Saturday, 17 April 2010

And another thing...

Yesterday a man died in Oakland immigration centre (a place with a dodgy track record.) He died of a heart attack, after complaining of pain and being refused medical care. The detainees protested and riot police were called in. How did the BBC report this? "Immigraton Officers Hurt."

I don't believe in the BBC any more either. They don't report the straight story, they spin it like the Daily Mail.

Meantime, Meg Hillier, Home Office Minister tells porkies about the Yarl's Wood women's hunger strike (5 weeks, how long would you go without food to make a point?) For shame, Meg.

If you think it's a bad idea to lock innocent kids up, I'd just like to draw your attention to the End Child Detention campaign - the petition has ended but you can email your MP, once they've got in. (I emailed mine & he said "I agree with you. I'm unable to check I'm afraid as Parliament's dissolved, but I think I did sign it. I've certainly made representations on the issue in the past. I advise that you take up the issue again after the election with the new MP." I forgot parliament had dissolved. Doh. )

It's not a sexy exciting election issue I know, but it makes you think. What kind of country have we turned into?


  1. I had a vision of the edifice melting like so much warm icing on a three-tiered cake: Parliament dissolving indeed.
    I can't answer the last question. I'm an outsider now and wouldn't feel safe doing so. Which sort of answers the question.

  2. What kind of country have we turned into?
    The same question (on the same issue) that we're asking here in Australia. Especially those who thought the last change of government would fix things. So much for elections.

    On a brighter note, you seem to be edging back into general blogging an inch at a time. Hurrah!

  3. Arabella, ha! Apparently they have to ask the Queen. I don't know what kind of country it is either - sometimes I feel like I'm dreaming it.

    Thanks Ian. I know, it is scary times. Maybe it was always like this and I just didn't pay attention? - but it feels like things are going backwards instead of forwards, and we don't learn anything from history.

    I'm interested in No Borders - I think what they say makes sense.

  4. Coming to this late. I visited someone in Oakington a couple of times last year, just before he was deported. (We had worked together on a literature project.) On the face of it, it's fairly civilised, but visitors only ever get to see the public spaces. It's an old RAF camp, still kept neatly manicured: lawns cut, roses tended etc. The staff seem well disposed - but then I'm a white, middle aged, middle class woman who probably reminds them of their headmistress. I had to bring my passport (for ID), which I had to surrender at the gate, together with car keys and mobile. I was wanded (politely) for explosives and drugs. No cameras allowed. I was taxied (politely) to the visitor room, where there is a weird normality: chintz curtains, smoking picnic tables in the (locked) yard outside. We go in by the french windows, which make you think of the days when it had a pool table or whatever. But the interview tables and chairs are all screwed to the floor (so people can't use them as weapons) and there are fierce notices up on the wall, in umpteen languages, about what is not permitted. You are escorted everywhere by guard (friendly enough, as I said) and every door is locked. There are forms for the guards to fill in at every handover. The detainees are escorted everywhere by guard too.

    The smoking tables in the yard turned out to be a relic from a prior existence, not used now.

    D said that he was well treated, had no complaints, and perhaps that was true. He had enough else going on in his life, and was probably quite compliant.

    I'd read about Oakington before I went there, so had to hold in my mind the two versions: the normal, decent stuff I was seeing, and the horrendous stories I was reading elsewhere.

    Everywhere, men were weeping.

    It's bad enough for adults: no way is detention a good thing for chilren.

  5. Thanks Anne, your account gave me shivers. I'm sorry your friend was in there. I can believe your friend, and the civilized side of it, but also you have to wonder when people were starving themselves for 5 weeks. Also, there's little evidence that people (espcially those with kids) abscond - the government's answer to everything at the moment just seems to be LOCK EM UP. Brrr...