4 Mar 2015

Yarl’s Wood protest: we’re not animals, we just want respect

Detainees at Yarl’s Wood immigration centre were reportedly protesting on Tuesday night inside the grounds of the facility following a Channel 4 News investigation.

Above: Channel 4 News speaks to women inside Yarl’s Wood

Channel 4 News spoke to two women inside Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre on Wednesday morning, amid reports that detainees are threatening to go on hunger strike.

Women were heard shouting “animals” inside the building, after a report by this programme cited staff at the centre referring to inmates as “animals” and “beasties”.

Read more: Yarl's Wood - undercover in the secretive immigration centre

One woman told Channel 4 News: “They’re trying to shut us up but we have voices that need to be heard. We need someone to get in here.”

She told reporter Cordelia Lynch that guards were laughing at them: “All we’re asking for is respect … an apology.”

She told Channel 4 News that there were at least 100 women in corridors protesting against guards overnight.

‘Hunger strike’

She claimed that out of all the women in the detention centre, only 15 people have eaten a meal tonight. And she said that they are planning to continue to refuse eating for the near future.

A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police confirmed that inmates had been protesting. In a statement, he said: “There is a small protest that is currently peaceful at this time.”

Serco, who suspended two staff members following the investigation, said that they were speaking with the detainees: “There is a small peaceful protest by around a dozen women and we are talking to them.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are aware of a small-scale protest in a secure outdoor area at Yarl’s Wood which is in the process of being peacefully resolved.”

Report by Suswati Basu