Saturday 8 April: 120 detainees at Colnbrook begin refusing food during a demonstration outside Harmondsworth & Colnbrook detention centres, near Heathrow, where detainees are prevented from going to windows or accessing the exercise yard, to see and hear the demonstration.
Sunday 9 April: Many Colnbrook detainees refused to leave the chapel after their Pastor, who had spoken via mobile phone to the demo the day before, was punished by being put in isolation, then moved to Harmondsworth, and wasn't present at the service.
Monday 10 April: 150 detainees at Colnbrook refuse food, with some declaring that they are on hunger strike [report]. 97 detainees issue a statement demanding an end to their detention. Many of them have been detained for over 6 months, some for up to 3 years. One man has been in detention since 2001.
Wednesday 12 April: 2 men at Colnbrook who have been doing telephone interviews with journalists, are put in isolation cells, and refused phone calls and visits for over a week. One man alleges he is beaten and told by guards: ‘why did you talk to journalists and bring trouble for this company’. Colnbrook is run by Serco.
Thursday 13 April: Most of Colnbrook refuse food in protest at length of detention. Those on hunger strike continue.
Saturday 15 April: 125 Detainees at Haslar detention centre near Portsmouth begin a food refusal in protest at length of detention, conditions at Haslar, and in solidarity with the protests at Colnbrook. The home office deny that the protests at Colnbrook and Haslar are connected, but detainees in both centres are in touch with each other by phone, and claim that the protest at Haslar is a direct result of those at Colnbrook.
Monday 17 April: A delegation of detainees at Colnbrook meet with a home office official to discuss their demands. He focuses more on individual cases, rather than the length and arbitrary nature of detention generally. They decide to do a further mass food refusal the following day, with the demand of a meeting with local MP John McDonnell.
Monday evening: Detainees at Haslar stage a peaceful sit-in protest in the exercise yard, and refuse to go inside. Staff lock them out and call the mufti squad (prison riot police) who search them all before allowing them back inside. During the night, 40 detainees are removed from Haslar and moved to Colnbrook, in order to try and contain the hunger strike. One man, whose name appeared in the Guardian newspaper, is badly beaten by guards. At the time of writing, several of these men remain on hunger strike.
Tuesday 18 April: More than 300 detainees in Harmondsworth detention centre, next to Colnbrook, have a mass one-day food refusal, in protest at length of detention, and in solidarity with the protests in Colnbrook and Haslar.
Wednesday 19 April: Detainees on hunger strike at Colnbrook are told that they are not allowed to use the chapel, IT room, library or shop.
Thursday 20 April: Around 20 Turkish Kurdish detainees begin hunger striking in Harmondsworth. A coalition of Kurdish organisations are planning a campaign of support. This is still ongoing.
Friday 21 April: A delegation of detainees at Colnbrook, meet again with a home office official who promises to consider all of their cases, particularly those of people who have been detained for a long time.
Sunday 23 April: Detainees at Colnbrook report that many of them have ended their hunger strike, and await a meeting with a home office minister.
Monday 24 April: Detainees within Colnbrook have formed a movement called 'Cry Freedom' within detention centres, to demand an end to detention [update].
Thursday 27 April: Some detainees within Colnbrook still refusing food [update].
e-mail: noborderslondon at riseup.net