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Yarl's Wood hunger striker collapses

A HUNGER striker collapsed today at the Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre and another was removed for deportation as the protest there continues.

The collapsed detainee was taken to the centre’s medical unit in a wheelchair and her current condition is not yet known.

Another hunger striker has been sent back to India, where she had been disowned by her family and could now face serious abuse.

She was taken into a meeting room by a Serco officer, who told her that she was going to be asked about why she was refusing food, but her belongings were gathered and she was deported.

“It is psychologically quite tough,” another of the hunger strikers told the Star from inside the detention centre. She has stopped taking her antidepressants and other medication as part of her protest.

“Morale is quite low, especially among the protesters. People are scared it’s affecting their cases.”

Describing her fellow inmate’s deportation, she said: “The way they took her was out of order. They tricked her and then locked her and put her in segregation while they gathered her stuff.”

Referring to the woman who collapsed, the detainee said: “She’s OK now. She was affected by all the stress and lack of food.

“All the other ladies are sleeping all the time. There is a lot of fear of being targeted.

“We are still hungry for our freedom and we will go on until our demands are met. We plan to carry on the hunger strike indefinitely.”

Serco, the private contractor that runs Yarl’s Wood and has previously been accused of covering up fraud and abuse, refuses to comment on the strike.

News of further actions is expected to emerge soon.

One woman said: “They are waiting to see if we do anything violent, but there will be no violence, no abuse. We just want to be silent, calm and respectful.”

The hunger strike began last week in protest against the inhumane conditions of detention.

Faxes that women have written describing their plight and demands have been confiscated and guards have performed random room searches.

Women protesting in Yarl’s Wood have been targeted for punishment repeatedly and face deportation without a fair hearing.

Nearly 4,000 people have signed a petition in support of the hunger strikers’ demands, but the Home Office has refused to acknowledge the protest or its demands.

Britain is the only country in Europe that detains people indefinitely because of their immigration status.


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