The closure of Dungavel? The fight must continue

By Pinar Aksu.  Pinar works with Migrant Voice as a Community Development worker in Glasgow and with Active Inquiry using Theatre of the Oppressed methods and is also a member of Right to Remain’s management committee.  She has been involved with asylum and refugee rights since a young age.

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I’m experiencing mixed feelings. As much as I am very happy that it’s been announced that the only detention centre in Scotland will be shut, I also have worries about what it would be replaced with and what it will mean for refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland.

When my family was detained in 2007, twice in Dungavel for 4 days and once in Yarl’s Wood for 2 months, I never knew what detention was.  As I got older, it was then when I noticed the injustice my family and many others went through. Locking people in prison-like detention centres while seeking asylum for safety and future is horrible. Knowing that Dungavel will be gone will erase the memories of my and many families who were detained there.

When I first read the news headline, ‘Dungavel immigration detention centre to close’, I was extremely happy. I knew that finally, after years of campaigning for the rights and freedom of detainees, we have finally achieved a major victory. I knew that this terrible place where innocent people have been being detained will be gone. Even though this will never bring back the time lost when  people were being detained, for days, weeks, months and years, it would bring an end to the pain in the future. People will be free!

However, as I continued reading the article, I found that not everything is as positive as it sounds at first. The government had plans for a ‘short-term facility’ near Glasgow Airport.   UK Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill says, ‘The new short-term holding facility would provide easy access to London airports, from where most removals take place, meaning those with no right to be in the UK can be removed with less delay’.

People could be removed quicker with the new short-term facility; either to detention centres in England or back to their country of origin. By making this move, the Home Office thinks they can stop us, in Scotland, from campaigning. Wrong! We will campaign more than ever before because we cannot watch money being spent on building walls in Calais or watch the implementation of the Immigration Act 2016 and the scrapping of the Human Rights Act. Now more than ever, we will not and we cannot stop campaigning. We will stand together, organise apply pressure until every detention centre is closed.

No human is illegal. End detention now.

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