Last-ditch plea for Bishopbriggs student facing deportation who is “in fear of his life”

Appeal: Ross Greer of the Scottish Green Party
Appeal: Ross Greer of the Scottish Green Party

A last-ditch appeal has been made to the Scottish Government to help prevent the deportation today of an award-winning student from Bishopbriggs.

Asylum seeker Lord Elias Mensah Apetsi, studying for a masters degree at Strathclyde University, says he is “in fear of his life”.

It is believed he has been told by home office officials he will be flown back to Ghana tonight (Tuesday, March 22), the country he fled 10 years ago.

Students and politicians, including East Dunbartonshire resident Ross Greer, who is the Scottish Green Party MSP candidate for West of Scotland and spokesperson on Europe and International Affairs, have been staging demonstrations outside the Scotland Office and Home Office.

Mr Greer is appealing to the Scottish Government to do “everything it can” to stop the student from being deported.

Lord, who has a three-year-old son, was detained on Friday March 11 after reporting to the Border and Immigration Agency in Brand Street, Glasgow.

He is required to do so every month as part of his asylum agreement.

But this time he was taken into custody after it emerged that a fresh application for Leave to Remain had not been submitted on time.

The National Union of Students (NUS) say this was “human error” for which Lord was not to blame.

Since being detained Lord has been transferred to Dungavel, to a centre in Lincolnshire then Oxford and at the weekend he was being moved to a unit in Gatwick.

His friends understand he will be forced onto a chartered plane at Stanstead Airport tonight and flown to Ghana.

Mr Greer said: “The Home Office’s move to detain Lord Apetsi is a stark reminder of the callous asylum system of the Westminster government, and we must come together to put a stop to his deportation. Lord is a prominent member of our community, and it is absolutely unjustifiable to take him away from his family and home here in Scotland.

“Lord Apetsi’s situation shows just how cold-hearted and cruel the UK immigration system is. It allows for one of us to be thrown out of the country in the blink of an eye because of a slight administrative delay.

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

“We cannot allow the Home Office to continue treating people in this way, and I urge Scotland’s communities and the Scottish Government to do absolutely everything they can to stop Lord Apetsi from being deported tomorrow.”

Raj Jeyaray, vice president of diversity at Strathclyde Student Association added: “Lord is in fear of his life.

“I know why he left Ghana but what happened to him is personal and I don’t have permission to share this story.

“But I do know he had to leave and is scared about what will happen to him if he returns.”

When he first arrived in the UK, Lord spent around two years in detention centres - from 2006 to 2008.

He was released and settled in England before moving to Glasgow in 2014.

Lord, understood to be in his late 40s, had been studying for a Master’s Degree in Counselling at the University of Strathclyde.

He was voted Student of the Year at the university for his work helping other students and at the weekend, while in detention, he was elected Asylum and Refugee Officer for NUS Scotland’s executive committee.

Glasgow SNP MP Alison Thewliss has backed he NUS campaign and has also stepped in to try to halt the deportation.

She said: “Strathclyde University welcomes students from all around the world; they are valued, they make a contribution.

“This UK government is completely out of line in attempting to remove Lord Apetsi, a student who has proven that he is part of our city through his involvement in the NUS.

“It is wrong that his life can be turned upside down, that he can be separated from his children, and taken for removal. I urge the Home Office to reverse their decision and return Lord immediately to his family and friends in Glasgow.”

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said they cannot comment on individual cases and added: “All asylum applications are carefully considered on their individual merits, in line with the UK immigration rules.”