Harmondsworth in revolt


http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42370000/jpg/_42370712_prisonhelp_203.jpgA large scale disturbance broke out at Harmondsworth after HM Inspector of Prisons (HMIP) published a report on Harmondsworth which it described as "Undoubtedly the poorest report" issued on any immigration removal centre to date.

For the second time in two years detainees have taken exception to the way they are treated whilst detained at Harmondsworth IRC. Late on Tuesday night detainees were watching the 10.00pm news, an ex detainee was being interviewed on Anne Owers report condemning the centre. Detainees say that a guard switched the program off, incensing the detainees and sparking major disruption throughout the centre.

The protest continued throughout the night and TV pictures broadcast midday yesterday, showed about 50 detainees in one of the courtyards surrounding sheets, spelling out the word 'HELP' 'SOS' 'Freedom'.

The Home Office said they will give release 150 detainees from other detention centres to make room for detainees who will be moved out of Harmondsworth.

Fire at Lindholme IRC: There was a fire in the early hours of Thursday morning, Home Office say fire was quickly put out, no further details at present.


Harmondsworth Removal Centre 'Not fit for Purpose'

Harmondsworth IRC is managed by UK Detention Services (UKDS) who last month renamed themselves Kalyx. Kalyx claim that they provide "nationally recognised standards of service, delivered by high calibre staff", providing "protection and care associated with the growth of the individual and strength", "attributes for which they are known and respected!" Their mission statement for Harmondsworth says: "Immigration detainees are not criminals. Our contract allows us to fully apply our core beliefs and values to ensure that the provision of services to this vulnerable group of people meets our high standards of care." and "All staff in our immigration removal centre must demonstrate a real interest in working with people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds."

"This is undoubtedly the poorest report we have issued on an IRC" Anne Owers, HMIP

The HMIP report revealed what we have known and detainees have suffered for many years
The report painted a picture of endemic victimisation of detainees by staff, that complaints system was distrusted and ineffective, that relationships between custody officers and detainees were "worse than had been seen at any other detention centre", that use of force and use of temporary confinement in segregated conditions was high.

Despite the fact that there have been major disturbances at Harmondsworth and Bereket Johannes was found hanged there earlier this year, HMIP reports that "Suicide and self-harm work was weak" and "Appropriate action had not been taken in response to problems identified by the inquiry into a recent self-inflicted death".

The protest continued throughout the night. The detainees spelled out a makeshift SOS help banner with bedsheets in one courtyard which was visible to a news company helicopter until the airspace above the centre was declared a "no fly zone".

The Home Office say that the disturbance is now under control and that 150 detainees from around the detention "estate" will be released on bail so that space is made available for Harmondsworth detainees.


The scapegoating has started

Lin Homer, the head of the Home Office's immigration service, accused those involved of "making a deliberate attempt at sabotage in order to frustrate" their deportation, whereas detainees say the incident was triggered when guards prevented detainees from watching TV news clips about the HMIP report.

The Home Office sub-contracts the arbitrary and indefinite detention of men, women and children to private profit-making companies who abuse the detainees, and detainees are blamed for escalating their actions, after their written complaints through the official complaints procedure have been ignored and peaceful protests brutally quashed.

Will the Crown Prosecution Service try and charge the wrong people, again ?
Over the years, a pattern of dealing with detention centre disturbances has emerged ... prosecute detainees instead of the Home Office, throw them in prison, deport nearly all of the defence witnesses, and deny that the media frenzy against asylum seekers prevents any fair trial, in which the defendants are detainees instead of the Home Secretary and his underlings.

Detainees banged on the sides of the "meat wagon" vans as they were moved last night
We are especially concerned for the Harmondsworth detainees that, even by the Home Office's own policies, should not "ordinarily" be detained ; the torture survivors, the sick, the disabled, the psychiatrically disturbed, and the one we know has TB.

Demonstration at Harmondsworth/Colnbrook

Sunday 3rd December 12.00 noon
Harmondsworth/Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centres
Colnbrook by Pass
West Drayton

Called by Barbed Wire Britain, demanding that:

* The Home Office to be Prosecuted for Recklessly Endangering Lives

* Full Public Inquiry into Home Office Repeated Failure to Act on HMIP Reports

* Immediate Closure of all Immigration Removal Centres

For further details Contact :

George Mwangi on 07947 794945 or email georgemwas@yahoo.com




December 2006

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