Archive for July 2014

The Woman Called 258

29/07/2014

Photograph by Isabelle Merminod

Photograph by Isabelle Merminod

Abri writes her third blog from inside Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre

I didn’t know how much of a crier I was until my time in Yarl’s wood; I have formed friendships with some extraordinary women, who have been through a lot in their lives; I have listened to a woman detail her story of how she has been travelling for the past 14 years of her life and how she was smuggled into the country in a fridge. But the one that really touched my heart, mainly because of what she suffered in this country after all she had been through; locked up in Yarl’s wood for the past two years, is a woman I’m going to call 258, after her room no avocet 258.To me this woman is brave, strong and courageous, she is a friend and her strength has brought me hope.

258 was detained in March 2011 and released in May 2014, after she had suffered a lot in many ways: her health had deteriorated, she had injured her back and she is now confined in a wheel chair. Throughout her time in detention she has been in and out of health care and solitary confinement and sometimes she was on suicide watch for many days. How she survived two years in Yarl’s wood I really don’t know, I won’t be able to make two years, I can’t do it.

 I know from my 5 months experience how it feels, how much you miss even the small little things; just the other day my friend and I jumped at what sounded like a barking dog and we convinced ourselves it was a dog, even though in reality it couldn’t have been, because of where we are in the middle of a Business Park. I know how long a day seems and some days you just can’t take it, You want to scream from the top of your lungs, let me out, I want to go out! But the fear of solitary confinement always stops me.

This doesn’t even begin to explain what 258 went through, two years of her life confide in Yarl’s wood, the cost on her health, the pains of her heart, the awful memories of her past and the fears of being forgotten and the careless regard for her life., It sure seemed like human rights didn’t apply to her. What makes me angry about 258’s story is the fact that after two years of detention, the case continues unresolved, For me this is a miscarriage of justice. 258 deservesher freedom and accountability for the loss of two years of her life.

Our pain is Serco’s profit

09/07/2014

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 presetAbri writes for us again from inside Yarl’s Wood detention centre

Today I would like to share some personal experiences and those of fellow detainees, with the hope that we can get people to stand in solidarity with us while we wait for justice.
Our daily experiences in Yarl’s Wood detention centre are far from the description on the Serco’s website which says that they ‘focus on decency and respect in all aspects of care for our residents and use continuous innovation to further improve and develop our service.’ For us Yarl’s Wood is a prison and we are treated like criminals and sometimes even worse.
Recently I had an unpleasant experience that left me embarrassed and humiliated. It was on a Sunday morning around 9 o’clock in the morning. I was in bed suffering from a bad toothache, when officers (three male and one female) opened the door and let themselves in my room. I was ordered to get up and get dressed as they were doing room search. I asked if they could do it at some other time in the day, as I was too tired and in pain. They showed no compassion, called the managers and said I was being difficult. Two male managers came to talk to me, and concluded I was faking the toothache and went ahead with the room search. I was in bed in pain, half naked, with five male officers and one female in my room. They went through my all my clothes with male officers touching my underwear and talking about me as though I wasn’t in the room. They also mucked around and made fun of me. At the end of the room search they found nothing. What makes me angry about the whole thing is the fact that everything in my room was provided by Serco including the clothes as all my personal belongings were confiscated the day I arrived. What they were looking for I don’t know. That day I did not leave the room, and didn’t even go for meals, I just stayed in bed crying and feeling violated.
Really things are not as they seem, to Serco we have a price tag, we are part of million pound business deals, and our pain is Serco’s profit, And while we are in these premises they have the power to do as they will with us, because after all we are just parcels that need to be sent to a different address by all means necessary. And they call this justice?

Today in Yarl’s Wood: “I could really do with some fresh air”

01/07/2014

S453anV3A4EpJ3Bdy3G9zJy43LgUGrbY5P-2Y0C-WN8Abri sends us her thoughts from inside Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire

I carry scars deep down within me where no one can touch or see. I was forced to run and flee for my life. The fact that I am a woman made me a victim of sexual assault in my home country. Now I’m locked up 24/7 indefinitely in Yarl’s Wood, the future is uncertain and deep inside me the voice of hope is daily fading away. I’m separated from family and everything that is normal. I can’t plan for tomorrow because I don’t know where my tomorrow is. My soul cries for justice , my heart is searching for hope and my body simply wants a walk in the park. It’s been more than four months confined in this building and I could really do with some fresh air.

I’m one of the women detained in Yarl’s Wood detention centre and these are not just my feelings, I’m voicing the feelings of many women like me who have been detained indefinitely for months or years. It is hard to put in words what it feels like. Every day something very valuable is taken from us- our freedom. You eat for comfort and sleep to escape, but struggle with both. Thoughts of failure, shame, guilt and defeat fill your mind. You have become so helpless you can’t even choose your dinner as decisions are made for you daily. You lose touch with humanity and start to feel that human rights don’t apply to you. I mean, all you ever wanted was to be a part of a community where you can feel safe and be free to be yourself. Is that a crime?

While our cases are pending, the government has confined us in this building with our scars and all. We all have a chance of winning our cases, and I have seen many do that. And that for me this makes detention meaningless, because most of the women detained here are not going to be removed and that’s a fact. Then that leads me to ask the question – is locking people up for months and even years for administrative convenience even lawful?

The writer’s name has been changed