The demonstration on Saturday was attended by 300 people including many immigrants. While the demonstration was ongoing, inmates inside Colnbrook were forbidden access to the exercise yard and prevented by guards from looking out of windows to see or hear the demonstration. It has been reported by the detainees that some were beaten and locked in their cells. In response to this treatment, over 120 detainees refused food and water on Saturday. The hunger strike has continued and spread with detainees in all wings of Colnbrook participating. Some of them say they would rather die in Colnbrook than return to countries where they face further imprisonment, torture and possible death:
“The hunger strike in Colnbrook will go ahead until we're dead, because to deport us to our countries is like killing us. So we've decided to die with hunger” Patrick, a detainee on hunger strike.
The detainees have put their names to a paper that reads:
“Detention for immigration purposes can clearly be lawful given the very wide powers allowed under the immigration acts but it is subject to constraints as follows:
-It is only lawful if exercised for one of the purposes allowed under immigration law.
-It is only lawful if it is for a reasonable period of time.
-It is only lawful if the Home Secretary exercises reasonable expedition
If you have been detainee for more than six (6) weeks consecutively, and you wish to be included in the Judicial Review claim against the Secretary of State for the Home Office for our right to liberty according to the Human Rights Act 1998/ECHR,
International Law and Home Office's own policy on prolonged detention, please sign up below.”
97 signatures follow.
The hunger strikers have been subject to repression from Colnbrook’s management, with one man being locked in an isolation cell on Saturday night, and later removed to another detention centre. Detainees now hope they will be visited by a delegation from the home office to hear their demands for release.
Notes For Editors:
1. The demonstration on Saturday 8th April, was called by London No Borders, London Against Detention: Campaign to Close Heathrow Detention Centres, and The Square Occupied Social Centre. 300 people attended.
2. London No Borders can be contacted for more information on 020 7580 1552 / 07986 075 829 or email@example.com
3. Detainees inside Colnbrook and Harmondsworth have phone contact and are willing to do interviews.
4. Photographs and reports of the demonstration on Saturday can be found on www.indymedia.org.uk and http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/topics/migration/
5. Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) is one of ten removal centres across the UK and the latest to be added to the network. It is adjacent to Heathrow Airport. The building opened in September 2004 and has a capacity of 303 people. Colnbrook is managed by Premier Group on behalf of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.
6. Many of the people inside Colnbrook have been there for over 6 months, with some being detained for up to 18 months. There is no automatic bail review process for immigrants who are being detained.
7. In January, a detainee at Harmondsworth Detention Centre, 21 year old Bereket Johannes committed suicide. Fellow detainees responded with a one-day hunger strike and a written statement about their conditions and treatment in detention.
London No Borders