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Protests to highlight month of Yarl's Wood hunger strikes

PROTEST: Demonstrations will show support for Yarl's Wood detainees (Image credit: BBC)

A NUMBER of protests are being planned to mark one month of hunger strikes by women at Yarl’s Wood immigration centre.

Around 120 detainees at the immigration detention centre began refusing food and fluids on 21 February 2018.

One protest will take place at the Home Office on Wednesday 21 March between 4.30pm and 6.30pm, with another planned for Saturday 24 March at Yarl’s Wood, starting at 1pm.

The protests are two of a number that have been held around the country to show solidarity with the women currently held at the detention centre.

The female detainees who have refused to eat or drink are said to have felt they had no choice but to start hunger strikes in response to the treatment they have received from the Home Office.

A letter issued from the Home Office warned detainees against continuing their hunger strikes.

The letter stated that such action “may, in fact, lead to your case being accelerated and your removal from the UK taking place sooner”.

One woman shared her story in an opinion piece in the Huffington Post.

Opelo Kgari, 27, has lived in Britain since she was 13 years old. She was taken to the immigration centre in Bedford with her mother.

Action by supporters prevented Kgari and her mother from being deported. After her friends contacted her MP Ruth Smeeth, Smeeth got in touch with the immigration minister about her case and Kgari and her mother’s deportation was terminated.

“I had no idea how many people care about us here. It makes such a difference to know that so many people care. Some people are praying. Some people are campaigning. Some are just sharing through social media.”

The women have made a list of demands including the “end to indefinite detention and a return to the 28 day limit, due processes before imprisonment for immigration matters and amnesty for all people who have lived in the UK for more than 10 years and an end to the exiling of those who came as children and are culturally British”.

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