Campaign group vows to escalate fight against “racist” Westminster after Dungavel closure

08/09/2016
Nathanael Williams

Group fighting for refugee rights takes aims at new proposed facility set up to house Dungavel detainees

A CIVIL RIGHTS group has announced it plans to protest the proposed new facility that will house asylum seekers and refugees after Dungavel projected closure in 2017.

The group We Will Rise reacted to the announced closure by the Home Office yesterday afternoon by saying that it will celebrate but continue to fight for the rights of detainees, whom it says are denied rights and privileges by the legal system based on race and religion.

Formed two years ago, its membership consisting of refugees, asylum seekers and residents from mainly Glasgow paid homage to the 15 year campaign that resulted in the closure.

"We will resolutely oppose the proposed new 51 bed short-term holding facility at Glasgow Airport. We will continue to work in support with our allies in campaigning." Sally Martinez

Spokesperson for the group, Sally Martinez, said: "Tonight we celebrate, tomorrow we escalate the fight to end detention. We must remember this is a move imposed on Scotland by Westminster. The Conservative government under Theresa May is one of the most racist and brutal we have experienced for decades. 

"The decision to close Dungavel means that we must remain one step ahead. We will escalate the campaign against the building of a new detention facility in Renfrewshire.
 
"Now is a perfect time for the Scottish government to act on its own commitment to end detention in this country. We send a strong message to our political representatives that there is no humane way to detain people in the immigration system.

Background read: "Shut down Dungavel" : Hundreds protest to demand detention centre is closed
 
"The decision to close Dungavel is a move to facilitate the rapid removal of refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants. It will deny people their human right to legal support. It will cut people from support networks – their homes, families and friends. 

"The government’s ‘fast track’ system has already proven to be unlawful. This decision is part of a broader scheme to deny people basic legal rights, which are theirs in a democratic society.
 
"For those in the grips of detention, announcements like this offer little relief. One site of trauma, maltreatment and violence will be replaced by another. The future for those imprisoned in Dungavel for the next 15 months will be marked by even more acute levels of fear and uncertainty. In the coming days and weeks, we will offer support to those detained in order to care for each other and resist the system from within.
 
"We will resolutely oppose the proposed new 51-bed short-term holding facility at Glasgow Airport. We will continue to work in support with our allies in campaigning against Larne, Yarls Wood, Campsfield, Tinsley, Cedars, Harmondsworth, Colnbrook, Brook, Pennine Verne, Morton Hall and all the other sites the Home Office continue to use to imprison, control and dehumanise us."

"Now is a perfect time for the Scottish government to act on its own commitment to end detention in this country. We send a strong message to our political representatives that there is no humane way to detain people in the immigration system." Sally Martinez

From early 2001 Dungavel immigration removal centre, a UK Government facility for detaining refugees and failed asylum seekers prior to deportation, has been a site of controversy and protest. 

The conditions at the detention centre have been deplored by campaigners, with detainees claiming they are regularly treated like prisoners.

Other key concerns of human rights groups include the length of time individuals were held at the centre and the detention of children, until that practice was ended under public pressure in 2010. 2007 saw a flare-up of protests from inside and outside the centre following a suicide.

The centre which holds up to 249 detainees, will be replaced by a 51 room short-term holding centre to be built close to Glasgow Airport, as part of the UK Government's strategy for a "more efficient and cost-effective detention estate".

"The closure of Dungavel is welcome but without a fundamental change within the system many of the problems of destitution, improper questioning and indeed unfair removals will continue unabated." Grahame Smith

Commenting on the closure of Dungavel, Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), said: "The Dungavel detention centre has for too long been a symbol of all that is wrong in our immigration system and we welcome the Home Office decision today to close it.

"While we recognise that this is a step in the right direction, we are by no means convinced that the problems within our immigration system are now solved.

"It is clear that detention will still play a role in the system going forward and our asylum system has for too long run on a climate of suspicion rather than one of dignity and respect for those who are fleeing persecution.

"The closure of Dungavel is welcome but without a fundamental change within the system many of the problems of destitution, improper questioning and indeed unfair removals will continue unabated."

Picture courtesy of We Will Rise

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