Hundreds of activists have picketed outside a UK detention center, demanding the facility be shut down over sexual abuse and mistreatment of female detainees.
The protest was held on Saturday around the building of the Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Center in Bedfordshire where about 400 predominantly female migrants await their deportation from the UK.
The protesters created a wall of noise around the controversial site, kicking the 20-feet fence, banging pans and chanting through mobile PA systems.
The demonstrators were chanting “no sister is illegal” and “no borders.”
The female inmates showed their support and waved through narrow, mirrored glass windows that can only be cracked opened by two or three inches.
Also, some of the women inside the sprawling campus went on hunger strike in the wake of the protest.
The event was organized by the Movement for Justice which wants the Bedfordshire center to be closed with immediate effect.
“It has been the women’s determination to speak the truth about sexual abuse and harassment that has seen the secretive world of abuse behind the walls of Yarl’s Wood exposed,” said Karen Doyle, Movement for Justice national organizer.
“This is an issue for anyone who cares about women’s rights, human rights, justice and equality. The UK’s commitment to human rights is a lie as long as places like Yarl’s Wood exist,” she said.
One protester said that “these people haven’t committed any crimes,” adding, “Treating them like this is inhuman.”
The demonstrators said the center is indicative of the “scapegoating of migrants” which they believe has been prevalent since Britain voted to leave the EU in June.
They were also demanding an end to mass deportations through the use of charter flights.
The protesters became silent when women started speaking through mobile phones from inside the center.
One woman said that “we are locked in, officers standing by the door,” adding, “We wanted to put a cloth out [of the window]. They told us to take it off.”