British protesters demand closure of immigrant detention center
Hundreds of people have staged a protest rally outside a notorious immigrant detention center in the United Kingdom, calling for its closure, Press TV reports.
Some 1,500 protesters gathered outside the Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire on Saturday afternoon, demanding that the government close the facility down and release its detainees.
Activists aboard buses from London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Oxford and other cities arrived at the site to participate in the rally organized by the Movement for Justice group.
The Yarl’s Wood center, which houses up to 400 women and is run by the private security firm, Serco, has been criticized for its treatment of the female detainees.
Large numbers of those kept at Yarl’s Wood are failed asylum seekers, who have not been charged with any criminal offence, but can be held in the center indefinitely.
Protesters hammered on the periphery walls of the detention center, chanting pro-refugee slogans and decrying the dire conditions of the detainees.
“It’s an inhumane place and it’s built into the system. It’s really abusive,” Antonia Bright, from the Movement for Justice, told Press TV.
A former detainee named “Kingsley” told Press TV that he had come from Cameroon to continue his studies, but was arrested and detained for three months.
“The most challenging aspect of it is [that] you don’t know when you are going to get out. So you are there indefinitely, you’d keep thinking that something is going to happen next week,” he said.
Yarl’s Wood, Britain’s largest of 14 detention facilities for women facing deportation, has been repeatedly subject to allegations of sexual abuse of detainees since it opened in November 2001.
In April 2014, Rashida Manjoo, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, was reportedly prevented from investigating conditions inside Yarl’s Wood.