Hundreds foil dawn raid in Glasgow by Border Agency officials
Campaigners across Glasgow are warning more action is likely after they forced immigration officials to call off the arrest of two asylum seekers.
Hundreds of protesters assembled in Pollokshields, swarming enforcers and chanting “let them go” after immigration officers swooped on a house where it is alleged two men had breached immigration laws.
Police Scotland intervened to free the men after a tense day-long standoff between the enforcers and hundreds of local residents, who surrounded their van in the southside street to stop the detention of the men during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.
Staff from Immigration Enforcement are believed to have swooped on a property in Pollokshields early on Thursday morning and detained the two men.
By mid-morning, a crowd of about 200 protesters surrounded the vehicle, preventing it from driving away, and chanting “these are our neighbours, let them go”, with one protester lying under the van to prevent it driving off.
Pinar Aksu, of Maryhill Integration Network said: “They messed with the wrong city.
“This is a revolution of people coming together in solidarity for those who others have turned away from,” she said.
“This is just the start. When there is another dawn raid in Glasgow, the same thing will happen.”
Aksu added: “For this to happen on Eid, which is meant to be a time of peaceful celebration, is horrifying. It is no coincidence that it is taking place when a new immigration bill is being prepared.
“We also need answers from Police Scotland about their involvement. We have already written to the home secretary asking urgently to clarify whether the decisions to carry out immigration enforcement raids, including dawn raids, represents a change in the policy by the UK government.”
The immigration status of the individuals detained is unclear.
Immigration is a devolved issue therefore all removals are instigated and handled by the Home Office.
Following the men’s release, Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “I am proud to represent a constituency and lead a country that welcomes and shows support to asylum seekers and refugees.”
Sturgeon added: “To act in this way, in the heart of a Muslim community as they celebrated Eid, and in an area experiencing a Covid outbreak was a health and safety risk.
“Both as MSP and as FM, I will be demanding assurances from the UK government that they will never again create, through their actions, such a dangerous situation.”
Wafa Shaheen, of the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “To force people from their homes on the first day of Eid, with neighbours and families trying to honour the religious celebration in peace, shows – at best – a serious lack of cultural sensitivity and awareness on the Home Office’s part.
“Regardless of the immigration status of those targeted today, this heavy-handed approach from the Home Office is unnecessary and avoidable.
“It is frightening, intimidating and disproportionate. The hundreds of people on the streets this morning in solidarity with those affected shows people in Scotland are sick of 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 removing those with no right to be in the UK.
“The operation in Glasgow was conducted in relation to suspected immigration offences and the two Indian nationals complied with officers at all times.”