Help us stop Harriet Anyangokolo’s deportation
to Uganda this Sunday 14 August
Harriet Anyangokolo is on the 22nd day of her hunger strike together with other Ugandan women held in Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre. The women, many of whom are rape survivors, are protesting against their deportation to Uganda as well as the conditions in detention. Ms Anyangokolo who started the hunger strike and is the spokeswoman for the hunger strikers, is due to be deported this Sunday.
Ms Anyangokolo was interviewed this morning on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour followed by Sian Evans of Women Against Rape which has been working to stop the deportation, and Alistair Burt MP who recently visited the hunger strikers in Yarl’s Wood. (You can listen to the Radio 4 interview on the BBC website and on Saturday’s Woman’s Hour Compendium at 4pm.) Ms Anyangokolo spoke movingly about the rape and other torture she suffered in Uganda because of her political activities against the dictatorship, and how she would rather take her own life than be sent back to face further torture. “They can take my body back, they will never take me,” she said. She also described the shameful conditions and sexual intimidation in Yarl’s Wood and how she tried to take her own life after a male guard entered her room late at night when she was in her underwear and again when she was naked, warning her not to tell anyone.
Sian Evans made clear that this sexist and racist treatment is widespread and can only lead to rape. Since Legal Action for Women issued an asylum rights Self-Help Guide*, WAR has been inundated with calls from women in detention. Vulnerable women are being forced onto planes with the most appalling brutality and regardless of the validity of their claim. Recently a woman was deported to Nigeria in handcuffs and with her feet tied – she had a good case but despite calls to 17 legal firms, no lawyer could be found to represent her. Alistair Burt agreed that the situation was extremely serious, that good lawyers were hard to find, that many lawyers took advantage, charging women while doing no work so that women were deported without their cases having been heard.
An application for judicial review of Ms Anyangokolo’s case was lodged with the High Court this morning as the Home Office has not responded to further evidence submitted by her lawyer. As a result Ms Anyangokolo’s flight on Sunday should be stopped. But instead Ms Anyangokolo was told she was about to be moved to Colnbrook Detention Centre near Heathrow. She was tricked into going into an office alone where five officials told her she was to be taken to the secure unit at Yarl’s Wood in preparation for her deportation. When she refused to go the officers said that others would come to their help to take her there, so Ms Anyangokolo was forced to collect her things whilst other women were locked into their rooms. She was not even allowed to collect her Bible from a friend’s room and was taken to the secure unit.
It was only after the intervention of Alistair Burt MP that her transfer to Colnbrook was stopped and that she was allowed out of the secure unit where she was being held in isolation. But instead of being returned to the wing with the other hunger strikers, Ms Anyangakolo has been sent to the Induction Unit run by GSL, the private company which runs Yarl’s Wood, for “operational safety” reasons.
Ms Anyangakolo has now been told that she will not be deported on Sunday, but her lawyer has not received written confirmation of this so she remains in danger. We can see no “operational safety” reasons for her being deprived of the care and support of the women around her. It is shocking that the private company responsible for the terrible conditions that Ms Anyangakolo has exposed should be at liberty to punish her in this way.
There is no doubt that Ms Anyangokolo will be even more vulnerable in Uganda now she has spoken so bravely about the torture she suffered. She must not be deported. She must be released from detention immediately.
Please help save Ms Anyangokolo and the other hunger strikers. Your calls could be decisive. Send us a copy of any fax or email your write to the Home Office.
Write immediately to:
Immigration Minister Tony McNulty Fax: 020-7219 2417 Telephone: 020-7219 4108
The Women and Equality Unit, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET
Telephone: 0207 215 5000 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yarl's Wood Centre Manager, Ray Reveley
Telephone: 01234 821000 Fax: 01234 217438
Alistair Burt MP Fax 01234 314 691 or 020 7219 1740 Email: email@example.com
Send a copy of your letters to us, and to Harriet Harman (Solicitor General)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com;
Fax 0207 271 2430 or Tel: 0207-219 2057.
For more information contact: Legal Action for Women
Crossroads Women's Centre PO Box 287 London NW6 5QU
Tel: 020 7482 2496 minicom/voice Fax: 020 7209 4761; 07958 152 171
* For Asylum Seekers and their Supporters – A Self-Help Guide Against Detention and Deportation is available from LAW
Legal Action for Women