News report alleges women at Yarl’s Wood detention centre beaten by guards

February 8, 2010

According to a report received from the Black Women’s Rape Action Project this afternoon – women at Yarl’s Wood detention centre (in Bedfordshire, England) have been beaten by guards and subjected to racist abuse.

The news report marked ‘urgent’ describes the current situation:

“Over fifty women are currently trapped in an airless hallway in Yarl’s Immigration Removal Centre. On Friday 5 February they began a hunger strike. Today they were herded into the hallway were they have been left there for over two hours without access to water or toilets. Four women, including an asthma sufferer, have fainted. Around 1.30 the guards came into the hallway and started to beat women. As we spoke to one woman she told us that someone was bleeding. One of the managers told the women they would regret what they have done; she called the Chinese women monkeys, and the Black women black monkeys. Four other women have been locked in other rooms for three hours, and have been told by room mates that their belongings have been packed. They are worried they face immediate removal even though their cases are still being considered. Fifteen women have been locked up in “Kingfisher”, the punishment wing.

According to women on the other wings all movement has been restricted – even those not on the hunger strike are not getting any food including diabetics who urgently need it.

Hunger strikers want to speak to the press and get the truth out about the protest.

They are protesting at the length of time they have been detained – one woman who cannot speak English, has been held for over two years. Their statement is attached. Their demands include: an end to the “degradation and humiliation of detained/foreign nationals during deportation by detention staff and escorts during flights”; an end to the Fast Track for asylum seekers which denies fair decisions, the restoration of full legal aid and access to independent legal advice for everyone who is being detained.

Cristel Amiss, Black Women’s Rape Action Project which is supporting women on hunger strike said “Over 70% of women in Yarl’s Wood are rape survivors, many are sick and vulnerable. Why are they being punished for raising serious injustices? This “kettling” tactic has been thoroughly discredited, women should be allowed back into their rooms immediately, there should be an immediate investigation into what has happened and any guard found to be responsible for injuring women must be sacked immediately”.(End of Black Women’s Rape Action Project news report)

The hunger striker’s demands as received by email in a handwritten letter today read as follows (unedited copy):


The women at Yarl’s Wood IRC, have embarked on an indefinite hunger strike. We demand:

Since the 5th. February 2010 the residents/women at Yarlswood detention centre, started a hunger strike which involves all residents in exception of residents on medication which constitutes less than five per cent of the total residents.

We are now demanding:

– An end to frustration and humiliation of all residents.
-A stop to physical and mental torture of all residents
-To provide detainees enough and reasonable time. With adequate resources needed to fully present their cases before the authorities.
-To end the false allegations and misrepresentations made by UKBA (U.K Border Agency) against the detainees, in order to deny bail of temporary admissions.
-To stop the degrading and humiliation of detainees/foreign nationals during deportation by detention staff and escorts during flight.
-To put an end to forceful removal of foreign national detainees.
– Put into law “practice is” – European Rules governing standards of conditions of detention for migrants/asylum seekers
-Detention should be carried out by a procedure described by law, authorised by a judicial authority and to be subjected to a periodic judicial review.
– Detention must be for the shortest possible time according to Human Rights rules

– To put an end to fast track for asylum seeker applications in order to promote fair decisions.
– To end the detention of mothers and children rape survivors and torture victims.
-To stop the detention of sick, mentally ill, disabled people, pregnant women and children.
-To end the separation of mothers from their children as a result of being detained and children left suffering living with strangers
-To end the detention of all all foreign nationals who have spent time in prison
-Restoration of full legal aid and access to independent legal advice for everyone who is being detained.
-To release every foreign national after one month in detention pending decision from immigration or from the court
-Everyone in detention should have access to proper medical treatment and care as obtainable from the community. Foreign national food, mobile phones with connectivities e.g. cameras and recording facilities on the phones. Good communication systems.


According to the Council of Europe’s commissions for human rights and the European Committee as adopted on the 28th. January, 2020 as stated below:

1) Registration and reporting
2) Release on bail/surety
3) Controlled release to individuals, family members, NGOs, religious organisations and others.
4) Hand over of travel and other documents, release combined with appointments of a special worker

List of demands ends.

(See also a previous post which describes how women from the project spoke at the House of Commons on 14th. January, 2010)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s