International Women’s Day saw 545 of us Fasting for Freedom; taking a step further to resist with those in hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood and everyone who faces the weight of the immigration system at the hands of this government’s hostile environment agenda.
People in Yarl’s Wood started their Hunger Strike 17 days ago on the 21st February, their demands are yet to be met, and their protest is still ongoing.
We hope that those who are still hunger striking in Yarl’s Wood are safe. Hunger strike or not, we will continue to support them until the Home Office acts on their demands. And we will continue to organise and grow our movement for racial and migrant justice.
Fasting for a day cannot come close to understanding the experiences of detainees, nor the desperation and strength that would lead one to sustain a hunger strike for this long.
We hope that our act of fasting is a personal and spiritual reflection of the responsibility that we have as members of this society. And we hope that it can bring us a step closer to becoming a stronger force that dismantles racism and the worrying spread of border controls to every area of our lives.
We will be in touch as events continue to unfold. In the meantime, please find below a summary of what happened yesterday and some useful information.
Organisations to follow:
- Detained voices
- SOAS Detainee support
- Freed Voices
- The London Latinxs
- Right to Remain
- Quakers Sanctuary Everywhere
Freedom Fast team!
How the day unfolded:
A message from hunger strikers at Yarl’s Wood
Yesterday 8th March, we woke up to a message from those inside Yarl’s Wood, a fierce plea for freedom:
“We wish we could be celebrating with you on this day, but we are not free to do so… We women here in Yarl’s Wood did not anticipate our freedom would be taken from us or the impact it would have. We are on a hunger strike because we are suffering unfair imprisonment and racist abuse in this archaic institution in Britain. This is a desperate measure due to desperate circumstances. We feel voiceless, forgotten and ignored.”
Vigils across the UK
Here are a few photos from some of the events.
In Leeds people congregated at the Parkinson Steps:
In Glasgow they united against detention:
People sang for freedom led by @nawicollective:
— Tom Kemp (@tomgk90) March 8, 2018
and said in unison “Amber Rudd you are no sister”
— Anna Sophie Gross (@AnnaSophieGross) March 8, 2018
They also read the Hunger Striker’s demands
And took part in a ecumenical ritual for freedom and justice for those in detention led by a member of @londonlatinxs:
In Manchester they chanted ‘No Human is Illegal”:
And in Bristol they called #ShutdownYarlsWood
Hundreds of #HungerForFreedom and Freedom Fast tweets:
And they keep coming, here’s a small sample:
@womensmarchlon fasting on #InternationalWomensDay with hundreds of people across the UK to highlight the demands of people on #HungerStrike at #YarlsWood – Immigration detention is gender and state violence and we will bring it to an end. #HungerForFreedom #FreedomFast
— Women’s March London (@womensmarchlon) March 8, 2018
I’m fasting for 24hrs today to stand in solidarity with the women on hunger strike in Yarls Wood. Thinking of 120 people who have been on hunger strike since 21st Feb, protesting the inhumane conditions, and the detention system as a whole. ✊🏾 #IWD2018 #HungerForFreedom
— Hamsavani Rajeswaren (@hxmsi_) March 8, 2018
Fasting on #InternationalWomensDay w/ hundreds of people across the UK in solidarity with my sisters at #YarlsWood – Immigration detention is degrading & state violence. We’ll bring it to an end 👊🏼#HungerForFreedom #NoHumanIsIllegal pic.twitter.com/w99qqN8ysn
— AzDh Ho (@AzDhHo) March 8, 2018
On #IWD2018 we salute all women, esp migrant women! Some of these women may not have security, safety, housing, healthcare, or the possibility of living freely- And yet, they remain amazing & resilient in the face of adversity!
— Migrants Rights Net (@migrants_rights) March 8, 2018
And many articles were published online:
With mentions of the Freedom Fast, including:
- I Went On Hunger Strike In Yarl’s Wood To Show Detainment Doesn’t Work For Anyone, by Opelo Kgari in the Huffington Post
- We demand an end to Yarl’s Wood Injustice, our open letter in the New Internationalist
- A feature in Guardian’s International Women’s Day live feed
- Why I will be refusing food on International Women’s Day, by one of the Freedom Fasters in Red Pepper
- Why I have pledged to fast today: to stand with the women of Yarl’s Wood, by a Freedom Faster
- Activists to fast in solidarity with Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers on International Women’s Day, by Ceren Sagir in Morning Star
- Yarl’s Wood hunger strike prompts nationwide ‘freedom fast’ on International Women’s Day, by Alasdair Clark in Common Space
- Hunger strikers at Yarl’s Wood detention centre threatened with accelerated deportation, in the The Church Times
- I fasted in solidarity with the Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers, by Henna Shah in Gal-Dem
“Nobody is free, until everybody is free” – Fannie Lou Hamer