Over 400 protesters staged protest outside the Yarl’s Wood immigration detention center in Bedfordshire, where a a large number of women are detained. Most of the women incarcerated in the center are here after their claim to seek asylum in the United Kingdom was failed. A number of celebrities and political figures also were present with the protesting crowd. UK has no laws to limit the length of detention and many detainees spend long times behind the locked doors of the detention centers including Yarl’s Wood.
The message of the crowd of over 400 people representing many cities of the United Kingdom was loud and clear, “Shut down Yarl’s Wood”. Sophie Radice, a spokeswoman for the charity, Women for Refugee Women, which organized the protest, said, “The atmosphere is defiant and it’s been a real show of force. We’ll carry on until the abomination that is Yarl’s Wood is shut down.”
Actresses Juliet Stevenson and Romola Garai, alongside Baroness Kennedy QC and Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty also gathered outside the notorious detention center to support the protesters.
“If any woman I know had seen what I saw when I went to visit Yarl’s Wood detention centre I believe they wouldn’t be able to walk away feeling neutral about it,” said Romola Garai. “It’s so obviously wrong, the women detained are in such distress and very afraid.”
Richard Fuller, the Tory MP for Bedford said that current government’s approach towards the failed asylum seekers was “inefficient, unjust and expensive” and “no purpose is served by locking up vulnerable women indefinitely in Yarl’s Wood”.
Home Office officials have been blamed in a parliamentary report for failing to work according to the guidance that immigration detention should be used occasionally with the shortest period possible.