In recent weeks the mainstream media spotlight has shone on the conditions faced by the hundreds of people in the UK who are imprisoned in immigration detention centres. A large number of detainees reacted to reports by staging protests (certainly not for the first time) from within detention, with many of these protests taking the form of hunger strikes. A new social media presence – Detained Voices – emerged and began to broadcast the experiences of migrant detainees taking part in these protests. Below is a selection of quotes from the Detained Voices blog. At the time of writing, protests continue across the majority of UK-based detention centres.
9 March 2015
“I’ve been in here with no windows for years. It’s not fair. It takes ages to see doctor and dentist. People are cutting themselves. Detained 14 months. Been in the UK for 9 years.”
“One guy tried to do suicide for three times once he jumped down from first floor but he saved then again he tried to cut himself but saved last time he drink soap but saved and now he is saying he will hang himself till death but officers and health care don’t care about any of us.”
“Things are not right in here. We decided to start the hunger strike from today, others have started yesterday. I think it’s over 100 people. We are not happy with the way things are being done.”
“I’ve been on medication for depression since before I was detained. And they are refusing to give it to me so they can say I’m fit to be detained. It’s not right. It’s been 6 months now.”
“We the detainees at Harmondsworth immigration centre are demanding that:
- All the detainees on fast track process are removed from fast track.
- The facilities are outdated and deteriorated.
- The health care are poor and detainees can’t see a doctor even in emergency.
- Detainees are detained unlawfully in the detention centres as if they are criminals.
- Detainees are given poor food.
- Physical and mental health of detainees are worst than they were before they came into detention.
- Detainees are treated as animals by the home office.
- Due to the vulnerability of many detainees in the centre, some of them cannot afford to hire lawyers and barrister to defend them, the only option they have is to use legal aid appointed by the home office to act on their behalf. those people from legal aid are working hand in hand with the home office.
- There is high rate of human trafficking around the centre. The more a detainee is moved from one centre to another the more money the security company get.”
“I’m here for for 5 months. I was told 28 [days] while they decide but I’m here for 5 months. It’s not only about me – there are lot of people who have been here 1 year, 2 year. This is a prison, we are not criminals – some people have children and wives outside. Everybody has a different story but we all want freedom.”
“Because of our hunger-strike immigration turn off the water line. Now in G wings, there is no water to drink, shower or in the toilet”
“My wife is outside, she tried to commit suicide last week. It is a very, very upsetting situation. No one is helping me, I have no money for a solicitor, nothing. Because I am in detention I am not with my wife, and I don’t want to leave her. I don’t want to see her troubled. That’s why I’m on hunger strike.”
10 March 2015
“We need all the media, the newspaper, the courts, everyone outside. Do something for us. We are trying our best. We need your help.”
“I am in detention and I am a mental health patient and they arrested me and put me here. I’ve been asking for treatment. I’m not eating for 7 days because I want to a mental health treatment. I tried to commit suicide the day before yesterday. They put me the cell. I have been tortured in the past. At night they came and spoke to me and put me in an observation room – locked room, light on and can’t sleep.I started hitting my head against the door and it was so powerful. Nothing happened after, they refuse any medical treatment and put me in the cell. I remember them verbally abusing me. I don’t remember why I was beating my head but if you put me in this situation I will start to beat my head.”
11 March 2015
“I just wanted to say that I am here since late 2014 and I have a father in this country and he is British, I wanted to be with him, he want me to be with him as well and I am just 18 years old thats it.”
“Still around 30 people are on hunger strike at Tinsley House for the third day. It’s quite a small centre. Officer are coming into our room and saying why are you on strike, it’s not going to work. They laugh saying it’s not going to work – the Home Office don’t care about it.”
“After I left my house…you know some people in Pakistan are trying to find me. They want to kill me. They know what time the charter is coming back…they will wait and find me. This is very big trouble for me. My weight was 90 kg, now I weigh 65 kg- they have this on record. I was very very depressed. I’m slowly slowly dying here. It is better to not go back to my country. It is better to die here. I can’t sleep more than one hour, two hours. I don’t wanna go back.”
12 March 2015
“In 2012 I go to claim asylum in Sweden. In Sweden, they release me on the second day. They don’t want me in this prison. And anywhere; in Germany I have relatives in Germany and everywhere- they don’t put them in this prison.”
“If this place was in another country all you would see is BBC and every media…but because it’s a place in the UK they defend…so when I say to the Home Office “This place is prison”, they say to me “No- is not prison”.”
“You can hear people protesting that they are treating us like animals. People have mental health-depression. They are not getting medication or good food. The food they give us- even animals would not like it. People have not been eating- they are on hunger strike. There has been a lot of racism inside.”
13 March 2015
“I have a gay partner so I have a serious threat in Pakistan. I have serious threats against me. I have police reports against me. I have the phone records of someone threatening me on the phone. I have emails of people threatening me, saying they will kill me. Immigration just say you are lying.”
“We are dying. Because of protest yesterday, one of my mate went to hospital because of that, because he got ill. He started vomiting because he was not eating. He was on hunger strike, he got ill, and started vomiting, and now we don’t know where he is.”