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Week 8: #Unlocked16 visits Colnbrook

In this week of Unlocking Detention, we visited Colnbrook detention centre next to Heathrow airport (and the high-security neighbour of Harmondsworth).

The first blog post of the week was a heartbreaking photo-essay by Jon from the Freed Voices group.  Jon shares the letters he received whilst he was detained at Colnbrook detention centre for 99 days last year. These letters – from his younger brother, mother, younger sister and father – provide a harrowing inside into the wider affects of indefinite detention on families and communities.

Read Colnbrook, by post

Next up was another visual essay, by Jay who has been detained in Colnbrook for 3 months. This is the second time he has been detained – he was previously released from detention in 2014.  Jay spoke to Ciara from Detention Action about the impact of detention and how for better or worse, drawing helps to focus his mind in difficult circumstances.  His incredible artwork and devastating story moved many people.

From a supporter on Facebook:

“I hope you can tell him that people are reading his words and understanding the art, and I for one would like to convey my deep concern for him and heartfelt wishes for a good future.”

And via the comments on the blog:

“This is an incredibly moving account by this young man. Being able to express his emotions in drawings is a gift that communicates his situation visually to others. Sometimes I am ashamed to be British, but feel glad I am free to say that. What he says’ one day God will judge this country the Home Office’ resonates with me on so many counts. Good luck my friend, I hope you can stay here until it is safe for you to return home.”

Read My Drawing is My Feeling

Nine months on from the death of Amir Siman Tov in Colnbrook, Michael Goldin reflected in his blog post for Unlocking Detention on the man he knew.

Read A Prison In All But Name

In a special piece for Unlocking Detention, published by Novara Media, Luke de Noronha wrote about the intimate connection between detention and deportation, sharing the stories and views of those deported to Jamaica: “The ghosts that begin to haunt people in detention, stay with them, and follow them to Jamaica”

Read A View From Jamaica

On the Friday of Colnbrook week, tragic news began to break of a death in Colnbrook, and that a murder investigation had been launched. 

We decided that the sharing of the Q and A with Ali should go ahead, as it was more important than ever to get the word out from detention, and share experiences of every day life there.  Because the Q and A wasn’t live, the interview didn’t mention the news of the death.  As ever, there were really thought-provoking questions and engaging, moving and fascinating answers.  Thank you Ali.

See the full Q and A here

It’s been great to hear how Unlocking Detention is reaching people, making people think, and encouraging people to take action (speaking of which – have you read this piece yet about asking your MP to demand the promised detention reform?)

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