Activists have applauded the victory of Glasgow solidarity and told the Home Office that it “got into the wrong city” when two men detained by the UK Immigration Service were returned to their community after a day of protest.
Scottish police intervened to free the men after a tense one-day standoff between immigration officials and hundreds of local residents, who surrounded their van on a residential street on Glasgow’s south side to stop the men from being detained. during Eid al-Fitr.
Immigration Control Service personnel are believed to have pounced on property in Pollokshields early Thursday morning and detained people.
At midmorning, a crowd of about 200 protesters surrounded the vehicle, preventing it from moving away, and shouting “these are our neighbors, let them go,” with one protester lying under the truck to prevent it from moving away.
“I am overwhelmed by Glasgow’s solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers,” said Roza Salih, shouting to be heard over the jubilant shouts of “refugees are welcome here.” She added: “This is a victory for the community.”
Salih, who had been at the protest since morning, is a Kurdish refugee and co-founded the Glasgow Girls campaign in 2005 with his fellow students to prevent the deportation of a friend from school and fight morning raids.
Previously, Salih questioned why the widely condemned practice of dawn raids seemed to be repeating itself 15 years later in Glasgow, Scotland’s only dispersal city for asylum seekers. He also highlighted the jarring impact of carrying out such action during Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, in one of the most multicultural areas of the city and within the constituency of Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
As cheering protesters escorted the men to the local mosque, Pinar Aksu of Maryhill Integration Network said: “They got into the wrong city.
“This is a revolution of people coming together in solidarity with those who have been alienated by others,” he said. Aksu described how hundreds more followers had arrived at the scene as the afternoon wore on. “This is just the beginning. When there is another raid at dawn in Glasgow, the same will happen. “
Aksu added: “For this to happen on Eid, which is meant to be a time of peaceful celebration, is horrible. It is not by chance that it is being carried out when a new immigration bill is being prepared.
“We also need responses from the Scottish Police on their involvement. We have already written to the Home Secretary asking him to urgently clarify whether the decisions to carry out immigration control raids, including the dawn raids, represent a change in UK government policy.
Shortly after 5 p.m., the Scottish Police issued an updated statement, saying that Superintendent Mark Sutherland had decided to release the detainees “to protect the safety, public health and well-being of those involved in the arrest and detention. later protest “. The force asked those at the scene to disperse from the area as soon as possible.
A spokesperson previously said: “The Scottish Police do not assist in expelling asylum seekers. Agents are on site to monitor the protest and ensure public safety. “
The second dawn raid on Glasgow within a month appears to show a further escalation of the UK’s hostile environmental policy. While the SNP government has strongly advocated for Scotland to have control over its own immigration policy, mostly due to the country’s unique depopulation pressures, it remains reserved for Westminster.
Sources told The Guardian that the immigration status of those detained was unclear.
The protests took place as the new MSPs took oaths in what has been described as Holyrood’s most diverse parliament, taking oaths in British, Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, Doric, Scottish, Gaelic, Welsh and Orcadian sign languages, and then of an election in which refugees had the right to vote for the first time in Scotland.
Politicians expressed their solidarity with residents on social media.
Following the men’s release, Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “I am proud to represent an electorate and lead a country that welcomes and shows support for asylum seekers and refugees.”
He added that the police had been “in an unfair position: they do not assist in expelling asylum seekers, but they have a duty to protect public safety. They act independently of the ministers, but I support this decision ”.
Condemning the Interior Ministry’s action, Sturgeon added: “Acting in this way, in the heart of a Muslim community while celebrating Eid, and in an area experiencing a Covid outbreak was a health and safety risk.
“As both MSP and FM, I will demand assurances from the UK government that they will never again create such a dangerous situation through their actions.”
Wafa Shaheen of the Scottish Refugee Council told The Guardian: “Forcing people to leave their homes on the first day of Eid, with neighbors and families trying to honor the religious celebration in peace, shows, at best, a serious lack of culture, sensitivity and awareness on the part of the Ministry of the Interior.
“Regardless of the immigration status of those attacked today, this heavy-handed approach by the Interior Ministry is unnecessary and avoidable. It’s scary, intimidating, and out of proportion. The hundreds of people on the streets this morning in solidarity with those affected show that people in Scotland are fed up with these raids and have had enough. “
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK government is tackling illegal immigration and the harm it causes, often to the most vulnerable people, by expelling those who have no right to be in the UK. The operation in Glasgow was carried out in connection with alleged immigration offenses and the two Indian nationals complied with the officers at all times ”.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism