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Solidarity across prison walls: Harmondsworth demo for Prince

A No Borderer | 07.11.2012 12:58 | Migration | Repression

Following the suspicious death in Harmondsworth last Tuesday, and the release of an important statement by Ghanaian detainees claiming the man had been beaten, stripped naked, and left to die in an isolation block (see here:, No Borders and other groups held a noise demo outside the detention centres.

Detainees at the window. Photo by Peter Marshall
Detainees at the window. Photo by Peter Marshall

It was beautiful. In these highly securitized centres, its generally very difficult to get anywhere close to the blocks where detainees are held. However, yesterday, armed with megaphones, horns and whistles, we managed to walk the full perimeter of Harmondsworth and make our presence known to people inside.

Detainees piled up at the windows, fists were waving and banging at the impermeable glass. Our cries of "freedom, azadi, hurriya, liberte!", were echoed on the inside as call-and-response chants erupted into a wave of whistles and chanting across the blocks.

Detainees flooded the exercise yard and chanted some more until they were moved by guards. Over the megaphone, we expressed messages of solidarity and urged detainees to call us if they wanted to speak out about their conditions and about the death of the man known as Prince Ofosu who died there last week.

What followed was a flurry of phone calls from detainees - many in great distress about their own situation - and all telling similar stories about Prince. Prince was reportedly taken out of view of cameras, beaten, stipped naked, and left in an unheated cell until his body was found. The guard was reportedly told to get rid of his clothes to hide the evidence.

Another common theme from callers was self-harm and suicide attempts, and sleeping through detention on sleeping pills routinely prescribed for an array of mental health conditions and inevitable anxiety.

Other disturbing news emerged which we are currently investigating, details of which we will post here if we get hold of more information.

People were very happy to see that people actually care, will acknowledge the injustice of detention and deportation, and will listen to their stories.

Eventually, the police had enough of all this love and solidarity, and decided to read some notice for us to leave (couldn't hear over all the chanting as his megaphone was smaller than ours. Ha!).

Deciding that our main aim of reaching out to detainees had been achieved, campaigners left but remain in contact with many detainees.

Footage of the day will be posted shortly.

This death will not be silenced! Justice for Prince Ofosu!

A No Borderer
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07.11.2012 13:18

*Over a dozen detainees claim guards were responsible for man's death in Harmondsworth

Tel: 07448607725

- UKBA still refuse to disclose name and nationality of the detainee found dead last week and fail to refute claims of mistreatment
- Detainees allege man was named Prince Ofosu, 31 years old, from Ghana
- At least a dozen detainees allege man was assaulted in isolation unit,
stripped naked and left to die

[Detainees are happy to speak to the media. Call 07448607725 to be put through to them]

At least a dozen detainees in Harmondsworth detention centre are claiming that the detainee found dead in the centre on Tuesday 30th October [1] was in fact subject to brutal mistreatment by GEO staff. Speaking on the phone to campaigners from various groups, detainees are painting a picture of events that as of yet remain undisclosed by the UK Border Agency.

The detainees claim that the man found dead was Prince Ofosu, a 31 year-old Ghanaian national, who did not want to be deported. He was reportedly taken to an isolation block, out of view of cameras, was beaten by a GEO guard known only as 'Jim', was stripped naked and left in a cell without heating. His body was discovered 24 hours later. 'Jim' was reportedly told to remove his blood stained clothes to hide the evidence, and to request leave.

These details have been released in a joint statement [2] published by Ghanaian detainees in the centre, and has been corroborated by dozens of detainees of various nationalities currently detained there, as well as by a GEO guard working inside.

UK Border Agency have not refuted the allegations, but have stated that the man collapsed after being restrained [3].

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman have launched an inquest into the death, implying he died an unnatural death or under suspicious circumstances. The Ombudsman is expected to visit the centre tomorrow.

Some detainees fear they will face reprisals, such as a hastier deportation, if they discuss the matter. However, many are willing to speak to the media.

Detainees also describe current conditions in the centre as 'dire', with many people self-harming, having difficulty accessing legal representation, and simply being given sleeping pills for mental health conditions.

This is the 7th death known to have occurred in Harmondsworth, and the 17th in UK detention centres since 1989 [4].


No Borders London
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