Yarl’s Wood hunger strike prompts nationwide ‘freedom fast’ on International Women’s Day 

Alasdair Clark

A hunger strike at the Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre has inspired a national ‘freedom fast’ on International Women’s Day (8 March)

A FREEDOM FAST is set to take place on International Women’s Day 2018 in support of over 120 women on hunger strike at the infamous Yarl’s Wood detention centre, protesting the UK Government’s practice of indefinite detention and the “inhumane” conditions women at the centre are kept in. 

Supporters of those on strike say the Home Office has taken punitive action against women on strike in the facility, including the attempted deportation of two women on Saturday (3 March), although the second deportation was halted after intervention from politicians and journalists from The Independent and Novara Media. 

On Sunday evening, it was confirmed by The Independent that the Home Office sent a letter to women on strike, who have been refusing food for over 10 days, saying their actions may lead to their case being accelerated and them being removed from the UK sooner. 

Read More: Activist group dumps rotten food in support of Yarl’s Wood hunger strike

The letter told the women their cases would not be delayed by the protest, adding it “may, in fact, lead to your case being accelerated and your removal from the UK taking place sooner”.

In response to what supporters describe as “escalating injustice”, hundreds of people across Britain are to join a 24 hour fast on Thursday (8 March) – International Women’s Day –  in support of the women on strike.

Last week, activist group Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants dumped rotten food outside the security firm which manages the Yarl’s Wood facility in support of the striker’s demands. 

The fast has been called by migrants rights campaigners and friends of people in Yarl´s Wood, who said in a joint statement: “We call on all people of conscience to join us in a 24 hour fast on 8 March, International Women’s Day. 

“We feel it is our responsibility to call the Home Office out and take action with our bodies too.” Joint statement from friends of people in Yarl’s Wood

“We feel it is our responsibility to call the Home Office out and take action with our bodies too; it is outrageous that 100 years after some women got the vote, elected governments can still openly enforce these inhumane and racist measures.”

Britain is the only country in Europe which continues to detain people indefinitely. The practice is opposed by Labour, Liberal Democrats, the SNP, Green Party and Plaid Cymru.  

The Home Office denied that women are held for longer than is necessary, a spokesperson said: “When people are detained, it is for the minimum time possible and detention is reviewed on a regular basis.”

A website has also been set up for people across the UK to pledge their support for the fast. 

Picture courtesy of Sleeves Rolled Up 

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