Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Solidarity with Campsfield House hunger strikers

Migrants at the Campsfield House detention centre yesterday began a hunger strike in protest at their prolongued detention and ill treatment.

According to their statement;
147 detainees are staging a protest by refusing meals at Campsfield immigration removal centre. The protest erupted as a result of the treatment of detainees in detention centres especially for people who have been detained for a long period of time. We continue to refuse meals indefinitely for our voices to be heard.

Some of us detainees have been detained for over 3 years with no prospect of removal or any evidence of future release. There is no justification whatsoever for detaining us for such period of time. Our lives incidentally have been stalled without any hope of living a life, having a family or any future. More often than not, we are been detained even when our family (wife and children) are resident in the United Kingdom, depriving us of having a life with our family. We the detainees are also humans.

In certain cases, some of us are tortured and even face death or mental distress. On 14 April 2010, a detainee of Kenya national Eliud Nyenze died at Oakington IRC due to negligence. Mr. Nyenze, age 40, had a heart attack, requested for painkillers, repeatedly and kept crawling around the floor in pain before he died.

Detainees are currently undergoing mental stress with some of us developing mental problems on a monthly basis. We are issued removal directions without given enough time for an appeal.

It has become a habit by the UK Border Agency to use force in enforcing removal of detainees who have a pending Judicial Review without giving appropriate time or consideration to our case and forcing our removal before our cases are concluded. In some situations, we are not given enough time to appeal against the decision which breaches our rights under Article 6 of the ECHR. Our liberty and security has been taking away.

We as foreign nationals are often been criminalised for the purpose of detention and removal as the law under the European Convention of Human Rights permits the removal of foreigners who have established there lives in the United Kingdom and are a treat to national security. Foreign nationals are now been sent to prison for 12 months custodial sentence or more prompting the deportation of such individual. Removals are enforced on specially chartered flights with security personnel who abuse and torture detainees in the process. Detainees are restrained, strapped, beating and forced on the airplane.

On 26 July 2010, one of the detainee at Campsfield attempted suicide due to the level of treatment received at the detention centre.

The Amnesty International has also reported that our detention breaches the internationally recognised human rights.

On a regular basis, we are tortured, restrained, strapped like animals and beating to effect removal. This cannot be lawful given that there is provision within the ECHR convention that prohibits torture both mentally and physically.

We painfully ask that the government, the house of parliament, the house of common, the parliamentarians and all concerned to rise to our aid and address these issues that affects not only our lives and our future but the lives and future of the thousands of our families who are constantly under pain and torture.
This comes just a month after the report (PDF) by Dame Anne Owers, former chief inspector of prisons, who voiced that asylum-seekers should not be jailed.

It is also six months since the Yarls Wood hunger strike. Though those who took part are now embroiled in "a legal battle to gain official recognition that the protest even took place," as well as "to secure an inquiry into their allegations of violence and racial abuse by guards."

The refusal to acknowledge events continues. UK Border Agency deputy chief executive Jonathan Sedgwick claims the new hunger strikers "still have access to food from the on site shop and vending machines."

He goes on to assert that "staff are monitoring the situation closely and listening to the detainees' concerns. All detainees have access to legal representation and 24-hour medical care."

However, the history of hunger strikes, riots, and even a suicide cast doubt on these assertions.

As a spokesperson for Medical Justice, which has monitored detainee's health at the centre, said: "It's no surprise that detainees are on hunger strike.

"Independent doctors have visited detainees who are imprisoned despite not being accused of any crime. The damage to mental health of prolonged and indefinite immigration detention that the doctors have seen is so extensive that the only solution is to close these detention centres down."