Long delays in asylum cases
and conditions at Morton Hall in Lincolnshire prompt unrest, according to
detainees and the centre's visitor group
|Entrance to Morton Hall Detention Centre|
A Malaysian man is the second detainee in less than 24 hours to protest against the 'harsh' treatment of detainees at Morton Hall detention centre in Swinderby, Lincolnshire.
He climbed the nine-meter high Fry building at 11.30am yesterday morning, Tuesday 24 July, and refused to come down even though temperatures reached around 29°C in Lincolnshire.
The Malaysian said he was protesting at the injustice in this country and could be heard shouting for water and saying that he thought he was going to faint. He said the officers refused to bring him water and he threatened to jump off the roof in frustration at the way they were treating him. He said in a telephone call from the rooftop:
They're not human, how can they treat me like this. There is no point anymore.
A UK Border Agency (UKBA) statement said that they sent trained staff to negotiate with the detainee and that they convinced him to come down shortly after 5pm yesterday afternoon. The UKBA said he was placed in a separate unit at Morton Hall where staff could talk to him.
The Malaysian is allegedly only one of a group of detainees who have threatened to climb the buildings of Morton Hall in protest at the 'disrespect' and 'inhumane' treatment they claim to be experiencing.
|One of the rooftops of a building inside Morton Hall|
The protest began on Monday night, when a Palestinian detainee climbed onto the roof of the Library building at Morton Hall at 5pm and refused to come down.
Detainees said they woke up yesterday morning to find that the Palestinian had disappeared from the roof of the building. A UKBA spokesperson said that the Palestinian was talked down during the early hours of Tuesday morning and is safe and well.
The Palestinian, around 25 years old, climbed on to the roof in protest at being detained for eighteen months. He had recently been unsuccessful in a bail application and had been on hunger strike for a couple of days.
An Iraqi Kurdish detainee at Morton Hall, who helped to translate for the Palestinian, said:
People are generally angry with the UKBA, they are fed up with the removal policy.
In an interview yesterday, he said that he couldn't believe how bad the situation was for many of the detainees.
Some people are in a really bad situation here, they have been here for years, but they are innocent, they haven't done anything wrong.
The Iraqi Kurd said that there is an atmosphere of revolt in the detention centre, with many detainees planning to climb to the roofs of the buildings. He said that around six detainees had been taken to prison for protesting and that staff had subsequently locked detainees in their rooms.
|Geoamey, a prisoner escort service, removes detainees from Morton Hall|
Nottingham Indymedia has reported that many of the detainees are protesting because of the centre's disrespect of their Muslim faith during Ramadan. They published a statement by the detainees who say they are on strike:
Sir we are here in detention centre Morton Hall. We are with fasting in the last four days but management not supply proper food for it. We demand proper food at the proper time. Today they don't give food at all and guys are on the roof. We are on strike. Why they don't treat us as human?
Dave Hewitt from Morton Hall Visitors Group said:
We fully support the detainees inside the detention prison Morton Hall in their hunger strike and protests. Having to live under the intolerable conditions they are forced into, often for years on end, being moved around the country from one detention prison to another, in many cases having no contact with the outside world, it's no surprise they have had enough. We will continue to support those detained in any way we can whilst doing all we can to end the inhumane system that puts them there.
A UKBA spokesperson said:
A one man protest at Morton Hall in which a detainee scaled the roof of the centre has been resolved. The man is safe and well.
The identities of the detainees have been withheld for their protection.
Photographs by www.joebream.com