On Saturday 8 August, a coalition of anti-detention activists gathered at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre to demand an end to immigration detention and rally in support for detainees protesting conditions inside. The demonstration, led byMovement for Justice, was the second major action organised at Yarl’s Wood this year.
A similar protest in June saw 400 protesters pull down fences to reach the inner walls of the centre. At the August 8 rally, protesters were allowed direct access to inner walls – which were kicked, shaken and daubed in graffiti by the end of the protest – and broadcast phone calls from inmates to the gathered crowd. I reported on the action for Red Pepper, and produced the video report below.
Yarl’s Wood is home to 410 people, the vast majority of whom are women, and located in rural Bedfordshire. The centre is arguably the most notorious of Britain’s twelve immigration detention centres, having been routinely condemned by independent assessors and the subject of multiple undercover investigations. Reports of physical and mental abuse, sexual assault, medical neglect and denial of access to legal guides have been followed by hunger strikes and other forms of resistance by women inside the centre.
Campaigners have vowed to return to Yarl’s Wood and continue campaigning for an end to government policies which allow for indefinite detention without trial, and continue to place detainees in the hands of routinely criticised for-profit groups such as G4S and Serco.