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Hunger strike in Campsfield as deportee takes his own life in Iraq

imc-uk-features | 14.08.2008 10:25 | Migration

Update: The Campsfield detainees ended their hunger strike "before anyone suffers ill effects from the hunger strike."

Some 50 refugees held at Campsfield immigration prison, near Oxford, are on hunger strike in protest at their continued detention. The hunger strike was started on August 9th by 13 Iraqi-Kurdish detainees, who demanded that forcible deportations to Northern Iraq are stopped. This is the second such protest at Campsfield this year and one of many throughout the UK detention estate.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi-Kurdish refugee has taken his own life after being forcibly returned to Iraqi Kurdistan. Hussein Ali shot himself in his home in Sulaimania on August 10th, two days after he was deported to Erbil via Jordan. An emergency demonstration in support of the hunger strikers, called by the Campaign to Close Campsfield, was held outside the immigration prison on August 12th.

Reports: Campsfield detainees on hunger strike | Unacceptable death of Hussein Ali | Two more deaths of asylum seekers

Related: Riot at Campsfield Detention Centre | 26 migrants escape immigration prison in Oxford | Detained Mothers on Hunger Strike in Yarl's Wood | Once again, Harmondsworth hunger strike broken violently | Dozens of Iraqi Kurds deported.. again

Links: National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigs | Campaign to Close Campsfield | International Federation of Iraqi Refugees | Coalition to Stop Deportations to Iraq | No Borders UK

banners on the razorwire fence
banners on the razorwire fence

On August 9th, campaigners received reports from detainees inside Campsfield saying that 13 Iraqi-Kurdish asylum seekers detained at Campsfield immigration prison are refusing food in protest at their continuing detention and demanding that forcible deportations to Iraqi Kurdistan (northern Iraq) are stopped. Later reports confirmed that some 50 other Campsfield detainees from around the world have joined the hunger strike. A message from the hunger strikers read:

"We are protest[ing] because we are human beings; we are not criminal. We are locked in the cell like prisoners. We want freedom and justice."

The UK is one off the few European countries to forcibly 'remove' asylum seekers to Iraq. In 2005, an agreement was reportedly signed between the Iraqi Government, the Kurdish Regional Government and the UK Home Office to accept forcibly returned asylum seekers. Since then, over 500 rejected asylum seekers have been deported to Iraqi Kurdistan on special charter flights.

The argument the Home Office has used to deport Iraqi-Kurdish asylum seekers to Kurdistan (northern Iraq) is that the northern parts of the country, unlike the rest, are "relatively safe". This is, of course, totally unfounded. In its position paper on Iraq, UNHCR recently said that the security situation in the three northern governorates (Sulaymaniyah, Erbil and Duhok), "remains tense and unpredictable" and that "careful consideration" must be given before any returns are carried out.

Who's responsible?

A day after the hunger strike started, an Iraqi-Kurdish asylum seeker, who was forcibly removed to Northern Iraq after 50 days in detention, took his own life. The International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR) was told by a detainee in Oakington detention centre that his friend, Hussein Ali, shot himself in his home in Sulaimania on August 10th, two days after he was deported to Erbil via Jordan.

Hussein Ali was 35 years old. He had arrived in the UK six years earlier but his asylum claim was rejected. Whilst in detention, he wrote many letters to the Home Office asking to remain in the UK but all fell on deaf ears.

This is the second this year suicide by Iraqi-Kurdish refugees on return from the UK. The other man, known as Heman, hanged himself from a tree shortly after return. Another Iraqi-Kurdish refugee, Kadir Salih, was kidnapped last month in front of his house in an area controled of Patriotic of Union Kurdistan party shortly after returning home. His daughter was so distressed at his disappearance that she committed suicide. After five years of fighting for asylum and not being able to work, Kadir had given up and signed on the IOM's 'voluntary return' scheme.

Another Iraqi refugee died from cancer on August 3rd. Mohammad Hussain had stomach cancer that went undetected and untreated while he was detained in Lindholme immigration prison near Doncaster (see here for more details).

