Image from BBC UK
On Saturday 3rd December, the Movement for Justice (MFJ) is holding its tenth demonstration at Yarl’s Wood – the UK’s main immigration detention centre for women. With busses from London, Nottingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Oxford, Birmingham, Bristol, Coventry and Glasgow, Lancaster and other cities, this National Demonstration will be a mass protest by women detained inside and former detainees, asylum seekers, immigrants and anti-racist youth and students outside, building and maintaining the movement of resistance to shut down the detention system.
People from across the UK are travelling to Bedfordshire to call for the closing of Yarl’s Wood, which detains 410 people, mainly women and families. This is part of a long-term campaign to shut down Serco-run Yarl’s Wood and all detention centres. Since opening in 2001, Yarl’s Wood detention centre has been mired in scandal, and subject to intense criticism from human rights organisations for alleged sexual abuse, poor healthcare and high suicide rates.
One of the protesters stated: “As the UK’s only women’s detention centre, Yarl’s Wood has been proven to be rife with instances of racism, sexual abuse and gendered violence. It’s important that we come together in solidarity with the detainees and call for the closure of Yarl’s Wood & other immigration detention centres, and freedom for those held in them.”
Yarl’s Wood has been condemned time and time again, most recently in the unannounced inspection by the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, which concluded “Yarl’s Wood is rightly a place of national concern”. MPs have called for a time limit on detention, report after report has condemned the detention of pregnant women, elderly, sick and disabled people and the UK stands alone in Europe as the only one with no time limit on detention.
The women of Yarl’s Wood are demanding freedom, they have been organising inside the detention centre through petitioning, demonstrating, defending each other from deportation and continuing to wear hand customised T-Shirts demanding their freedom and asserting “WE ARE NOT ANIMALS” (a reference to undercover footage obtained by channel 4 news that saw a guard referring to the women as animals).
As well as calling for the closure of racist and abusive detention centres such as Yarl’s Wood, the activists use this demo as an opportunity to express solidarity for the women being held there and to draw public attention to the injustices they are suffering.
In a Post Brexit and post Trump climate, it is more important than ever to stop the scapegoating of immigrants.
Shut down Yarl’s Wood!
Right to remain!
Defend Immigrant Rights!
Shut Down ALL Detention Centres!