LEADERS of Christian and Jewish Faiths called upon the Government to stop detaining the children of asylum seekers in letters to the national press last week.

The Most Rev Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, The Rt Rev John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and Susan Seymour, Clerk, Meeting for Sufferings, The Religious Society of Friends are among prominent Christians who signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph calling for ‘an immediate end to the unnecessary and inhumane practice of imprisoning children, babies and young people in immigration removal centres.’ Continue reading “FAITH LEADERS CONDEMN DETENTION POLICY”

A matter of conscience: hunger strikers at Yarl’s Wood

Frances Laing reports on the women’s hunger strike that started on 5 February

Activists show their solidarity with the hunger strikers. | Frances Laing

On Friday 5 February women detained at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire started a hunger strike. It involved over eighty women who were locked up at the centre.

The following Monday the Black Women’s Rape Action Project – who support women at Yarl’s Wood – published a report that alleged that the hunger strikers had suffered brutal recriminations and had been beaten by guards and subjected to racist abuse:

‘Over fifty women are currently trapped in an airless hallway in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. On Friday 5 February they began a hunger strike. Today they were herded into the hallway where they have been left there for over two hours without access to water or toilets. Four women, including an asthma sufferer, have fainted. Around 1.30 the guards came into the hallway and started to beat women. As we spoke to one woman she told us that someone was bleeding. One of the managers told the women they would regret what they have done; she called the Chinese women monkeys, and the Black women black monkeys. Four other women have been locked in other rooms for three hours, and have been told by room mates that their belongings have been packed. They are worried they face immediate removal even though their cases are still being considered. Fifteen women have been locked up in “Kingfisher”, the punishment wing. Continue reading “A matter of conscience: hunger strikers at Yarl’s Wood”

The voices of the hunger strikers

Frances Laing spoke to some of the hunger strikers over the weekend

Activists show their solidarity with the hunger strikers | Frances Laing

Denise McNeil is from Jamaica. Her brother was murdered there and she fears for her family. The mother of two spoke to me on the telephone from Yarl’s Wood Kingfisher segregation block on Saturday 20 February.

Denise seemed very weak and tired. She told me she was ‘so depressed’ and hadn’t been outside for two weeks. Sanitary conditions are ‘disgusting’ she said. ‘No water in the tap’, and the toilets were ‘not flushing’. She had been placed on suicide watch. As we spoke a male officer stood at the door. There were no proper medical facilities. Continue reading “The voices of the hunger strikers”

Quakers call for end to detention of child immigrants

Christians join forces to urge change to government practice of imprisoning children
Quakers in Britain have joined a call on the UK government to ‘bring an immediate end to the unnecessary and inhumane practice of imprisoning children, babies and young people in immigration removal centres’.

The demand was made in a letter published in the Daily Telegraph today and was signed by Susan Seymour, clerk of Meeting for Sufferings (a decision-making body of Quakers in Britain). The letter was written in response to the children’s commissioner report on children detained at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, which was published last week. Last year, a report by NHS paediatricians and psychologists, ‘Lorek et al’, reported in the international peer-reviewed journal, Child Abuse & Neglect, (October 2009) that children locked up at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre were ‘clearly vulnerable, marginalised, and at risk of mental and physical harm as a result of state sanctioned neglect.’

The doctors recorded children’s ‘sexualised behaviour’, older children’s tendency to wet their beds and soil their pants, the ‘increased fear due to being suddenly placed in a facility resembling a prison’, the ‘abrupt loss of home, school, friends and all that was familiar to them.’ Continue reading “Quakers call for end to detention of child immigrants”