big-bannerOn Saturday No Borders activists from South Wales  joined around 200 people from across the country in Bedford for a march on Yarl’s wood immigration prison to call for an end to the detention of migrants. This particular facility has the capacity to hold 405 people, and specialises in locking up children. The march coincided with other protests against immigration detention centres in Manchester and Edinburgh.  

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Gathering in the busy town centre, participants gave out leaflets inviting people to join the march and held placards and banners aloft. After listening to a compelling speaker or two, and becoming annoyed by the personally intrusive filming and photography by the F.I.T. (Forward Intelligence Teams) police, the demonstrators set off on what, it has to be said, was a rather long march. 

frontUpon arriving at the outside gates of Yarl’s Wood IDC, demonstrators found between themselves and the prison a row of police vans and 40 police officers, above buzzed a watching helicopter. The detainees could not be seen or heard as they were being kept inside due to the demo. Once the helicopter and its noise had gone, we (and the police) were able to hear the accounts from speakers including people who had been detained there in the past and (via a mobile phone and megaphone) directly from people inside.

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The speakers recounted the denial of adequate access to health care, detainees being held for years, prevention of access to legal representation, traumatised survivors of rape having no privacy from the completely male staff – who would enter their rooms without warning. One speaker from Medical Justice told of a woman so traumatised by her detention she sat in a corner unaware of her own child. The powerful and very moving testimonies of people who’s lives have nearly been destroyed by the brutality of the border regime were met with revulsion at the horrific tactics of the state and must act as a catalyst to take action until all are free!

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