On Saturday 8th April, over 300 people from all over Britain (including south wales) converged outside Harmondsworth & Colnbrook, two of the UK’s ten detention centres to protest the racist & unjust immigration & border regime as well as the brutal treatment that inmates face within detention prisons.

The demonstration began at around 11.30 but a large police presence forced the majority of demonstrators into a ‘pen’ outside the detention centres preventing inmates & demonstrators establishing a line of sight. However, around 40 activists who approached Colnbrook from the rear were able to make contact with the inmates who could be seen waving through windows & banging could be heard. While a choir & brass section played a number of activists went over a small wooden fence to bang on the huge perimeter fence in solidarity with the inmates. Police then began to forcefully move the activists who continued to bang on the fence while being pushed, shoved & knocked the full length of the fence & onto the main road. As many officers lost their cool, more arrived & were able to construct a poorly organised ‘bubble’ around the activists.

Inside of the prisons, inmates were forbidden to go into the exercise yard or near the windows in case they make contact with protesters. A number of inmates were beaten by guards when they tried to see the protesters outside & were forced (in many cases violently) back into their cells.

In protest at their inhumane treatment by security guards, 150 inmates in Colnbrook refused food & water on that day beginning an indefinite hunger strike with one hunger striker stating:

“The hunger strike in Colnbrook will go ahead until we’re dead, because to deport us to our countries is like killing us. So we’ve decided to die with hunger”.

On April 15th over 120 inmates at Haslar detention centre, Portsmouth, began a hunger strike against arbitrary detention & in solidarity with the inmates at Colnbrook who remain on indefinite hunger strike. On Thursday 20th April around 20 Turkish Kurdish inmates in Harmondsworth began a hunger strike. Meanwhile on the same day a solidarity demonstration took place on Queen Street, Cardiff. About 30 people & a ‘No Borders, No Nations, No Deportation’ banner gathered to hand out flyers & talk to people about the situation of the hunger strikers & immigration detention & borders in general.

Despite recent media bile & hysterics about asylum seeker criminals, we believe that the real crime is the imprisonment of thousands of people whose only crime is to dream & seek out a new life free of pain, fear & poverty. We call for the ABOLITION OF ALL BORDER CONTROLS & FOR ALL DETENTION PRISONS TO BE SHUT DOWN.

This article appeared in Gagged #12

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