Yesterday over 150 prisoners in Harmondsworth detention centre occupied the main courtyard with a sit down protest and began a hunger strike, issuing a number of demands including an end to the cruel ‘Fast Track’ asylum system (see below for full details). Eventually the Home Office agreed to negotiate and a meeting took place between delegates of the hunger strikers and three Home Office officials. The Home Office said that they will give a reply to the demands on Tuesday.
In light of this, the protestors agreed to suspend their hunger strike whilst they wait for the Home Office reply.
The detainees want to emphasise that their protest has been peaceful and they want to give the Home Office the chance to show democracy working. They continue to call for solidarity and for us to help spread their words beyond the prison walls.
For more information please contact The Unity Centre on 0141 427766 OR 07448 617766. We can redirect journalists to detainees.
Here is the statement signed by all the protesting detainees on Friday 2 May and handed to the prison authorities:
As to resolve the following issues:
* Home Office fast track system [NB: system in which refugees are immediately detained whilst their asylum claims are processed]
* Healthcare in the detention centre
* Detainees are awaiting to travel to their home countries for months, without any response from the home office, when have agreed to voluntary return. One person has been waiting for 17months.
* People who were transferred from other centres on a promise for interview or high commission face to face interviews are still waiting to send back to their centre such as people from scotland are still stuck here without lawyers, guests.
* we are not getting enough legal help, in some cases no legal advice at all our important faxes and documents are waiting sometimes for four to five hours in the IRC office before they reach us.
* We need to resolve this face to face by the official immigration staff who record this complaint – this petition and peaceful protest- then we will consider to withdraw this hunger strike.
We are block C and D, and also A and B about to start peaceful protest and hunger strike.
Previous reports from the Harmondsworth protest:
On Harmondsworth, one of Europe’s largest migration prisons: http://detentionaction.org.uk/aboutus/about-harmondsworth-detention-centre
On the cruel ‘Detained Fast Track’ system of imprisoning asylum seekers:
On the background to the major protests in 2006: