Detainees punished over protest at suicide


Not long after the suicide of Bereket Yohannes at Harmondsworth last Thursday, detainees met amongst themselves to discuss the death. They had a meeting with management to discuss their concerns over the death and in a 'Peaceful protest' issued a public statement.

Detainees now say that all of those involved in the peaceful protest were moved to isolation (Secure cells) and mandatory forms for moving them from open to closed conditions completed by officers gave simply "indiscipline" as the reason. Many of these detainees have now been transferred to Colnbrook Short Term Holding Centre and two to Dungavel immigration Removal Centre.

It has been very difficult keeping in contact with detainees by phone that are in "Secure" or being moved around the "detention estate" from one removal centre to another. One detainee in "Secure" at Harmondsworth did manage to call NCADC to say he was being transferred to Colnbrook. He said a fellow detainee taken to "Secure" had been coughing up blood, and alleges he was denied his medication. And thanked NCADC for arranging a visitor to come and see him, he said: "it meant everything to me because we are locked up in our rooms".

Many observers feeling that moving detainees into "Secure" and transferring detainees, which may very well dislocate them from local visitors and their solicitor (if they have one), may escalate an already fragile climate.

After Sergey Baranuyck committed suicide in Harmondsworth, Sue McAllister - Head of Security Group HM Prison Service - said "It is not uncommon for detainees to react aggressively to the death of a fellow detainee and to suspect foul play by staff. Staff might have been expected to anticipate this and to have taken action to defuse the situation." The Contract Monitor at Harmondsworth said there was no evidence of any real attempt by staff at the time to de-escalate the situation.

 Information passed to NCADC say Bereket Yohannes, the 26-year-old Eritrean who committed suicide at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre last Thursday, arrived in the UK from Italy in October 2005. The same source said he was detained on arrival in the UK, taken to Dover Immigration Removal Centre and then to Harmondsworth in December. Bereket had Removal Directions for February but that the deportation had been deferred pending a Judicial Review. Detainees at Harmondsworth say that the deportation was not to be to either Eritrea or back to Italy, but to Sudan.


Sky News video-clip

Zimbabwean ex-detainee, Harris, describes how he was on suicide watch in Harmondsworth and driven to a hunger strike.  The video-clip covers the Harmondsworth detainee's complaints of conditions they feel contributed to last week's suicide.  Tim Baster of Immigration Bail for Detainees describes the lack of adequate legal representation for detainees regarding their indefinite detention.  Sky News reported that the Home Office were unable to comment.
Watch the video-clip:,30000-asylumnu_p1782,00.html#





Feb 2006

> > home page > >