NWDC: Despite Threats and Retaliation, Hunger Strikers Continue Protest ICE Ignores Demands for Improved Conditions

NWDC: RELEASE May 4, 2017
Despite Threats and Retaliation, Hunger Strikers Continue Protest
ICE Ignores Demands for Improved Conditions

Tacoma, WA/The Dalles, OR – Immigrants held at ICE facilities in two states – the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), run by GEO Group, and NORCOR, a rural public jail – continued their hunger strike today, despite growing weakness from lack of food. The exponential growth of immigration detention has led ICE to contract the function of detaining immigrants out to both private prison companies and to county governments, with both treating immigrants as a source of profit.

ICE has been using NORCOR as ‘overflow’ detention space for immigrants held at NWDC, and is regularly transferring people back and forth from the NWDC to NORCOR. People held at NORCOR have limited access to lawyers and to the legal documents they need to fight and win their deportation cases. They are often transferred back to NWDC only for their hearings, then shipped back to NORCOR, where they face terrible conditions. Jessica Campbell of the Rural Organizing Project affirmed, “No one deserves to endure the conditions at NORCOR – neither the immigrants ICE is paying to house there, nor the people of Oregon who end up there as part of criminal processes. It’s unsafe for everyone.”

The strike began on April 10th, when 750 people at the NWDC began refusing meals. The protest spread to NORCOR this past weekend. Maru Mora Villalpando of NWDC Resistance confirmed, “It’s very clear from our contact with people inside the facilities and with family members of those detained that the hunger strike continues in both Oregon and Washington State.” She continued, “The question for us is, how will ICE assure that the abuses that these whistle-blowing hunger strikers have brought to light are addressed?”

From the beginning of the protest, instead of using the strike as an opportunity to look into the serious concerns raised by the hunger strikers, ICE and GEO have both denied the strike is occurring and retaliated against strikers. Hunger strikers have been transferred to NORCOR in retaliation for their participation. One person who refused transfer to NORCOR was put in solitary confinement.

Just this week, hunger striking women have been threatened with forced feeding – a practice that is recognized under international law to be torture. In an attempt to break their spirit, hunger strikers have been told the strike has been ineffective and that the public is ignoring it.

Hunger striker demands terrible conditions inside detention center be addressed- including the poor quality of the food, the $1 a day pay, and the lack of medical care. They also call for more expedited court proceedings and the end of transfers between detention facilities. Hunger strikers consistently communicate, “We are doing this for our families.” Despite their incredibly oppressive conditions, locked away and facing deportation in an immigration prison in the middle of an industrial zone and in a rural county jail, hunger strikers have acted collectively and brought national attention to the terrible conditions they face and to the ongoing crisis of deportations, conditions the U.S. government must address.

For live updates, visit https://www.facebook.com/NWDCResistance/.

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Hunger Strike at Texas Detention Center Swells Into the Hundreds

This comes from the RH Reality Check Reporter

by Kanya D’Almeida, Race and Justice Reporter, RH Reality Check
November 2, 2015

The number of hunger strikers at a Texas immigrant detention facility has swelled to almost 500 since last Wednesday, an Austin-based advocacy group revealed in a phone call with RH Reality Check.

When news of the protest action broke on October 28, about 27 women at the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, 35 miles east of Austin, were reportedly refusing their meals.

While grievances ranged from abusive treatment by guards to a lack of medical care, the women, hailing primarily from Central America, were unanimous in their one demand: immediate release.

The strike snowballed over the weekend, according to Grassroots Leadership, an organization that forms part of a larger umbrella group known as Texans United for Families (TUFF).

 

Read the rest here.

USA: 750 immigration detainees on hunger strike

A story from the site of AP

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Immigrant-rights activists rallied outside the Northwest Detention Center on Saturday, while at least 750 detainees protested their treatment and called for an end to deportations with a hunger strike.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department said on Saturday morning that 750 detainees had refused to eat and said they were on a hunger strike.

Activist Maru Mora Villalpando said the hunger strike started Friday as a protest of deportations as well as center conditions. She said the hunger strikers, who she believes number more than 1,000, are seeking better food and treatment as well as better pay for center jobs.

“We are concerned for their welfare, and we support their brave stand against inhumane treatment. We are gravely concerned about retaliation, particularly against the hunger-strike leaders,” Villalpando said.

The center currently houses nearly 1,300 people being investigated for possible deportation.

Read the rest here.

Immigrant Stories: The nurse, the detention centre & the women with bruises

From: Politics.co.uk
By Ian Dunt, Feb. 5, 2014

An occasional series of Immigrant Stories, shining a light on the people trapped in Britain’s immigration system.

“I was working in a local hospital when I saw these women come in with handcuffs on,” Susan says.

Susan is not her real name. She talks on condition of anonymity.

“I asked about it. It was clear they’d committed no crime.

“They’d been hunger striking in the corridors of the nearby detention centre. They were grabbed by the guards.

“The nursing notes said they had no injuries and were fine. When I saw them they clearly had wrist bruises which they sustained in Yarl’s Wood. There were bruises on their backs as well. They were very distressed.”

Susan’s experience left her disturbed. Why were women who had committed no crime arriving in handcuffs, bruised, under detention?

A little while later she read a newspaper report about Yarl’s Wood. Security personnel were guarding the perimeter fence against a reverend dressed as Santa trying to give gifts to the children locked up inside.

