Shut It Down ‘Yarl’s Wood’

“Shut it down, shut it down Yarl’s Wood”

04/01/16 Yarlswood, 08/01/16 PixelatedOn the 3rd of December 2016, we travelled to Bedfordshire, in support of the Women & Families held Captive at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, a former military research facility intended to provide migrants with shelter and care prior to their deportation from the England, however its history reveals through a series of reports, undercover investigations, and testimonies from past and current detainees, that Yarl’s Wood is a hell hole.

“In some cases, women have become so distraught by their treatment that they have turned to suicide, throwing themselves off of stairwells, slashing their wrists, or hanging themselves. Serco, the private company employed by the UK Home Office to manage Yarl’s Wood, has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing. But in 2014, the UN’s special rapporteur on violence against women was blocked from entering the centre, and Yarl’s Wood remains closed to journalists. Despite reports of ‘vast failings’, the Home Office renewed Serco’s contract for Yarl’s Wood some months later, to the tune of £70 million.” ~Cole Peters

We heard inspirational speeches from Aisha (ex-detainee) and Mabel Gawanas

As soon as we entered Yarl’s Wood we were greeted by passionate activist Shahd Abusalama from Gaza. Being a refugee herself Shahd resonates with many of the women at Yarl’s Wood and shares their pain, but assured us that “Injustice cannot last forever”  ~Shahd. We briefly mentioned the amazing work of Ahmad Safi of PAL (Palestinian Animal League).
Thousands of people from all walks of life were there supporting the cause and no doubt quite a few undercover cops that weren’t. When we attempted to circle the prison we were followed by the police ‘liaison officers’ who explained we were out of the designated protest zone and that we should rejoin the crowd otherwise ‘we were trespassing’ and that they would follow us until we were in their safe zone.
Later on however the crowd marched round to the main entrance. Not long after this the Armed Police were brought in, and once again it appears they used violence against the women. Similar behaviours have been spoken about by the United Nations special rapporteur Rashida Manjoo who was consequently barred from Yarl’s Wood death camp following her visit to the UK in April 2014. Change has got to come.

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