morton hall press release #1


Contact: No Borders Nottingham
Tel: 07551863362


A number of detainees have been on hunger strike inside Morton Hall IRC for as many as 9 days. Abbas Ayub, a Pakistani national said 3 men were protesting because they want to be returned to their countries of birth but the UK Borders Agency continues to detain them. Abbas said he had been refusing food since last Monday because he has been detained since May, even though he has agreed to return to Pakistan voluntarily. He said that no one from UKBA had spoken to him about his protest. “I just want to go back” he told No Borders Nottingham(2).

Indefinite detention is a deeply controversial part of the UK’s immigration detention system. According to Nick Hardwick, the chief inspector of prisons, speaking last month, some immigration detainees have “simply been forgotten”. One Somali migrant has been held for 9 years after he completed his prison sentence.

The hunger strike is the most recent in a series of protests by Morton Hall prisoners regarding their treatment over the last twelve months. On Wednesday 9th Jan, a Sudanese detainee attempted suicide by slitting his wrists. Friends of the man said that he was frustrated and angry at his long period of detention. Prior to this, a peaceful protest involving between 30 and 40 detainees took place on Christmas Eve. Prisoners had been left without running water, working toilets or cooked food for a number of days.

This is not the first hunger strike inside Morton Hall. In July 2011 an estimated 100 detainees went on hunger strike due to their treatment by the authorities. Two detainees scaled the centre’s rooftops and threatened to jump within less than 24 hours of each other. The detainees, originally from Palestine and Malaysia, were protesting at the ‘disrespectful’ and ‘inhumane’ treatment they experienced, including being detained for prolonged periods.

No Borders Nottingham activist Geoff Bates said “This hunger strike is only the most recent manifestation of ongoing resistance to this country’s inhuman migration control system. The indefinite detention of migrant detainees is an act of violence by the state on vulnerable members of our community and it must end.”


Notes for editors:

(1) Morton Hall Immigration Removals Centre was formerly a prison for female foreign national prisoners but has now been converted to an immigration removal centre for male detainees. It is run by HM Prison Service in collaboration with the UK Border Agency and opened in May 2011. It has a capacity of 392. It was opened in June 2011 by immigration minister Damian Green.

(2) No Borders Nottingham is a group of individuals who aim to show political and practical solidarity with all those who have been affected by the border and deportation regimes of nation states. The group has organised a number of noise demonstrations outside Morton Hall in solidarity with detainees.

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Unused prison guard material

No Borders Nottingham(2) activist Geoff Bates said “The allegations made by the prison officers union appear to be an attempt at distracting the public from the violent acts they are committing on behalf of the UK Border agency(3). The indefinite detention of migrant detainees is an act of violence by the state on vulnerable members of our community”._

Claims of prisoner violence made by by the Prison Officers Association was later found to have been vastly exaggerated. Over the new year an independent monitoring board stated that the activities of Morton Hall IRC1 detainees over the Christmas period were exaggerated by both prison guards and their union the POA. Original claims by the POA stated that a large number of prisoners had violently protested and attacked guards working at the immigration removal centre. Yet Rod Booth, who chairs the Independent Monitoring Board, has said he had looked at CCTV footage and the POA’s version of events had been exaggerated. WHOSQUOTE IS THIS?
“The recent fabrications by Morton Hall prison guards are a further attempt to demonise those imprisoned by the Border Agency who are trying to escape the economic, military and environmental effects of global capitalism.”_

Instances of racism, brutality and neglect in detention centres are rife. In 2009 two guards at immigration detention centres were found to be members of the fascist British National Party. In 2011 a guard at Yarl’s Wood IRC was fired after a detainee became pregnant whilst in detention. The denial of medical treatment is commonplace in detention centres. Examples include denying wheelchair access to a detainee unable to walk after an assault during a forced removal attempt, which meant that she couldn’t go to eat. Denial of medication to patients with health problems is common. For example HIV positive detainees have been denied access to anti-retroviral drugs whilst in detention.