On Saturday 9th August thirteen Kurdish detainees went on hunger strike in Campsfield detention centre, opposing their threatened deportation. They fear for their lives and were understandably upset when another asylum seeker, 35 year old Hussein Ali, killed himself a few days earlier after being deported to Kurdistan by the UK authorities.
One of the detainees, Fazzel Abdul, 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. It is better to be dead than to return to Iraq."
The detainees are understandably worried about the number of deaths among those who are deported and see this as literally a struggle of life and death. Despite sickness (with limited or no medical attention) and abuse from some of the guards they are determined to see this fight through.
The initial small group has now been joined by between fifty and sixty other detainees in a mass protest against separation from their families in the UK and the amount of time some have them have spent incarcerated in Campsfield. One detainee managed to get on to the roof of the detention centre yesterday but came down after a number of hours; he is now in the Health Care unit at the detention centre.
One detainee, named Benji, told the Oxford Mail that "I have been here for 11 months and I am prepared to stay on hunger strike until my last breath.
"I have no idea when my case will be dealt with and the only way for people to pay attention is for one of us to die. One of the detainees from Iraq is in a critical condition and he should have been taken to hospital but I don't think he is getting the proper treatment.
"Lots of detainees are lying on the floor because they feel so weak - they have no energy any more."
The terrible conditions of those seeking asylum in this country is, of course, only part of the problem - in that the very idea that our government should be sending people "back" to places where they may very well die because they are not one of "us" is morally repugnant.
There will be a demo tomorrow (Saturday) at midday outside the camp (Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxfordshire, OX5 1RE) which you might like to join if you are in that part of the country. You might also like to fax your dismay at the treatment of refugees to the detention centre direct at 01865 377723.
To get in contact with the solidarity group email Dave Stamp or you might like to get in touch with the Close Campsfield group at firstname.lastname@example.org you can also subscribe to their email group by sending a blank email here.
You may also want to keep an eye on Indymedia Oxford for updates.