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Zimbabwean women behind the wire go on hunger strike

transmitter | 11.09.2007 18:29 | Migration | Birmingham

Five female detainees from Zimbabwe in Yarl's Wood detention centre have gone on hunger strike yesterday (Monday, 10 September). They are demanding to be released from detention.

They all need support/solidarity, so give them a ring:

1. Maud Lennard Kadango, room 260, 079 5145 1926
2. Zandile Sibanda, room a250a , 079 0980 6735
3. Pauline Chitekeshe, room a249a, 077 6822 5715
4. Rose Phekani, room a123, 077 9893 1943
5. Faina Pondesi, room a113, 079 3576 9050



Update on Zimbabwean 'Hunger Strikers' at Yarl's Wood

12.09.2007 08:08

On Monday evening, I had a telephone conversation with four of the
five Zimbabwean female detainees who are currently on hunger strike
in Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre. The detainees I spoke to
are: Faina Manuel Pondesi, Maud Kadangu Lennard, Zandile Sibanda and
Rose Phekani. (I will submit write-up of the details I gathered on
each of the women in separate emails.) They reported that there are
eight Zimbabwean women who are being held in Yarl's Wood at the

Faina Manuel Pondesi read to me the petition which the women who are
on hunger strike had, on the previous day, sent to the Home Office.
The petition was dated 9 August 2007 and it read:

We are failed asylum seekers and given the very desperate situation
in Zimbabwe which has been commented upon by the United Nations plus
all major countries including South Africa, we cannot condone the
return of us at this time. Please can you release us or hunger strike
on 10 September 2007.

Faina Pondesi, Maud Lennard, Zandile Sibanda and Rose Phekani, in
separate telephone conversations, all confirmed that this is what the
letter said and that they, together with Pauline Chitekeshe, signed
the petition. They also confined that they started the hunger strike
on Monday, September 10 and are going to stay on hunger strike until
their demands are met.

They all complain that they did not receive adequate legal
representation during the fast track process under which their
applications for political asylum were considered.

Faina Manuel Pondesi, Rose Phekani and Maud Lennard are Zimbabwean
nationals who used Malawian passports to come to the U.K. They have
no family, friends, relatives or support networks in Malawi where the
Home Office is planning to send them. They fear that the Malawian
government will pass them on into the hands of the Zimbabwean
authorities. (I have a statement from Matthew Nyashanu, the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) Secretary for Information and Publicity
(U.K. and Ireland) in which he points out that both the South African
and the Malawian governments are sending Zimbabweans who are deported
from the U.K. on to Zimbabwe and in which he is asking the British
government to reconsider its position. There is also some material
from Malawian newspapers which says more-or-less the same thing (I
will try and retrieve these and pass them on to you as well)).

The three women who hold Malawian passports reported that on Monday
evening they were called, separately, to meetings with Home Office
representatives in which they were given removal directions and a
letter which read:

I refer to your letter of 9 August 2007 in which you request
temporary admission/bail for yourself.

You are all detained because your asylum applications have been
considered under fast track procedures at Yarl's Wood. You have all,
already had your asylum applications refused and can be in no doubt
that the Secretary of State does not accept your claims. These
decisions to refuse you asylum have all been upheld by the AIT at
every stage of the appeal process. You therefore have little
incentive to respond to any terms of bail/temporary admission.

With regard to your specific fears of the country situation in
Zimbabwe, your concerns are noted and supported by objective
evidence. The Home Office published policy means that removals of
failed asylum seekers are not enforced to Zimbabwe and so I would
like to allay your fears of being forcibly returned. However, as the
Home Office plans to return you to Malawi (as your IS82's or
151A/B's) show, the country situation has no bearing in your

Yours faithfully

D Smith

Ambrose Musiyiwa
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