Fasting for freedom

IssueApril - May 2018
News by Lindsey Gilroy

With my husband and six members of Machynlleth’s Mid Wales Refugee Action, I was one of many who joined the 24-hour ‘Freedom fast’ on International Women’s Day called in support of women on hunger strike in Yarl’s Wood detention centre. There, asylum-seeking women and children are locked up indefinitely until the home office decides to deport them. Some have been held for years with no idea what awaits them.

In 2010, the then children’s commissioner for England, Albert Aynsley-Green, reported that children at Yarl’s Wood faced ‘extremely distressing’ conditions. In 2011, the high court ruled that the continued detention of children of failed asylum-seekers at Yarl’s Wood was unlawful. Britain is the only country in Europe which continues to detain people indefinitely.

The fast was organised by migrants’ rights campaigners and friends of people in Yarl’s Wood, who said in a joint statement: ‘We call on all people of conscience to join us in a 24-hour fast on 8 March, International Women’s Day. We feel it is our responsibility to call the Home Office out and take action with our bodies too, it is outrageous that 100 years after some women got the vote, elected governments can still openly enforce these inhumane and racist measures.’

I participated as I feel that it is inhumane and unnecessary to keep in detention people who are not criminals and who have done nothing wrong. Children are suffering, locked up and treated like criminals, in a country which has a duty of care to help refugee and asylum-seeking families who have fled war and persecution overseas. To think that they have now found further suffering and pain in the UK makes me very angry. If we all watch without taking a stand, we are enabling injustices to be repeated.

More info: Mid Wales Refugee Action

Topics: Refugees