Read the rest here.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s new Directive on Segregation: Why We Need Further Protections

New Report:
In the press:

U.S. Solitary Confinement Practices of Immigrant Detainees Deficient: International Human Rights Students, Experts at John Marshall in Chicago

From: PR Web, Feb. 5, 2014

New research from the International Human Rights Clinic at The John Marshall Law School details deficiencies in current U.S. detention practices, as well as recommends measures to ensure immigrant detainees are protected and treated humanely.
Read the rest here.

Palpable desperation: Inside the invisible world of immigration detention

Reblogged from: New Statesman, Nov. 9th 2013
By Katharine Sacks-Jones

The reports of sexual abuse at the Yarl’s Wood detention centre were sadly not much of a surprise to people who work with immigration detainees.

Recent reports of sexual abuse at Yarl’s Wood shine a small spotlight on the otherwise invisible world of immigration detention. They detail how guards preyed on isolated women, subjecting them to unwanted advances, using their positions of power to coerce them into sexual acts. Shocking yes. But sadly not much of a surprise to people who work with immigration detainees.

As a trustee of a small charity, Bail for Immigration Detainees, I visited Yarl’s Wood late last year. The desperation was palpable. One of the women I met had heavily bandaged wrists. She was on 24-hour suicide watch after one failed attempt to take her own life. She, like others I spoke to, was desperate to get out of what is little more than a prison. With 30,000 people detained per year, these women are far from rare.

Many people in detention – both men and women – are incredibly vulnerable. They are often fleeing violence and persecution. About half have claimed asylum. Some have been the victims of torture and rape.  To have faced and survived such trauma, to have undertaken a difficult journey to get away, to have left behind loved ones and the world that you know, to then reach supposed safety only to be locked up is a cruel irony. And to be detained with no release date and no time-limit must be utterly hopeless.

It is little surprise that detention is incredibly damaging. Self-harm and detention go hand in hand, with studies suggesting there are higher levels of suicide and self-harm amongst detained immigrants than amongst the prison population. The impacts on physical and mental ill health are well-documented – severe distress and depression as a result of detention are common.

Read the rest here.

Hunger-Thirst strike in Dutch deportation centers (NL)

People inside immigrant detention centers in The Netherlands (Rotterdam / Schiphol – Amsterdam) are on a hunger strike. Now several are also refusing to drink. We need to show support and make politicians act now!

From: Getting the Voice Out / Deportatieverzet:

CALL FOR SOLIDARITY WITH HUNGER AND THIRST STRIKERS IN DETENTION CENTERS IN THE NETHERLANDS

Public indictment against the system of repression we call Fortress Europe

About 60 asylum seekers in detention center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, have been in hunger strike for four days now. 18 of them also stopped drinking since Wednesday 8th of May. They are protesting against the asylum policy that criminalizes refugees: they get thrown out on the streets without money or shelter and they get detained in prisons for up to 18 months. The refugees on hunger strike demand not to be treated as criminals anymore. They clearly statedthey want freedom and protection.

Wave of hunger strikes

Wednesday May 1st, twenty refugees in detention center Schiphol went on hunger strike. While the guards brutally broke down the strike in Schiphol, by putting the hunger strikers in isolation cells, about 80 refugees in detention center Rotterdam started a hunger strike on Monday 6th of May. One day later,fifty women in detention center Brugge (Belgium) also went on hunger strike.
A thirst strike is even more dangerous than a hunger strike: the latter can last for 40 days before people get in a critical situation, whereas a person who does not drink will be dead after one week.

Government arrogance

The Dutch government has shown an unbelievable arrogance in this matter.

At first, they did not respond to the demands of the refugees at all. One parliament member of the ruling party People’s Party of Freedom and Democracy (VVD) even went as far as to say the refugees “were taking the government hostage” by going on hunger strike. Then, as late as Thursday 9th May, they “provided” a worthless “offer”. In return for the end of the hunger strike, the government “offered” to shorten the usual 17 hours a day detainees are locked inside their cell with a few hours.

The hunger and thirst strikers of course rejected this ridiculous proposal and they will continue with their protest.

But things are getting very serious right now. As of Friday the third day without water begins for the refugees who have no other means of getting their voice out than to go on a hunger or thirst strike.

Refugees searching for a better life get thrown into a Kafkaesk bureaucracy of having to provide proof that doesn’t exist in order to get their permit to stay. Once rejected, undocumented refugees get thrown out on the streets and get denied basic human rights, such as food, shelter, work and health care. Racist police hunt them down and jail them. In detention, refugees are stripped from their dignity, their autonomy, their lives and their future. Once deported, no one ever hears from them again.

Right now, refugees in detention center Rotterdam are directly and unmistakeably demanding their rights and their freedom.
The government will have to respond very quickly and adequately, if they don’t want to be held responsible for dozens of deaths.

Call for solidarity

We are strongly calling for solidarity from our friends throughout Europe. Solidarity with the hunger and thirst strikers in special; and with refugees in general. The state is aimed at excluding everyone who is not directly exploitable by capital. Make it known how this insane migration policy of repression destroys the lives of hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Show your solidarity by spreading this message.

Print this letter and post it everywhere, preferably to walls that symbolize exclusion by Fortress Europe: parliament buildings, embassies, deportation offices, immigration offices, etc. Letter removed? Glue it again. Everywhere.

TOGETHER WE CAN FIGHT FORTRESS EUROPE!