Yarls Wood Set Her Free protest 2015

Finn Mackay. Speech at protest Yarl’s Wood; Set Her Free with Women for Refugee Women

This place is ground-zero for so many causes that you all here care deeply about. It is right here on this site that our concerns for human rights are raised. That our concerns about UK foreign policy are raised. Our concerns about cuts to Legal Aid. Concerns about the rights of lesbian and bisexual women asylum seekers. Concerns about social housing. About the destruction of our welfare state. About male violence against women.

Right here, this is the front line of so many struggles for social justice.
People here in Britain care about the stories behind those fences and most know that the women detained here are not criminals and nor should they be treated as criminals. The real criminals are those in the media, and in right wing and racist political groups and parties who seek to hide the truth of this place, by erasure or by misrepresentation. And rather than remedying the growing inequality in our country, rather than remedying the poverty that so many people find themselves in, rather than remedying the decimation of so many towns and cities still scarred by the Thatcher years; these criminals seek to fool us into scapegoating innocent people like those trapped in Yarls Wood right now.

Women fleeing torture, rape, persecution and death threats in their own countries did not cause the banking crisis here. Women and children desperately trying to start a new life where they can thrive safely in our supposedly free country did not sell off our social housing stock or give your local GP surgery to Richard Branson. Blame the architects of those policies, not the people who are harmed by them.
In fact the women who have made their way here, who have fled for their lives, who have endured dangerous journeys to reach a better life for them and their families are surely just the sort of entrepreneurial people we need here in Britain. Their strength and courage is to be commended, not punished.

This is not the first time we have gathered here outside this place to protest at the existence of Yarls Wood. But one day, and one day soon, it will be the last. Because soon we will protest here for the last time; because the world is waking up and because one day this place will be consigned to the history books, and recognised as the shame on Britain that it is and the shame on our humanity that it is.

Set her Free

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