's Corporate-run Gulag" (Sam Urquhart)
- 18 Apr: Gulf Times - "Hunger strike by refugees" (AFP)
- 18 Apr: 24dash.com - "Riot officers called to immigration centre protest" (Jon Land)
- 17 Apr: Guardian - "Second holding centre hit by hunger strike" (Eric Allison)
- 17 Apr: Yahoo News UK - "Immigrants at British detention centre on hunger strike" (AFP)
- 16 Apr: Hillingdon Times - "‘We have decided to die with hunger’" (Rachel Sharp)
- 15 Apr: guardian - "Detainees on hunger strike at removal centre vow to die" (Eric Allison)
- 15 Apr: bbc.co.uk - "Immigration hunger strike denied"
- 13 Apr: IRR - "Demonstration and hunger strike against immigration detention" (Tim Cleary)
- 11 Apr: greatreporter.com - "UK refugees on hunger strike after 'assaults'" (Jason Parkinson)
- 10 Apr: indymedia uk - "Hunger Strike in Colnbrook Detention Centre" (NoBorders)
- 8 Apr: indymedia uk - "Noborders Demo at Harmondsworth Detention Centre" (imc uk)
NoBorders / imc uk