Lingyun Xu Wan
(LNC) — Dungavel is the only Immigration Removal Centre in Scotland and can basically hold approximately 250 people, but with a very bad reputation, till since years, Human rights activists have called for its shutting down.
On May 2015, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) general secretary Grahame Smith said: “Detention is a blight on our immigration system. Detainees can be held for an indefinite period, with some being held for months and even years.
The effect of indefinite detention on the people in the system is severe, with many suffering from mental health issues as a result of how the system works.
We are holding this demonstration to shine a light on the plight to people being held in detention centres across the UK, and it should not be forgotten that children are still held in detention centres outside of Scotland.
We also renew our demand to the Home Office to allow us to visit detainees together to hear at first hand of any difficulties they are facing and to provide such support for them as we are able to give.”
Pressure group, We Will Rise, organised the demonstration and members branded Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre “racist and inhumane”.
An investigation by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) slammed it as “depressing” and “dirty”.
The centre holds more than 600 men. The IMB found that it has “a destructive effect on the welfare of detainees”.
It reported how one migrant sewed his mouth shut in protest at the conditions and was unable to “eat, drink or medicate”.
Only known as Mr U he wrote a note which said, “Release me or send me home.”
He spent nearly nine months in detention and was later released.
Hunger strikes have also been taking place at Harmondsworth.
The report said the government should “urgently” set up an independent review into the practice of keeping detainees locked up for more than a year.
A CAR CITIZEN IN TURMOIL
Zacharie Cyriaque, a former Olympic athlete from CAR, who competed as a javelin thrower at the Olympic Games in 1992 in Barcelona and in 1996 in Atlanta, seeks later asylum in the UK.
But in return, he fought back the tears as he talked about being locked in cramped, squalid and uncomfortable conditions at the holding centre.
Zacharie spent nearly a month in Dungavel on two separate occasions during a period of several weeks being shunted around immigration detention centres in the UK.
Two days ago, he was just one of 500 protesters who travelled to the centre for an event organised by the asylum rights group “We Will Rise“.
Campaigners spent nearly five hours marching around the perimeter fence of the centre, which is run by the Home Office, as they chanted slogans, danced and loudly banged drums.
Cyriaque was returning to Dungavel less than a year after being released following a legal challenge to his detention in 2015, although he still faces a battle with the immigration authorities against deportation.
The former professional athlete was one of a handful of former Dungavel detainees who gave speeches in their own language at a rally held towards the end of the protest.
Speaking afterwards, Cyriaque, who was visibly upset as he recounted his time in Dungavel, said: “It beings back the trauma to go there today, but people need to know about what’s happening. I feel very fragile now, all the time and keep thinking I’ll get taken back there. They wanted to deport me, but if I was sent back I’d be at real risk. The Central African Republic is a very dangerous place.”
Cyriaque was detained by the immigration authorities during a night raid after his claim for asylum on the grounds of political persecution was rejected, which led to him being held at a Home Office detention centre in Manchester, as well as at Dungavel.
He lodged his original claim with the Home Office when he was in London for the Paralympics in 2012, as part of the coaching set up for the CAR team.
“After my claim was refused I was taken there in the night as if I were a thief and all my belongings were taken from me. It was like a prison and the thing was so traumatic that I lot my appetite.
“It was such a traumatic time and I didn’t feel like I was a human being. It was disgusting and they took away my dignity while I was there.”
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May 2016 LAMINE MEDIA