OUSU: #ShutDownYarlsWood

OUSU Council passed a motion on Wednesday that resolves to support protests in Bedfordshire against Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre on 12th March.

The endorsement follows successful motions at Magdalen JCR and Wadham SU to support the demonstrations by donating £250 each.

Proposed by OUSU Vice-President for Women Lucy Delaney and Hannah-Lily Lanyon, OUSU’s motion notes that “human rights abuses take place in Yarl’s Wood, and there have been allegations of sexual violence, a crime which is particularly traumatic for those escaping confl ict in which rape is used as a weapon.”

It resolves to update similar policy passed in Trinity Term 2014 concerning Campsfield Immigration Removal Centre. The Campsfield policy prior to modifi cation stated that Campsfield “should be closed as part of a programme to drastically reduce and ultimately end immigration detention in the UK” and that government policy cannot remain unchanged given “the demands of natural justice”.

It has been amended to change the title to “Campsfield, Yarl’s Wood and other Immigration Removal Centres” and to add mention of Yarl’s Wood and other centres throughout the policy’s text.

Rather than donating to Movement for Justice as the two college JCRs did in order to subsidise coaches to and from the protests, OUSU intends a more media-focused strategy, such as inclusion in the OUSU President’s weekly newsletter.

Lanyon told Cherwell, “OUSU is a powerful platform to address social justice. Every student body should have a place to express their dissent against injustices like Yarl’s Wood and other detention centres, and as a group we have a greater impact – OUSU is a place to vocalise our anger against the government’s current racist and homophobic detention policy in a louder voice.

“Campsfield is a male detention centre whereas Yarl’s Wood is for women, and I think it’s important that we support all genders,” Lanyon added. “The women at Yarl’s Wood can benefi t from our solidarity as Oxford in particular is a highly visible, venerated university with much media coverage, which can enable their campaign to gain greater awareness.”

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OUSU plans to achieve this by working in partnership with the Common Rooms which have already passed motions against detention centres, and encouraging others to use the template they have set up to facilitate the process. Lanyon said she hopes that through, “An intercollege support movement as well as overarching OUSU support we can build a really strong campaign against detention centres and have Oxford lead as a pioneering university opposed to racist and homophobic detention laws.

“Both Oxford and Yarl’s Wood are bubbles. However, where Oxford is an elite bubble of privilege, Yarl’s Wood and other detention centres are virtual prisons in which inmates’ human rights are regularly abused.”