Hunger Striker Dies in UK Immigrant Detention Center

Hunger Striker Dies in UK Immigrant Detention CenterHunger Striker Dies in UK Immigrant Detention Center

A detainee has allegedly died under unconfirmed circumstances in one of the UK’s immigration detention centers, which are in the midst of hunger strikes by detainees over sub-standard housing conditions in several facilities.

It’s thought the 33-year-old had severe health problems, but unconfirmed reports say the inmate did not receive proper treatment, which in turn caused him to die. These claims come from another inmate at a nearby facility.

“He was not well,” Agha Abbas Haider, another inmate told RT over the phone. “They’ve known for a couple of days that he’s not well… they had come, all of a sudden, because he was in a critical situation. They took him from the cell, they tried to give him treatment and some were [saying] that ‘he is dead.’”

Several hundred asylum seekers at Harmondsworth detention center, near London’s Heathrow Airport, have been on hunger strike since Monday. A reported 300 migrants are participating in the strike at the detention facility, which houses around 620 men. Hunger strikes and protests have been breaking out in similar centers since last week.

  Inadequate Healthcare

Many of the detainees have taken to Twitter and Facebook to share their experiences. One Harmondsworth hunger striker reported Wednesday that several people had collapsed from lack of food and water.

Britain’s Home Office estimates that some 30,000 migrants and asylum seekers are detained indefinitely in the country while their immigration status is resolved. Many are held for months or even years.

In an open letter to the Home Office, detainees submitted a list of grievances. They complain of inadequate healthcare and access to legal service, noting that sometimes no legal counsel is provided for them at all.

  Like Animals

Many first-person detainee accounts are also being published on the Detained Voices website.

“Nobody’s listening, nobody defends us,” one detainee said in a telephone recording obtained by RT. “It’s not humanity. They are treating us like we are animals or less than animals.”

“Stop keep[ing] people in detention without any reason,” he urged. These thousands of migrants are detained under the controversial Detained Fast Track (DTF) program, which was set up in 2002 to deal with the uptick in asylum applications. Since 2008, The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has expressed concern about the program, calling it unfair.