THOUGHTS FROM THE FENCES – YARL’S WOOD & THE IMPORTANCE OF IMMIGRANT RIGHTS

by Lotty Clare

Content warning: mentions violence against women, abuse, rape, self-harm, suicide, racism, harassment, homophobia.

Last Saturday, a group of UEA students and Norwich residents travelled to a protest at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire. This protest was the fifth Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ) has organised to shut down detention centres. As I approached the building, hidden inside an industrial estate, surrounded by fields, in the middle of nowhere, it was just as intimidating and depressing as 6 months ago when I went to Yarl’s Wood for the first time. It looks like a prison, except that it is ‘worse than prison, because you have no rights’, as former detainee Aisha Shua put it. Some women are in Yarl’s Wood because their visa expired, others because their asylum claim was unsuccessful. They have committed no crime. And yet they can be detained there indefinitely.

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YARL’S WOOD

by Alison Graham

Content warning: mentions violence against women, rape.

Britain has the greatest area of land dedicated to the indefinite detention of human beings in Europe. This is legal.

See:

A former inmate looks at the place in which her back was physically, literally, broken and says don’t give up. Women thread flowers through this border within a border within a border. The border is admitted only by the letters IRC. Green paint flecks cling to the toes of your boots. On a hill do not question whether the people with the kite-fluttering hands can see you.

Instead:

Is it rare to recall dreams. Where can I find this on gov.uk. If the guards are rapists what does that make the walls. How do you resist the lines you were born the right side of. How do you resist. Can love and hatred happen at the same time, and transform you equally. Are there two kinds of hatred. How about three. How about in the same place, at the same time. And built into the container itself – the beige, the smallness of the windows, the low shade of the roof, the two fields away from the road where no one is living. How are you. Do you need water. Can you read the sign from that window. Is this your first time. When will we deport Theresa. Is there a postcode for here. Have they repainted the fence. Is it really violent to kick it so that it thunders. Who is bringing the smoke flares next time, and in what colour. Do you need water. How do you resist. Is it violence when your window looks over an unreachable place, when that unreachable place is so blooming. Is it when everything is glass and unbreakable. What is the consensus on winding yourself at a border with a child’s party toy to say in a way I make noise therefore you are. Are there two kinds of hatred. How about four. How about one for each piece of sand on a beach in southeast Europe. Do you need water. Is this your first time. Is it violent. When this is all over, will people laugh at the theory of lying flowers on a has-been border, as if it were a wrist.

Featured Image credit: Jan McLachan


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NUS WOMEN’S CONFERENCE, STUDENT DEPORTATION AND MIGRANTS’ RIGHTS

by Lucy Auger

Content warning: article mentions physical and emotional abuse, abortion, xenophobia, gendered Islamophobia, deportation

Last week, over a hundred women+ students travelled from student unions all over the country to NUS Women’s Conference to elect a new NUS Women’s Officer, and set the direction for the NUS Women’s Campaign for the incoming year. I attended conference as a delegate from UEASU, and sat down with NUS President Malia Bouattia, and NUS Women’s Officer Hareem Ghani after having won her re-election.

This article provides an account of key events at Women’s conference, including motions passed and issues raised at plenaries and workshops throughout conference. I have also published comments given by both Malia and Hareem in response to the questions I asked about NUS, Women’s Conference, and the Women’s Campaign in the context of student deportations and migrants’ rights campaigns.Continue Reading

SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES – SISTERS UNCUT, YARL’S WOOD AND DIRECT ACTION

TW: Violence against women, domestic abuse, rape

By Abbie Mulcairn

The debate over the effectiveness of ‘traditional’ forms of campaigning like phone banking, door knocking, compared with ‘direct’ actions like demonstrations, protests and occupations, is long-running, but ultimately counter-productive. As part of this debate, direct action is often attacked for ignoring or speaking over the voices of ‘ordinary people’, or for having little impact in the ‘real world’.

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DETENTION CENTRES AND THE STUDENT MOVEMENT

by Sahaya James

Harmondsworth detention centre, near Heathrow, is set in an anonymous business park. You can only tell it’s a detention centre because of the barbed wire.

Campsfield detention centre, near Oxford, is accessible by a nondescript turning on a nondescript a-road. The whole site is ringed by a line of trees.

Yarl’s Wood, however, is even more hidden than the rest. It sits hundreds of meters back from the road, behind a double layer of fencing, miles and miles out into the Bedfordshire countryside.

It is, essentially, a prison. Like every detention centre, it doesn’t contain people accused and convicted of crimes — it contains people without UK passports. Specifically, Yarlswood contains women and children.Continue Reading