By Tomáš Tengely-Evans
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‘We want justice,’ say Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers

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Issue 2594
Yarls Wood immigration detention centre
Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The Tories have threatened to deport women at Yarl’s Wood detention centre for daring to resist Britain’s racist immigration laws.

Around 120 women at the detention centre in Bedfordshire are into the second week of an all-out hunger strike against indefinite detention.

Tory minister Amber Rudd’s Home Office sent a letter to detainees last Saturday. It threatened women that their hunger strike “may, in fact, lead to your case being accelerated and your removal from the UK taking place sooner”.

Hunger striker Theresa told Socialist Worker, “They keep saying patronising things, such as that the hunger strike won’t work because we’ve all got individual cases.

“But what affects me affects my sisters too, we’re doing it as a team to put our demands out there.”

The Tories also tried to deport hunger striker Opelo Kgari and her mother Florence just two days after she spoke out to the Independent newspaper.

They were put on an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa in the east African country.

Hunger for freedom at Yarl’s Wood
Hunger for freedom at Yarl’s Wood
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Opelo and Florence had come to Britain from Botswana in southern Africa 14 years ago, but their asylum claim was rejected in 2010.

The Home Office was forced to halt the deportation at the last minute after interventions by Ruth Smeeth MP and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.

Abbott called last month for scrapping the barbaric policy of indefinite detention.

That’s welcome but it doesn’t go far enough—it wouldn’t stop deportations or imprisonment of asylum seekers.

We need to build a mass movement that shows solidarity with the women at Yarl’s Wood and can push back the Tories’ racist assault.

The Stand Up To Racism demonstrations in London, Glasgow and Cardiff on 17 March are a key opportunity to do that.

Thanks to the Black Women’s Rape Action Project

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