On gloriously sunny Saturday 14 May, These Walls Must Fall campaigners from Manchester, Liverpool and West Yorkshire joined forces with others in Durham to say NO to the new immigration detention centre in Derwentside. Our Manchester group also travelled with LISG (Lesbian Immigration Support Group), Status4All Manchester group and many others to Durham.
No further evidence is needed to show that immigration detention harms people and community.
Yet, the British government decided to go ahead with their controversial plan to open a new immigration removal centre for women, Hassockfield Immigration Removal Centre.
As one of These Walls Must Fall campaigners, Roohi, said in her interview ‘Detention is not good for anyone not for the most vulnerable in our society.’
Other These Walls Must Fall campaigners also shared their reflection after the demonstration.
Mavis (These Walls Must Fall campaigner in Manchester)
“It was an emotional day for me, meeting Agnes Tohah who was one of the speakers. I was detained with Agnes ten years ago in Yarlswood. To this day I have not healed and I am still seeking counselling. When I saw her, I remembered the trauma we both went through and ten years later we are here in Darhum fighting for other women who are inside Hassockfield detention centre and many other detention centres. It is just inhumane and disgusting.”
Mariam (These Walls Must Fall campaigner in Manchester, also of WAST Manchester and SAFETY4SISTERS)
“I am not free until other women are free. I was overwhelmed by the solidarity shown to us by people who travelled from different parts of Britain to stand with us and show us support. We felt the love and compassion. We are standing in the gap and speaking for the voiceless. We will never give up. There is a lot of abuse happening in detention centres to vulnerable women. No access to medication or justice system. Women are treated like offenders.”
Teresa – These Walls Must Fall campaigner in Manchester
“Thank you to everyone who came to the Durham protest. We needed to see this love after we have been feeling like we are fighting a losing war with Nationality and Borders Bill which is now an act. There was just this strong love from the allies who came to hear our stories. We made friends with Rainbow Sisters (lesbian and bisexual group) from London. Within a short period of time we shared our struggles and challenges, we held each other’s hands and exchanged contacts. So it was not only a protest but a beginning of new relationships. Asylum system is a stressful uncertain journey, it gets worse knowing that one day you might be thrown in a detention centre and end up in a country like Rwanda that is homophobic. Thank you These Walls Must Fall for this solidarity.”
Mamoud – These Walls Must Fall campaigner in West Yorkshire
It was a great day with powerful speakers who have been bullied by the system but due to their resilience, they were able to break away from the shackles of persistent anxiety, limbo and mental health issues they were subjected to because of their immigration statuses. I was moved by the experiences they shared, especially Moses Mbano who was detained and almost got deported even though he has a family here. The demo was an eye opener for locals in Durham who before this time had no idea of what is happening to people seeking asylum or how the process reduces or takes away the dignity of individuals who flee persecution for safety here in the UK.”
Manono – These Walls Must Fall campaigners in Liverpool
“I travelled to Durham to show support for the event after experiencing life in detention. It was really nice to see a lot of people come out in support of the Hassockfield demonstration. I was detained in Yarl’s Wood, which is more like worse than prison. The worst thing about detention was healthcare in which illnesses are not taken seriously, no privacy, dignity and poor treatment. Detention is a secret, torturing place. I will never forget that, I still have nightmares even though I left long ago.”
Maggy Moyo, Organiser at These Walls Must Fall said;
“Durham event had a true meaning of solidarity, and everyone was speaking in one voice regardless of race, political affiliation, sexuality and class. There were amazing speakers and a large number of people who came to show their support. I can’t mention all of them but everyone’s presence and all those who shared their messages were well received and appreciated – we were inspired by all of them. My team and I were awestruck and inspired also by the presence and story of Roza Salih of the Glasgow Girls fame who, against all odds, typical of the story of a refugee in the UK, is now doing amazing works in the community, and who, apart from co-founding “Glasgow Girls” at age 15, rose to become a councillor of Glasgow City Council on an SNP ticket in May 2022. Roza Salih not only shared the struggles of navigating the asylum system but also her determination to continue fighting for others to a point where she decided to contest as a Councillor and won. Not only is she a migrant child, but she is also young and a fierce fighter against the hostile immigration system and other injustices. After the fatigue wrought by the campaign against the Nationality and Borders Bill and the despair that accompanied its enactment, our members’ spirits were uplifted by the success story of Roza Salih. Everyone wanted to be a future version of the Glasgow Girl.”
More about These Walls Must Fall
We are already living under a hostile environment. Now, the Borders Bill is a threat to the Refugee Convention, the Policing Bill seeks to criminalise protest and the Human Rights Act is under attack.
We need to come together to resist these challenges, and fight for an alternative society. We need to fight to defend and extend our rights. We need a movement based on radical solidarity, to counter the government’s racist hostile environment. That movement must come from and be led by the grassroots, the people at the sharp end. And it needs solidarity from across all communities.
14 May was a very powerful day when we witnessed so much love, solidarity and compassion across so many communities, all fighting to end the Hostile Environment and fighting for dignity of all migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum.
Let’s continue this fight during Solidarity Knows No Borders Week of Action from 13 to 19 June!