- Created: Thursday, 17 September 2009 11:58
- Written by FRFI
On 13 November activists from London No Borders, Crossroads Women’s Centre, the Institute for Race Relations, National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, Barbed-Wire Britain and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! met to launch a campaign to defend and support the Harmondsworth 4, who face trial early next year following the uprising at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre on 28 November 2006.
Harmondsworth is run by private company Kalyx, a subsidiary of Sodexho. The protest came the day after the publication of a damning inspection report by Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers into conditions and treatment of detainees at Harmondsworth, and was directly triggered by the attempts of members of staff to prevent a group of detainees from watching a news broadcast about the report. Prison riot squads (Tornado teams) were drafted in to batter the protesters into submission. About 50 detainees were left in a courtyard all night and others were locked in their rooms even though parts of the detention centre were on fire.
The revolt was widely reported after a news helicopter photographed the words ‘SOS: Freedom’ and ‘HELP’ spelled out on the courtyard floor with bedsheets. Fearful that this would lead to support for the prisoners and make it more difficult to denounce them as violent animals, the government rapidly declared the airspace above the centre a ‘no fly zone’, citing vague ‘security reasons’.
The campaign meeting heard from activists who had supported detainees who were tried following previous detention centre uprisings at Campsfield House and Yarls Wood and agreed to contact the detainees who are to be put on trial for the Harmondsworth uprising and offer our support to them.
FRFI 200 December 2007/January 2008