Abri wrote this blog, the third of a series of three, for Detention Forum member Women for Refugee Women from inside Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre in July 2014.
I didn’t know how much of a crier I was until my time in Yarl’s wood; I have formed friendships with some extraordinary women, who have been through a lot in their lives; I have listened to a woman detail her story of how she has been travelling for the past 14 years of her life and how she was smuggled into the country in a fridge. But the one that really touched my heart, mainly because of what she suffered in this country after all she had been through; locked up in Yarl’s wood for the past two years, is a woman I’m going to call 258, after her room number 258. To me this woman is brave, strong and courageous, she is a friend and her strength has brought me hope.
258 was detained in March 2011 and released in May 2014, after she had suffered a lot in many ways: her health had deteriorated, she had injured her back and she is now confined in a wheel chair. Throughout her time in detention she has been in and out of health care and solitary confinement and sometimes she was on suicide watch for many days. How she survived two years in Yarl’s wood I really don’t know, I won’t be able to make two years, I can’t do it.
I know from my 5 months experience how it feels, how much you miss even the small little things; just the other day my friend and I jumped at what sounded like a barking dog and we convinced ourselves it was a dog, even though in reality it couldn’t have been, because of where we are in the middle of a Business Park. I know how long a day seems and some days you just can’t take it, You want to scream from the top of your lungs, let me out, I want to go out! But the fear of solitary confinement always stops me.
This doesn’t even begin to explain what 258 went through, two years of her life confide in Yarl’s wood, the cost on her health, the pains of her heart, the awful memories of her past and the fears of being forgotten and the careless regard for her life. It sure seemed like human rights didn’t apply to her. What makes me angry about 258’s story is the fact that after two years of detention, the case continues unresolved. For me this is a miscarriage of justice. 258 deserves her freedom and accountability for the loss of two years of her life.