DIANNE NGOZA describes the dehumanising conditions migrants face when detained inside the controversial and privately operated Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre
AFTER I signed at Dallas Court Immigration Reporting Centre in Salford I was requested to go to another office. Then I knew something was very wrong. The officer gave me a form: an agreement for my deportation. I told him, point blank: “I am not going to sign anything.” I was thoroughly searched and they took everything and shoved me into a small room with a tiny toilet. I was locked in and there was junk food on the table. Another lady was brought in. ? I was told that I was going to be deported. I asked the immigration officer: “Could I please speak to my lawyer?” At first she didn’t want to allow it but I insisted. I told him what happened and said: “Please tell Rapar, outside, that I’ve been detained.” Then there was a lot of noise coming from outside and I was blamed for everything. The immigration officers said: “It’s because of you that all this is happening. It’s now going to distract everyone.” They gave me the paperwork and when I asked if I could fax it to my lawyer they actually refused: “We are not going to help you in any way at this moment because you have caused a lot of havoc.” ?? The first time they took me out to go to the van, as we were trying to drive out, Jamal (sat in front of the immigration removal van). To Jamal — thank you so much to try and put your life for me. I’ve never been so touched in my life. You know the Home Office, these people, they can never make me cry, but people who are so compassionate, you make me cry.? It took more than four hours to get to Yarl’s Wood. You’re treated totally like a prisoner. They search you, do fingerprints, and the following day is the same thing. They wake you up, the way the system is, it is designed to bring fear upon the detainees. They want to psychologically defeat you. The whole night you hear people walking up and down, those boots, that noise, boom, boom, up and down.
You can’t sleep, you keep on waking up, keep on thinking: “Are they coming for me? Are they coming for me?” And in the whole day you don’t have time to sit with anyone. You will be called to legal, called here, called there. It’s like they don’t want you to have time — even to think — they keep you running up and down like a robot. It’s like they’ve got a remote control to switch you, to make you go everywhere they want you to go.?? When they are deporting people, they take them when nobody is looking. If they are doing the right thing, why would they do that? They sneak them out. We never knew what time people would be deported, we just knew: “Oh, that person has disappeared.” They are bringing people in, in number, each night, and deporting them.?? There is one lady who has disappeared. Her name is Emma Ndosi from Tanzania. They had come about five times to take her but couldn’t because she had resisted. She was about this height (Dianne’s hand rises to about 12 inches above her own head). She was only about 30kg, she was so emaciated. Last Saturday, after the demonstration outside Yarl’s Wood, there was no response from her phone. People started phoning Tanzania and they said they were also looking for her, but she hadn’t arrived.
Dianne Ngoza is a nurse and human rights activist.