By Tomáš Tengely-Evans
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Yarl’s Wood hunger striker Theresa calls on Theresa May to shut down migrant prison

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Issue 2595
Asylum seekers can be locked up indefinitely in Yarls Wood detention centre
Asylum seekers can be locked up indefinitely in Yarl’s Wood detention centre (Pic: Guy Smallman)

A woman hunger striker at Yarl’s Wood has called on Theresa May’s government to shut down the detention centre—and stop criminalising migrants.

Theresa, an asylum seeker from Uganda in East Africa, is one of 120 women who began a hunger strike last month.

“We’re fighting a system that has ceased to respect life,” she told Socialist Worker.

“This place should not exist”.

She added, “The Home Office don’t listen to us—we’re just numbers to meet their targets to reduce immigrants. Their attitude is, ‘We want them out’.

“I am angry that they can come to that kind of conclusion.”

Guards at Yarl’s Wood, provided by outsourcing giant Serco, have tried to undermine the women’s hunger strike.

Theresa said, “They are still blind to the demands that we have and are out to patronise us.

“One came into my room yesterday asking about all the eating issues and brought food. I said that I didn’t want it and asked her to take it away—but she said I’m going to write in the file that you received food.

“There’s no care or compassion about it.”

Hunger for freedom at Yarl’s Wood
Hunger for freedom at Yarl’s Wood
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The problem isn’t just outsourced guards—the orders come right from the top of the Tory government.

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes has defended the Home Office letter threatening to fast-track the deportation of hunger strikers.

Theresa said, “It has created fear within us and anger and bitterness. It was to remind us that we better shut up.”

Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has pledged to end the barbaric policy of indefinite detention.

Anti-racists should also demand that a Labour government shuts down Yarl’s Wood and all the other immigration prisons.

It should also stop deportations and grant asylum seekers indefinite leave to remain.

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