Meanwhile, Iranian refugee Nadir Zarebee hanged himself in a Manchester park on August 5th after being asked to leave his home in Trafford by his private asylum accommodation providers, MNQ. An emergency protest was called last on August 9th by the International Organisation of Iranian Refugees (IOIR) and supported by the North West Asylum Seekers Defence Group (NWASDG) and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI). Protesters gathered in Piccadilly Gardens and then marched to the BBC offices, who protesters said censor the "racist treatment and brutal human rights abuses of migrants and refugees."



Update on the Hunger Strike in Campsfield IRC

14.08.2008 20:51

The hunger strikers remain resolute in their determination to continue with their struggle. They are all very concerned about the deaths of those who have recently been returned to Iraqi/Kurdistan and are determined that they will not follow them.

Hata Najem has been given a date to travel on 3/9/08. He has been in the UK for 8

Ali Ahmed Hassan is reported to now be very sick, but has apparently only seen the doctor once.

The treatment all the men are receiving is described as poor. Fazzel has said that one guard in particular, * ******, has been verbally abusive to the detainees, telling them that he's happy they're not eating as it's a saving to the taxpayer and giving detainees quite graphic descriptions of what he would like to do to them if there were no CCTV in the centre.

Mr. ****** has also been alleged to have physically pushed detainees and verbally abused them for requesting guards' ID details.

The general disrespectful attitude of the staff is described as central to the detainees' decision to go on hunger strike and Fazzel describes, for example, a customary practice of detainees' meals being kicked across the floor to them by guards, rather than passed by hand.

Fazzel also claims that a proposed BBC local radio interview was blocked by Campsfield management this morning; he claims that the reporter has been given misleading information to the effect that the detainees have criminal convictions. They do not.


The Hunger Strike at Campsfield IRC continues

15.08.2008 15:08

Speaking to some of the detainees at midday today, they were all resolute to continue refusing food, until their basic demands are met: released from detention and to be recognised as refugees.

One detainee managed to get on to the roof of Campsfield IRC yesterday but came down after a number of hours. He is now in the Health Care unit at the detention centre.

Spokesperson for the Kurdish hunger strikers Fazzel Abdul said: "Without any reason we are being held here and they are trying to deport us to the most dangerous country in the world. We want people to listen to us. We are refusing all food and water and we will keep going. It is better to be dead than to return to Iraq."



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Campsfield asylum seekers end hunger strike Sunday 17 August

19.08.2008 09:12

The hunger strikers in Campsfield House ended their Hunger strike following visits from International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR) representatives Dashty Jamal and Aso Goran. The Iraqi asylum seekers started the hunger strike on Saturday 9 August demanding an end to forcible deportations to Iraq and the release of all Iraqi Kurdish asylum seekers from detention.However they are ending the hunger strike before any one suffers ill effects from the hunger strike Fazzel Abdul the spokes person for the hunger strikers said this does not mean an end to the campaign. We are finishing the hunger strike at this time whilst we are still all healthy. We do not want anyone to have health problems following the hunger strike.

The 13 Kurdish asylum seekers thanked everybody who supported them particularly fellow detainees in Campsfield who had joined the hunger strike from countries such as: Iran, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and the Congo.Fazzel said we know we are not alone and that we have the support of many Refugee, Human Right organisations and campaigners.Thank you again for your continuing support. The campaign to end forcible deportations to Iraq does not end here we still need you support and ask you to write to the Home Office (details below) calling for an end to end the forcible deportation to any part of Iraq.

Please send letters of protest to:

Fax number: Fax: 020 7035 4745
Jacqui Smith

Home Secretary

2 Marsham St

London SW1P

(it would be better to write the names and Home Office reference numbers of the detainees)

For more information please contact International Federation of Iraqi Refugees IFIR:PO.BOX1575,ILFOD, IG1 3BZ, LONDON UK Tel:0044 7856032991

International Federation of Iraqi Refugees
- Homepage: .