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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 00:00 GMT 01:00 UK
Asylum protest ends peacefully
Haslar centre, Gosport
A major security operation took place at the centre
A protest by asylum seekers at a detention centre in Hampshire has ended peacefully, according to the Prison Service.

Negotiators and 70 prison office staff, including some in riot gear, helped defuse the demonstration by around 75 refugees at Haslar holding centre in Gosport.

The Prison Service, which runs the centre, said detainees had refused to leave their dormitories and some had refused meals.

There was no injury to the staff or to the detainees and the establishment is calm and well ordered

Prison Service spokesman
The situation is thought to have been sparked by the recent High Court ruling that the detention of four Iraqi Kurdish refugees at Oakington in Cambridgeshire was unlawful.

The sit-in at the centre, which holds up to 160 asylum seekers, started when the detainees refused to carry out their normal daily activities on Monday morning.

It followed a six-and-a-half hour protest on Sunday night when they refused to return to their sleeping quarters.

Mounting tension

Prison staff are believed to have withdrawn from the dormitories as a precautionary measure during the demonstration on Monday.

A small fire was lit and other minor damage was done to the building during the protest.

A Prison Service spokesman said the situation was brought under control at 2100BST following talks.

"There was no injury to the staff or to the detainees and the establishment is calm and well ordered," he said.

It is believed that tension has been mounting over the past few days as detainees were unhappy with the time taken to deal with their applications.

Haslar is a detention centre for immigration detainees and holds some asylum seekers.

It is understood that a number of asylum seekers were taken to Winchester Prison.

Oxfordshire protest

Meanwhile, Home Office officials have met with a group of asylum seekers on hunger strike at one of Britain's largest immigration detention centres.

About 90 people started the protest at Campsfield House, Kidlington in Oxfordshire, on Saturday.

By Monday, more than 60 were still said to be refusing food.

The High Court judgment from Mr Justice Collins on the Kurdish refugees will not fully come into effect until 5 October and the Home Office has indicated it intends to continue current practices while it appeals.

If the ruling is upheld, it could mean the government having to pay out millions of pounds in compensation.

The BBC's Steve Humphrey
"A team of negotiators is trying to bring the protest to an end"
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