Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 15:10 UK

Asylum seekers on hunger strike

Campsfield detention centre
Campsfield was converted to a detention centre in 1993

About 60 people are taking part in a hunger strike started by 13 Iraqi Kurds at an Oxfordshire immigration centre.

Detainees at Campsfield House, in Kidlington, have said they are taking the action in protest at being forced to return to Iraq.

The Home Office said only "a small number of detainees" were involved and the situation was "under control".

Campsfield, which holds some 200 asylum seekers and foreign prisoners, has been the subject of a campaign to close it.

'Refused meals'

Fazzel Abdul, one of the detainees who has been in the UK for seven years, told BBC News that the hunger strike had been started by 13 Kurdish asylum seekers on Saturday in protest at their continuing detention.

He said other asylum seekers from around the world had joined them and about 60 in total were now taking action.

He said: "Without any reason we are being held here and they are trying to deport us to the most dangerous country in the world.

"We want people to listen to us. We are refusing all food and water and we will keep going.

"Kawa, one of the asylum seekers, collapsed earlier today. A doctor was called but Kawa was not treated and is continuing the hunger strike.

"It is better to be dead than to return to Iraq."

He said they were calling on the authorities to release them from the detention centre and to stop the policy of forcibly deporting Iraqi Kurds.

Mr Abdul said he would be killed if he was sent back to Iraq.

'Treated like animals'

Gill Baden, from the Campaign to Close Campsfield, said other detainees joined the hunger strike to protest against the conditions at the centre.

She said they had told her they were being " treated like animals", were not told why they were being held there and had not been offered any legal help.

A spokesperson for the UK Border Agency said: "A small number of detainees at Campsfield have refused their meals in recent days.

"The situation is under control and the matter is under review.

"But we have got our priorities straight. In 2007 we deported the highest ever number of foreign lawbreakers, up by a huge 80% and we are committed to removing those who have no legal basis to stay in the UK."

Since it opened in 1993, the centre has seen a number of disturbances including escapes, a rooftop protest, more hunger strikes and a campaign to have it shut.

The centre has been the subject of a long campaign demanding its closure.

In June, seven detainees escaped in an overnight break-out. Four were later recaptured but three remain missing.

In December 2007, more than 120 detainees had to be moved to other centres after a disturbance, which was quelled by riot police.

It had broken out in one of three blocks on the site when officers tried to move a detainee ready for deportation.




SEE ALSO
Campsfield claims 'unsurprising'
15 Jul 08 |  Oxfordshire
Riot alert at immigration centre
14 Jun 08 |  Oxfordshire
Criticism after centre break-out
06 Aug 07 |  Oxfordshire
Mass escape from detention centre
05 Aug 07 |  Oxfordshire
Detainees' hunger strike on hold
03 Aug 07 |  Oxfordshire

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Globe and Mail 76 - 12 hrs ago
Banbury Cake Hugner-strike detainee collapses - 14 hrs ago
Oxford Mail Hunger striker collapses claim - 17 hrs ago
Portsmouth Today Hunger strike at immigration centre - 38 hrs ago
Teletext Detainees on hunger strike - 39 hrs ago



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