From inside Colnbrook: my drawing is my feeling

Jay has been detained in Colnbrook for 3 months. This is the second time he has been detained – he was previously released from detention in 2014. In a very special interview for #Unlocked16, Jay spoke to Ciara about the impact of detention and how for better or worse, drawing helps to focus his mind in difficult circumstances. This article initially appeared on the Unlocking Detention website.

My drawing is my feeling. When I feel something bad or good I have to draw something. When I draw something bad, it’s because everything is bad and all day long it will feel like that. I don’t know how to explain, when I draw something it makes me feel no bad, no good, just to keep my mind busy. My drawing is to escape the torture.


I came to the UK to study English and to stay away for a little while, to keep safe, while the situation was not safe in my home country. I was very political before detention. At home I was involved with student protests – protesting education, protesting everything the government is doing to destroy my country. But freedom of expression is a problem.

DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] is not like the UK or Europe. When you say something the government doesn’t like, you can be in trouble with police or the army. I had to leave.


I didn’t leave my country to come here and claim asylum. But now my situation’s changed and it’s becoming more and more difficult for me to go home. I joined a resistance movement in the UK. They are all over the world except for in the DRC. Before I was just a member, and in the end I was working for them in London. I thought I could go back but when I spoke to my friend – he said ‘don’t come. They will kill you.’


I used to draw before I was in detention. I don’t know if the pictures have changed now but I draw many things about me. Drawings about returning home and what will happen if I go back and how I am afraid.

Now I’m feeling very bad. I don’t know what I’m doing here. In 2014 and 2015 I was in here. I was reporting when they took me, they didn’t just say I was going to the IRC [immigration removal centre/detention centre], they said they were deporting me. I refused to go to Heathrow. One officer said when they come back to me again, if I’m still strong, they will restrain me and tell everyone I’m crazy. I’m not crazy.

That made me feel very bad, very bad. And every time for 2 weeks I was watching on computer how they beat people. Sometimes they can inject you, to make your body feel lazy and tired.


‘One day god will judge this country of Home Office.’

Anyway, they already kill my mind before my country kill my body back home. When they will send me at home to be kill and my story will finish in this world.

I was a detainee when I was 19 in 2014.

My name is Jay.