Emily Yeh has lived in Newport for 18 months, arriving to seek sanctuary from Taiwan. She refused to be an intelligence officer for the Taiwanese government as she became morally uncomfortable with the work she was asked to carry out.
She was detained on Tuesday 10th December, “Human Rights Day”, and held at Newport Central Police Station. As soon as news came out that she was to be forcibly removed from the police station to a detention centre, some 25 friends turned up to show solidarity and kept a presence there for over 12 hours. She is now in imprisoned in Yarl’s Wood, a detention centre run by Serco, on behalf of the UK Home Office, who intend to forcibly remove her from the UK.
Since then, her friends and other activists have set up a campaign (originally referring to her as M.Y. to protect her identity) calling for her to be returned to Newport – where she can continue to build a new life for herself within the community where she has become such an important and valued member. In Taiwan she would face a very uncertain future. There is a website and a Facebook page with daily updated information.
Hundreds of emails and phone calls later – most during a phone blockade of EVA Airways, who were due to fly her out of the UK – Emily is still in the UK, but has been taken ill; with bad stomach pains, blood in her urine, and a diagnosis of kidney stones, and possible epilepsy.
Emily is incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support she has received, and, as she attempts to recover from her illnesses, almost definitely made worse by the stress of her situation, she is in talks with her solicitor, who is also fighting for her to stay in the UK, as is her right under the Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Her friends have reported that Emily claims that staff at Yarl’s Wood had “pushed (her) off her seat” and that there were “bad things said to her/about her”. If confirmed, this would be a serious allegation against the staff there, especially after when much controversy has already surrounded Yarl’s Wood, after hunger strikes, fires and the recent sexual abuse some of the woman detainees have suffered at the hands of its staff.
The campaign still hopes and plans to continue trying to persuade the airline not to take Emily, and for the Home Office to release her so that she can be returned to Newport where she belongs.
If you want to get in touch with the campaign, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org