Immigration guards are grappling with a wave of protest sweeping British detention centres this week, as hundreds of asylum-seekers detained at three high-security facilities organise hunger-strikes against draconian Home Office policies.
Staff cancelled negotiations planned for yesterday at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) about a petition issued by detainees during a mass sit-down protest in the exercise yard on Friday.
“No one from the Home Office came to meet and discuss the petition as promised,” said Unity’s caseworker Jasmine Sallis. Instead, dozens of detainees involved with Friday’s demonstration are being issued with deportation orders.
However, the unrest is already spreading to the adjacent Colnbrook detention centre. Guards broke up an organising meeting of 40 detainees inside Colnbrook yesterday and put five ‘ringleaders’ in isolation cells, before moving them to another secure facility. Supporters have since been unable to contact the men.
At 10pm last night a group of 20 men detained at Brook House IRC staged a protest in the courtyard and refused to return to their cells.
A petition written by detainees at Harmondsworth on Friday was faxed to supporters and circulated on twitter. Detainees are today calling on lawyers and NGOs to raise their demands with judges and politicians.
Local MP John McDonnell will raise the situation at Harmondsworth with ministers.
Notes for Editors:
Contact The Unity Centre
0141 427 7992
0744 861 7766
A list of the detainees’ demands is available here
Photographs are available from Peter Marshall