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Welcome to Release Carnival!

April 19, 2010

In the week of International Children’s Day, on the 5th of June 2010, SOAS Detainee Support (SDS) will host RELEASE CARNIVAL – Supported by Colin Firth, Clare Sambrook, End Child Detention Now, Refugee and Migrant Justice, The Outcry Campaign, STAR – Student Action for Refugees, The Helen Bamber Foundation, MP Jeremy Corbyn, Lib Dem Dave Ravel, No One Is Illegal and Citizens for Sanctuary.

“We were sleeping and the officer came. It was scary and Mum was crying.”

“They broke our house.”

“They were bashing and kicking the door.”

“It’s not nice going to the toilet in front of an officer.”

“I didn’t think it was real, not real life.”

Children, talking about their time in detention, from the Children’s Commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green’s follow-up report on Yarl’s Wood, February 2010.

Every year, about 1500 children are detained in one of the UK’s immigration removal centres. The average length of stay is 15 days, but many families stay for longer period of times. We know of cases, where a child had been detained for 190 days. Numerous reports from BiD, Refugee Migrant Justice, The Royal Colleges of Paediatrics and Child Health, General Practitioners and Psychiatrists and the UK Faculty of Public Health as well as other organisations have documented that detention has detrimental effects on children’s psychological and physical health, development and well-being. Professor Steve Field, Chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners says in his report:

Children in immigrant families are already disadvantaged and at their most vulnerable. Detaining children for any length of time – often without proper explanation – is a terrifying experience that can have lifelong consequences. As well as the potential psychological impact, these children invariably experience poor physical health as they cannot access immunisation and preventative services. As a civilised society, we cannot sit back and allow these practices to continue – they are unethical and unacceptable”

For these exact reasons, we are marching! We want to see the government abolish this appalling and damaging practice, and we want to show that there is wide support in the population to do so.

On Saturday the 5th June a united force of musicians, circus acts, choirs, dancers and clowns will join activists and ex-detainees with one goal: to unite the community against the abhorrent practice of detaining children for immigration purposes. And we are inviting you and your organisation to join us! We will assemble in Torrington Square, where speakers from Refugee Migrant Justice, BiD/Children’s Society, Liberty,and more will talk about children and families in detention, and we will enjoy choir and parkour performances.

The Carnival will assemble in Torrington Square (between Birkbeck and SOAS) with speakers including representatives from the Children’s Society, Bail for Immigration, Liberty and more. We will then process to Downing Street with juggling, clowns and live music- everything from from samba bands to church choirs and much more besides. Assemble at 12pm for speakers, workshops food and music. The march will start at 2pm and finish no later than 4pm in front of Downing Street where a small procession  will deliver a letter demanding a change in the policy of immigration detention.

We welcome the government’s pledge to end child detention, but feel that the issue is as important as ever! The government has announced that it will ‘review’ of child detention, but numerous reports have already been launched, documenting the harmful effects detention has on children. There are many alternatives, and we call for immediate release of all Yarl’s Wood and Dungavel families! There is no need to detain children and families any longer! At the same time, want to ensure that any alternatives to detention are humane and put the interest of the child first!

The day will be fun, inclusive and educational and a positive way of challenging one of the most odious and barbaric aspects of the immigration detention system. We hope you can join us!

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