The women in Yarl’s Wood demand FREEDOM. Don’t you?

Movement for Justice Freedom

The women imprisoned in Yarl’s Wood wore homemade t-shirts today. The shirts said FREEDOM. Though invisible to those outside, the message was heard loud and clear. Brought together by the Movement for Justice, hundreds of people showed up at Yarl’s Wood today, with one message. FREEDOM! Shut it down now! Never open it again! Set her free! #SetHerFree #ShutItDown. Dignity! FREEDOM! The crowd united diverse communities and organizations. Women chanted from one side of the fence surrounding the prison, and the women inside Yarl’s Wood responded, amplifying the demand to shut it down, now and forever. Women inside, women formerly inside, and women never inside are organizing, and each day, their numbers grow and, more importantly, each day they grow closer and closer. A lesson of this movement to shut down immigration detention centers, once and for all, is written in diminishing spaces-between. The State chose an architecture of division and conquest, and the people responded, FREEDOM! Freedom unites. Since last year, each demonstration at Yarl’s Wood has literally been closer to the prison than the preceding one. FREEDOM is drawing nigh.

Increasingly, the women inside Yarl’s Wood are communicating directly with their sister supporters surrounding Yarl’s Wood. Today, for example, when those outside shouted, “What do you want?” The women inside responded, “We want FREEDOM!” And their shouts were heard and then broadcast. When the women inside Yarl’s Wood waved clothes, banners, signs reading SOS, they were legible to those outside. They were legible and audible because the distances-between are being eroded. Demonstrations are coming closer and closer; under cover news cameras are entering with greater facility; and former Yarl’s Wood prisoners are bringing the call for FREEDOM not only to the gates of Yarl’s Wood but also to the heart of the public.

Today, for example, Raja Khouja, 56 years old, recalled her time inside, “Along with my husband, Mahmoud, and all of the other detainees we were treated like animals. My husband is a diabetic and had his medication withheld for hours, we were unable to get the money given to us by a friend so we could contact the outside world, it was awful. There were women in there who were pregnant, or who had been detained while their children were put into the social care, and it was heart-breaking to see them just breaking down.”

In March, 2015, the women in Yarl’s Wood wore t-shirts they’d made, which read, “We are not animals.” Today, their message is shorter: FREEDOM! The women in Yarl’s Wood demand FREEDOM. Don’t you?


(Photo Credit: (Video Credit: / Movement for Justice)

About Dan Moshenberg

Dan Moshenberg is an organizer educator who has worked with various social movements in the United States and South Africa. Find him on Twitter at @danwibg.