This is the joint statement on the deportation of Majid Ali, by Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students’ Officer, and Shreya Paudel, NUS International Students’ Officer, published on NUS Connect on Friday 12 June.
This Tuesday (9 June), Majid Ali (a student at City of Glasgow College) was deported to Pakistan. The deportation came in spite of a campaign demanding his right to remain in the UK as an asylum seeker, which had been growing in momentum.
As an activist for Balochi independence, Majid is a political target for the Pakistani government. With members of his family being murdered by the Pakistani state, he faces high risk by returning home.
Upon learning of the news of Majid’s detention at Dungavel last Friday, activists responded by organising simultaneous demonstrations in Edinburgh and London, mass lobbying MPs, an Early Day Motion in Parliament, a Twitter campaign and a last-minute protest at Heathrow airport (where Majid is believed to have been deported by chartered flight on Tuesday night).
Despite all the efforts made, the Home Office have sent Majid back to Pakistan and to whatever fate awaits him. At this time our thoughts and prayers are with Majid, his friends and his family.
The abruptness and callousness of the government’s actions have shocked and upset many. For some it may have served as a wake-up call to the ruthlessness of the British immigration system. For migrants and Black people, it has served as yet another reminder of the struggles we live to combat each and every day, against the calculated attacks taken by the government against our people.
It is a reminder of deportee Jimmy Mubenga, killed under restraint by G4S guards while pleading that he couldn’t breathe, and whose three killers walk free today. Of Isabella Acevedo, paid £22 a week for seven years working for ex-immigration minister Mark Harper, and deported minutes before her own daughter’s wedding. Of Yashika Bageerathi, sent back to Mauritius six weeks before her A Level exams, despite a petition of 183,751 calling for her to remain. Of the nine cleaners of SOAS, ambushed by forty immigration officers after organising for their rights at their workplace. And of the women of Yarl’s Wood detention centre, over three quarters of whom are survivors of sexual violence, facing daily humiliation and abuse at the hands of the same detention system which has caged 900 international students this past year.
It is a reminder of the many stories of migrants which go unheard and the many more which go unspoken – of the cruellest bureaucratic violence that reduces individuals and their lived experiences to a numbers game: quotas to be ‘readjusted’ and net migration targets to be maintained.
We – as migrants, as Black people, as the children of migrants – are sick of having to plead our basic humanity and being made to beg for our basic rights. We are fed up of empathy having to be ‘earned’ in the case of migrants, and that the worth of Black lives is conditional in the eyes of the British state.
As saddened as we are by the events of this Tuesday, we remain committed to the tasks ahead – locating Majid, ensuring his safety and appealing his case are an immediate priority.
Above all, this episode underlines both the racist brutality of the British immigration system, and the hypocrisy of a nation intoxicated by its colonial legacy yet unwilling to accept the consequences of that history – and for this reason, as ever, we will stay fighting for the right of all migrants to live in peace and dignity in the UK.
Shreya Paudel, NUS International Students’ Officer & Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students’ Officer
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