Yarl’s Wood Demonstration: A Statement of Solidarity
Monday, March 19, 2018
(CN: discussion around detention, state violence and accounts of abuse)
This Saturday, 24th of March, South East and North London Sisters Uncut will be attending a demonstration outside Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre.
As Sisters Uncut, we recognise that state violence is also domestic violence. Violence against women and non-binary people is not only perpetuated by intimate partners and family members, but is also enforced by the state and structures of institutional power. Our fight against domestic and gendered violence is not complete without committing to protecting and fighting for all women and non binary people who suffer under these structures.
Immigration detention is a prime example of state violence. Most of the women and people detained in Yarl’s Wood are survivors of multiple traumas, including rape, torture, and other abuse. Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre replicates and perpetuates detainees’ prior trauma. As Sisters Uncut, we unequivocally support these survivors. As we have written before: the domestic violence that takes place in home settings with intimate partners and family is replicated in state institutions by individuals acting in the name of the state. We are firmly against detention in all its forms.
Detainees have been on hunger strike since the 21st February, and other detainees are on labour strike, refusing to do the menial work assigned to them, for which they are paid only £1 an hour. We believe that now is a crucial time to show solidarity with detainees, which is why we are attending the demo on the 24th. Their demands include an end to indefinite detention and charter flights – you can read all their demands, and further accounts of the strike, here.
It is understood that Movement for Justice (MFJ) are the organisers of this demo, and will have a presence of the day. MFJ are not an organisation that Sisters Uncut supports or condones, due to the accounts of abuse that previous members of the group have exposed. However, the events of recent weeks – detainees’ hunger and labour strikes, and the Home Office’s violent response which has included threats of deportation – make this a crucial time to show our support. Sisters Uncut are in solidarity with ALL survivors, and in this instance, this means supporting both the MFJ survivors and the survivors of detention.
We absolutely do not condone MFJ and stand firmly against their abuse of both migrants and survivors, and we hope to very soon be in a position where they are not present at Yarl’s Wood. The work they do is in no way more important than the very real threat they pose to migrants and survivors. We understand that as Sisters Uncut, we are powerful and dangerous, and it is our responsibility to continue working with and around Yarl’s Wood whilst finding a way to bring the MFJ survivors justice.
Furthermore, we realised that one way of putting our resources to good use by was by enabling supporters, activists, and members of the public to attend the demo independently of MFJ. As Sisters Uncut we have the financial ability to hire coaches and offer transport to anyone wanting to attend this protest, without needing to rely on the coaches of MFJ who have in the past held a monopoly on transport.
This is why we have booked two coaches to travel from London to Yarl’s Wood and back, and we are opening these to any member of the public who would like to attend. You can book your ticket here – our tickets are on a sliding scale, depending on your access to money and resources.
As a group, we have multiple measures in place to make the demonstration go as smoothly as possible, and to honour the wishes of MFJ survivors as much as we can. As well as organising our own travel there, Sisters Uncut will have our own PA system, which we will use to highlight the voices of those affected by detention independently of MFJ. We will have a dedicated team of wellbeing sisters, whose role on the day will be to ensure people are feeling safe and cared for. These sisters will be easily identifiable, and will make themselves known on the day. We will also be briefing everyone travelling on our coaches on our plan for the day, including a legal briefing, and will make sure that it is well known that we are not affiliated with MFJ.
In the future, we hope to take a role in organising demonstrations outside of Yarl’s Wood, and other detention centres, independently of MFJ.
If you want to attend the demonstration on the 24th, and are travelling from London, you can book your ticket here, and join our Facebook event here.