Hunger strike at Morton Hall immigration centre

Author: Notts IMC + One of No Borders
Tags: migration repression Morton_Hall No_Borders

As many as 100 detainees at Morton Hall Immigration Removals Centre are refusing food in protest against their treatment by the authorities. The protest, which began on Monday night, has also seen protestors take to the roofs of buildings. The centre was under lock down for most of yesterday and detainees were confined to their rooms. A group of supporters who were in touch with people protesting inside the centre held a demonstration outside the perimeter fence yesterday afternoon.

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According to reports from campaigners in contact with detainees, the protests began at the Iftah meal on Monday night. Muslim detainees who had been fasting during daylight hours for Ramadan were offered small portions of what they described as poor quality food. The men refused to eat in protest and say they will continue to do so until they receive better treatment. The protest has since spread to a wider protest involving non-Muslim detainees who have said they are “treated like dogs” by the authorities.

The Morton Hall authorities’ response was to put the centre under lock down, meaning that detainees were confined to their rooms, until all of the rooftop protesters were brought down just after 2pm yesterday. Some protestors have said they will continue to refuse food until conditions change. The management of the centre has declined to release any information to the media, but as there are reported to be around 300 men currently detained in the centre, a protest by 100 will have been a very significant problem for them.

A group supporting the hunger strikers held a demonstration outside the prison perimeter yesterday afternoon, using noise, chants and a megaphone to address detainees. They called for “Freedom of movement” and to “Shut down Morton Hall”, expressing their solidarity with the protests.

This is not the first time mass protests have been held in the centre, which was only opened last Summer. In December last year unrest began when prisoners were locked down for extensive periods whilst cells were checked. This meant that many were unable to visit the shop and buy phone credit, or receive legal and social visits, things that can only be done at certain times of the week. 61 detainees signed a petition against the lock downs and a peaceful protest was held on the football pitch at which it was alleged that guards assaulted a detainee and put him in solitary confinement. The remaining protestors refused to return to their rooms for 30 minutes. Following the protests a number of detainees were removed to Nottingham and Lincoln prisons and other detention centres.

(Hunger strikes in other detention centres?)