THEN In February Gordon Brown apologised for the UK’s past role in sending more than 130,000 children to former colonies where many suffered abuse.
He said: “To all those former child migrants and their families… we are truly sorry. They were let down.”
NOW In February Children’s Commissioner Sir Al Aynesley Green called for families with children not to be detained:
“We stand by our contention that arrest and detention are inherently damaging to children, and that Yarl’s Wood (an immigration removal centre) is no place for a child.”
THEN Gordon Brown said: “We are sorry that instead of caring for (those sent to colonies), this country turned its back.”
NOW The Children’s Commissioner said: “There’s a paradox between the way our citizen children are treated and the way those caught up in this dreadful situation are treated. I am angry.” http://tinyurl.com/Melanie-McFadyean
Church leaders called on the Government ‘to bring an immediate end to the unnecessary and inhumane practice of imprisoning children, babies and young people in immigration removal centres’. So did Colin Firth, Benjamin Zephaniah, Juliet Stevenson, Michael Morpurgo, Philip Pullman, Emma Thompson, Lenny Henry, Nick Hornby, and Emma Freud.
The ‘appalling effects’ to which protesters referred include
insomnia, bed wetting, weight loss, speech regression, depression and self-harm
as documented by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health, and Children’s Society.
What children said about being arrested at dawn…
“They broke our house”… “It’s not nice going to the toilet in front of an officer.”… ”I don’t like people seeing me when I’m getting dressed”…”I had 16 fish in a tank and everything, what’s happened to them?”… ”I didn’t think it was real, not real life.”
Children may also be separated from parents en route to Yarl’s Wood, and this can take many hours.
Government Minister Meg Hillier: “There are many pressures on children, and it is not clear that those pressures and problems arise merely from detention.” Doctors: children experienced, “a sudden deterioration in mental health due to the experience of detention …” Diane Abbot MP: “Meg Hillier may deny the extent of the poor conditions at the asylum detention centre, but I have seen them for myself… The vulnerable women and children at Yarl’s Wood deserve better.”
Who do we believe? Government ministers?
Or children, doctors, and an MP who visited the centre?
How long will it be before the Government is persuaded to change their ways? Will they then apologise?
- sign up to the Outcry! campaign against the detention of children at www.childrenssociety.org.uk
- write to your parliamentary candidates asking them their views and their party’s policy on child detention
- call on the Government to end the detention of children www.petitions.number10.gov.uk/NoChildDetention
Oxford Network for Justice and Peace is a community based independent peace group. For more information email email@example.com