11 Days Remaining

Tuesday 22nd
posted by Joana Ramiro in Britain

Friends speak up for student leader under threat

FRIENDS of student refugees spokesman Elias “Lord” Apetsi headed to the Home Office in London yesterday to protest against his sudden detention and imminent deportation. 

Mr Apetsi had just been elected NUS Scotland officer for asylum-seekers and refugees when he was reported missing. 

Fellow students at Strathclyde University eventually found that he had been detained by the UK Border Agency and they travelled to London yesterday to stage a protest.

Mr Apetsi’s deportation was scheduled for today, but lawyers were being contacted to lodge an emergency appeal. Close friend of Mr Apetsi and Strathclyde University students union president Gary Paterson said it was “horrifying that any of our students could be pulled from their classrooms, taken away when their kids are right there in front of them.

“[Lord] has rights under the Human Rights Act that this government is just completely ignoring. 

“He has a three-year-old child that is a British citizen. He’s the single parent, the sole guardian of that child. 

“We’re extremely concerned.”

Mr Paterson said that he had recently spoken to Mr Apetsi by phone and that the Ghanaian postgrad student “couldn’t believe” the wide national support he had received.

Mr Apetsi’s case echoes that of fellow Scottish student Majid Ali, who was deported to Pakistan in June last year.

Supporters of Mr Ali, whose closest family members had been killed due to political persecution, remain concerned for his life. 

Outside Home Secretary Theresa May’s offices, SNP Glasgow South West MP Christ Stephens slammed new Tory migration laws. He said: “I think the Home Office policies, in terms of dealing with immigration, in terms of dealing with asylum-seekers, are sheer bloody barbarism.”

With him were SNP MP Patrick Grady, NUS vice-president Shelly Asquith and NUS international students officer Mostafa Rajaai. The London rally was followed by a protest at Edinburgh’s Scotland Office, where hundreds called for the immediate release of Mr Apetsi.

Scottish Green Party international affairs spokesman Ross Greer said: “Lord Apetsi’s situation shows just how cold-hearted and cruel the UK immigration system is.

“The Home Office may see migrants as just numbers on a spreadsheet but this isn’t about figures or statistics, it’s about our families, our communities and our society.”