Thought of as places for temporary detention, some immigration removal centres have become more like prisons where human rights are frequently violated. Morton Hall is one of them. Due to the deaths of two people there in the last few weeks, there will be a protest on the 11th of March to close its doors.
What was first a women’s prison and then a men’s prison was reopened as an immigration removal centre at the start of 2011. In the brief period since then, various incidents have occurred that have been subject to criticism.
In September 2014, three years after its opening, Bangladeshi Rubel Ahmed died while imprisoned in Morton Hall. The 26 years old had been detained two months earlier while working in a restaurant in Kent, and was waiting to be deported back to his country after having been in the UK for five years.
The inmates state that at about 9:30 pm, Ahmed started calling for help, complaining of pain in his chest. Witnesses say that while calling for help, he was hitting and kicking the door. Two hours must have passed before an ambulance arrived, but it was already too late. Rubel had already died.
The other immigrants detained began to riot, while Rubel’s family only got the news a day later and had a further two week wait for the body.
The Home Office claimed that it had been suicide, which generated huge protests and a petition for a full independent enquiry.
A few months later, the tension returned to Morton Hall. A considerable number of occupants of the 329 rooms started a hunger strike in solidarity with the immigrants detained in the detention centre in Harmondsworth. The reasons were not new to anyone: overcrowding, mistreatment and detentions that lasted years.
According to figures compiled by the Institute for Race Relations, 29 immigrants have died in different detention centres in the UK since 1989. Three of them lost their lives in Morton Hall. In the last few weeks, three detainees have died, two of them in this centre, located just a few miles from Lincoln and one hour from Nottingham.
At the top of the list is Harmondsworth with eight deaths, Colnbrook with five, Yarl’s Wood and Morton Hall with three, and two in Campsfield, Haslar, and The Verne.
This tragic situation appears unrelenting, and so the South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group has organised a protest to demand the closing of immigration removal centres and to show solidarity with those detained inside Morton Hall.
Armed with banners and instruments, their aim is to continue raising awareness about a situation that affects thousands of immigrants detained across the UK, and to be heard by those on the other side of the wall of Morton Hall.
Date: Saturday 11th March, 2017, 12 pm. Location: Morton Hall Village, Swinderby, Lincoln, LN6 9PT. More information here.
Photos: Pixabay y www.symaag.org.uk – (Translated by Lucy Daghorn – Email: email@example.com)