PRESS RELEASE from 9/6/2011
Campsfield hunger strike Day 3: Hunger strikers Issue a Statement
Supporters demonstrate outside detention centre
Today, 37 Iraqi and Afghan detainees on hunger strike in an immigration prison issued a statement and appealed for support from human rights groups. 23 Iraqi and 14 Afghan migrants in Campsfield, Oxfordshire, have been refusing food since Tuesday.
‘We are 23 Iraqi and 14 Afghan detainees being held at Campsfield House. The British Government want to send us back to Iraq and Afghanistan. it is not a safe place’.
According to media reports and evidence collected by the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, many of those who have been deported to Iraq in the past are now living in hiding, in fear of the persecution they originally left Iraq to flee. Some have been assassinated. Others have committed suicide only days after being deported or have been kidnapped and killed, while others have had mental breakdowns. Many more have had to leave the country and become refugees again.
‘The British government invaded and occupied both Iraq and Afghanistan, forcing millions of people to leave their homes’, says Dashty Jamal, Secretary of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR). ‘With this policy of detention and deportation, they are continuing to destroy the lives of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan people’.
In recent weeks, many Iraqis have been detained apparently in preparation for another mass deportation flight to Baghdad. Across Europe, thousands of Iraqi and Afghan people have been detained and forcibly returned in recent years. IFIR has been campaigning against this policy. IFIR demands that the Iraqi government stops accepting people forcibly returned to Baghdad Airport and that the Iraqi government compensates deportees, providing them with work or unemployment benefit and supports them to rebuild their lives in Iraq and Kurdistan. The campaign has had widespread support both inside Iraq and across Europe.
Tonight, supporters of the hunger strikers in Campsfield held a demonstration outside the detention centre.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, permission for a similar demonstration was refused today. Dashty Jamal says ‘When European governments claim that Iraq is a free and democratic country it is a lie. Today the Kurdistan Regional Government denied permission for a demonstration against their deportation policy. By not giving IFIR permission to hold a peaceful demonstration, they have shown that there is no freedom of expression, no democracy in Iraq.’
Inside Campsfield, all the Iraqi hunger strikers refused to speak with a representative of the Iraqi government who arrived to make preparations for the deportation. All of them want to remain in Britain where they have family and friends and have built their lives. They are determined to have their demands met; ‘if we don’t get these decisions for us as humans and for our safety we will not eat until we die, rather than to be made to return to these war torn countries’.
Bill MacKeith of the Campaign to Close Campsfield said: ‘During the demonstration this evening I talked with the partners of two of the hunger strikers. They had been visiting. From the details of their cases, it is clear that the government is trampling on the rights of individual in order to drive forward with a ruthless and unacceptable policy of mass deportations to Iraq, a country described by the United Nations as unsafe. Both the detainees concerned, on hunger strike in Campsfield, have partners of some standing and children in the UK. Where is the right to family life in this?
01865 558145 (Campaign to Close Campsfield)