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Harmodsworth detainees protest, 1st April 2008

solidarity with the detainees! | 01.04.2008 20:17 | No Border Camp 2007 | Anti-racism | Migration | London

Since this morning at 9am, all - or the majority at least- of immigration detainees at Harmondsworth removal centre have being refusing food and have been in peaceful occupation of the courtyard.
'We are human beings, we want to be treated with dignity we shall stay in the coutyard until our demands are heard.'

For updates:

Benjamin Osa-Iduma
From Nigeria, all his family are here.

''They give us food you won't give to a dog
Some people are here for 18 months or more without having commited a crime
some people want to go back and they are held here
some want to be released
I came at 14 after my grandmaother died to join my famliy: 3 sisters 2 brothers my father and my stepmum. They are all British and I have got a British born son too. I have no family left in Nigeria.
I went to to school and college, now I am at South Bank University studying computer technology and electronic engineering.
I have got a partner and we are living together with our little son. She is Nigerian and has Indefinite Leave to Remain
My asylum claim was refused and I have been in detention for 3 months. They say I would abscond if they release me but how could I abscond? I got family!
We don't need better conditions, more facilities or more education, we need out of detention.
We forwarded a letter to the MP (Mc Donnell)
We have not eaten since 9am, we have been out in courtyard since.
We want the press to come here''.

Alimamy Koroma
Former unaccompied minor fleeing torture and violence in Sierra Leone.

''We are tired of inhumane treatement
The protest started yesterday and is going to continue.
It is a peaceful protest in the courtyard.
Everybody is here, 300 people (he estimates).
They are denying asylum to people who needs protection without giving them the opportunity to prove their cases. Legal representation is of bad quality and some legal representatives work for the Home Office, not in the interest of the asylum seekers.
In the meantime people are kept in detention, some have been there up to 21 months.
The food is disgusting.
The medical facilities are appalling.
Some people have mental problems and should not be kept with the others and some are going crazy because they lock them up too long in deteintion.
We are not treated like human beings.
The fast track system is unjust and unfair, it is not practical becuse it gives decisions in 5 days and two days to appeal. People cannot prepare they cases in such short time
Some people are in fear to go back to their countries where they were persecuted because of their sexuality, political opinion or religion, some are victims of torture, that's why they are seeking asylum and the UK are sending them back.
There are not time limits to detention, some people go crazy.
We wrote a petition and signed it and we sent it to the European Court of Human Rights, John McDonnell MP, mayoral candidate Brian Paddick who promised to take our complints to the shadow Home Secretary and to the Liberal Democrats.
In the petition we are saying that the asylum process is not fair;
that they are keeping us in detention for too long;
that evidence we show including torture marks is not taken in considreation.
It is mental torture and people are going mad because of detention.
In Sierra Leon there is civil war and political unrest. I was beaten and tortured by the police because of my political opinions, as a result I got scars all over my body. The immigration judge just said I cut myself, but how could I cut myself all over? It does not make sense.
There are other torture survivors in detention, they are not referred to the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture and they are denied the treatement they should get.
I am on the fast track.
When I arrived in UK I was 17. Now I am 21. I was in the hands of who brought me here so I could not apply for asylum. I applied for asylum in January 2008: they took me to detention straight away and put me on the fast track. They gave me 5 days to prepare my case and two days to appeal. I lost the case.
The Refugee Legal Centre sent a psychologist who diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and said I should not be in detention, but others have worst mental health problems than me: people who have been tortured and go mad because they are detained.
People get beaten at airport and they come back full of injuries. People are deported illegally when they still have cases pending.
We are human beings, we want to be treated with dignity we shall stay in the coutyard until our demands are heard''.

C. Edwards
Married with four children, he went to prison and was his first offence: possession of a small quantity (£60 worth) of cocaine with intent to supply. He got a 30 months sentence, done 15 months and now they want to deport him to Jamaica.

''What I really find disturbing is that I cannot leave my children: when I was little my father went off to America for 1 year and that affected me very deeply, so I know what I am talking about. The main problem is that I am a risk to the public, according to Immigration, but before I left prison they gave me a paper with a stamp that shows I am unlikely to break curefew etc: the prison sevices have assesed me as not being a risk to the public. I did a lot of training and education in prison and I was looking forward to get a job once released.The reason for me offending in the first place was that I was unemployed, my wife's benefit money went missing and I borrowed some money from a 'friend' to pay rent and bills: later I got threatened when could not give the money back in time!
I left Jamiaca because of problems. When I was in prison my mother was attacked in Jamica. The police signed a statement saying my life will be in danger there. My wife had a nervus breakdown and suffers from depression, she cannot go to Jamaica and it would be dangerous for the children''.

solidarity with the detainees!


Update 11pm

01.04.2008 21:53

Some detainees, they say about a hundred, are still in the courtyard and refusing to go back in. They intend to spend the night in the courtyard. They are gettig water. Some have duvets and warm clothes. Very few people have eaten, most are still refusing food since 9am.

solidarity with the detainees!