Green Party Women attend demo to shut down Yarl's Wood detention centre
22 June 2015
Last Saturday 6th June, Green Party Women supported the Set Her Free protest outside Yarl's Wood detention centre. Hundreds of demonstrators attended from Bristol, London, Manchester and beyond in a spirit of anger, but also solidarity and hope. The crowds included many brave women who had at one point or another been locked up inside Yarl's Wood themselves.
Protesters gathered at Yarl's Wood to hear from some inspiring speakers including Lydia Besong of Women Asylum Seekers Together Manchester; Green Party leader Natalie Bennett; actresses Juliet Stevenson and Romola Garai;Nimko Ali, campaigner against FGM; local MP Richard Fuller and Maimuna Jawo, activist and ex-detainee.
Green Party policy on asylum seekers and refugees, which was updated with help from Women for Refugee Women last year, outlines a new humane approach to asylum. The Green Party would close asylum detention centres, as they are inhumane, unnecessary and expensive.
All the speakers spoke in favour of humane and dignified treatment of those who cross borders and called for Yarl's Wood to be shut down. The most memorablemoment of the protest was when we marched close to the detention centre and heard and saw the women who were locked up waving out of the few centimetrestheir windows would open and shouting back to us.
Demonstrators became so incensed that they broke down the outer perimeter fence and charged to the inner metal fence. Once there, they began banging noisily on the metal fence, chanting slogans such as “Yarl’s Wood! Shut it down!”
The demonstration brought much media attention to the often unexamined scandal of asylum detention. There have been repeated claims of sexual misconduct of the guards towards detainees, and a few weeks ago guards violently broke up a meeting of women, putting the detainees in solitary confinement in Kingfisher wing. A report by Women for Refugee Women in early 2014 highlighted that one in five of women try to kill themselves whilst in asylum detention. Many are survivors of torture and abuse in their home countries.
The next demonstration outside Yarl’s Wood is planned for Saturday 8th August. Green Party Women plan to be in attendance again, in solidarity with the women locked inside this barbaric prison for the innocent.