Saturday, 29 May 2010

ending child detention

things i've had my head in the sand about, #1/1000 000. i haven't written about any Yarl's Wood or other detention centre stuff as i'm at a loss to explain why i'm not chained to the gate, or Doing Something in some way, about it.

so the new government has pledged to end detention of children subject to immigration control. it was pointed out to me at a workshop by Black Women's Rape Action Project & Women Against Rape about yarl's wood at the anarchafeminist conference in manchester, that this of course means that children will be released from detention, often into the 'care' system, while mothers continue to be imprisoned.

splitting up families in this way is, of course, horrifying, especially in the guise of a 'doing good' election promise. however an alternative way to 'end child detention' was used in scotland, where they had pledged to end the practice immediately, and therefore needed to get those kids across the border asap:
"Sehar [Shebaz] and her baby girl were incarcerated in Dungavel on the same day that the new coalition government told us that child detention would end – and end immediately in Scotland – whereupon Sehar was summarily removed from Scottish soil and driven down to Yarl’s Wood  Detention Centre to be locked up there instead. [...]

Sehar was instrumental in ensuring that the letter to Nick Clegg was seen by the outside world. She was then swiftly separated from the other families and prevented from communicating with anyone else." (from a statement by Positive Action in Housing)
Then, on the 22nd may, Sehar and her daughter were deported, flown to Pakistan.
"Sehar is the victim of well-documented domestic violence here in the UK. Her escape from her husband is extremely likely to incur retributive violence soon after she sets foot in Pakistan. Her life and her baby’s life are at risk.

Damian Green, immigration minister, has refused to give Sehar compassionate leave to remain despite receiving copies of police reports and letters from Blackburn Women’s Aid supporting her claims of domestic violence."
last week a Pakistani 'service user' told me she'd heard that Sehar had already been killed. this woman has also told me several rumours that turned out not to be true, but that's not to say this isn't true.

Positive Action in Housing's statement continues:
"We are now concerned about the remaining eleven Yarl’s Wood families, four of whom are on hunger strike. We also remain concerned about exactly what the new government means when they say they will end child detention. Will families be able to claim asylum without fear of being separated and children being taken into care while parents are locked up? After the latest debacle about ending child detention, we have to be cautious about exactly what the politicians mean when they come out and say these things. At present, it means Scottish asylum families being driven straight away hundreds of miles away form their communities and sources of support to the controversial Yarl’s Wood facility which even the Chief Inspector of Prisons has branded as unsuitable for children. Let us not forget that UKBA themselves admitted that FAMILIES DO NOT ABSCOND.
In the spirit of the new government’s commitment to end child detention, Positive Action in Housing is calling on the government to release with immediate effect all remaining Yarls Wood families back to their communities so that their children can return to a normal life and schools and so that the asylum claims of their parents can be properly investigated in a humane and civilised way – this is the least recompense we could give as a society for the inhumane way we have treated these families."
eleven families. i mean, it just doesn't make sense to me even according to the obscene logic of the home office. why put a tiny number of people, so unsystematically, through such hell (not that i think the 250+ other people at yarl's wood should be there either..)? perhaps they are testing whether they can get away with it. i read an offhand comment by a guardian journalist who had spoken with women in yarl's wood that the phonecalls are cut off every few minutes as a matter of procedure. so that it's that much harder for them to keep in touch with lawyers, supporters, family (their children, once they are separated!).. i just...

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