Statement from mass protest inside Harmondsworth immigration detention centre

8 March 2015, 7.25pm

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More than 200 people detained in Harmondsworth immigration detention centre are mobilising a hunger strike from 8.00am tomorrow, following a noise demonstration inside the centre today.

They are protesting for an end to:

•        indefinite deprivation of liberty and human rights
•        the use of “Detained Fast Track” [1]
•        bias and incompetence in case-handling by the Home Office
•        unlawful forced removals
•        stressful and degrading conditions which they describe as “mental torture” and which lead many to self-harm
•        overcrowded accommodation “comparable to animal cages”
•        refusals to return those who want to go back to their countries of origin

Similar protests have taken place this week by women inside Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre. The resistance follows this week’s release of undercover film footage of Yarl’s Wood and Harmondsworth by Channel 4 [2], and a parliamentary inquiry report into detention [3].

One protester said of the treatment by Harmondsworth staff: “It’s like we are animals. They are not giving us help or proper food. if anyone came inside and see conditions here they would see and release us.” Another said detention was “mentally torturing” them.

Protesters say staff are threatening them with prison if they do not stop protesting.

Note to editors:

1. The Detained Fast-Track system is an accelerated programme of detention in which cases are supposed to be resolved within 14 days. In July 2014 a High Court judgement ruled it had been operating illegally.

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