Refugee Tales #28for28


Refugee Tales and Comma Press are running ’28 Tales for 28 Days’ (#28for28) as part of a campaign to highlight the call for a 28 day time limit for immigration detention.

Rooted in the work of the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, and supported by the University of Kent, Refugee Tales shares the tales of those who have been indefinitely detained in immigration detention. The UK is the only country in Europe that detains people indefinitely for administrative purposes without judicial oversight.

Refugee Tales is releasing 28 tales online – one each day over 28 days. Here actor Niamh Cusack tells us more about why the project is so important.

‘I was shopping for sheets in Marks and Spencer’s when my mobile phone rang and a fellow actress, Maggie McCarthy, asked me whether I would host an evening of music , poetry and stories as part of a five day walk to raise awareness of the plight of refugees enduring Indefinite Detention.

I had no idea what Indefinite Detention was. I had no idea that people who had already suffered torture, the loss of their homes, loss of members of their family, their livelihoods, people who had come to this country, as a last resort ,seeking asylum and safety , would then have to undergo the purgatory that is Indefinite Detention. Detention centres are like prisons. And perfectly innocent, decent people are treated like prisoners. They do not know how long they will have to endure living with no certain hope of a future or possibility of recovery from all that they have already suffered. Criminals get given a sentence . Psychologically, that means they can get their heads around the amount of time they will be imprisoned. Indefinite Detention gives detainees no such luxury. There is no time limit, no fixed date to the end of your incarceration. You don’t have a future that you can plan for.

The evening I “ hosted” was attended by ex -detainees, by volunteers who support them, visit them in detention , and offer care and compassion, by musicians, and writers and poets who have chronicled the tales they have been told. Real life stories that have been lived by real life people . People who have families and loved ones they haven’t seen for months and years. And may never see again. That is what was brought home to me that evening in Canterbury three years ago.

Since then, I have become friends with a number of detainees and volunteers. I feel privileged to know people who have survived so much and who can still smile. I feel privileged to know people who have opened their hearts and homes to less fortunate human beings.

Indefinite Detention is inhumane. It is a form of psychological torture. Britain is the only country in Europe that does not have a time limit on detention . This is not a question of whether you are for immigration or against. This is a question of whether you are for humanity or against.’