Men detained by Immigration Enforcement released after Glasgow protests

13 May 2021, 17:21 | Updated: 13 May 2021, 21:25

Police in Glasgow have tried to disperse protesters

By Will Taylor

Authorities have released two Indian nationals detained by Immigration Enforcement officials after a large protests took place in Glasgow.

Police Scotland said the move was made to protect "the safety, public health and wellbeing of all people involved in the detention and subsequent protest" on Kenmure Street on Thursday.

The two men were seen thanking demonstrators who cheered as they waved to the crowd. They spent more than eight hours in an enforcement van.

Nicola Sturgeon said the Home Office needs to ask "itself hard questions" after the protests.

The First Minister tweeted: "The Home Office needs to ask itself hard questions after today.

"Doing this on Eid, in the heart of our Muslim community, and in the midst of a serious Covid outbreak was staggeringly irresponsible - but the even deeper problem is an appalling asylum & immigration policy."

It is understood neither of the men is Muslim.

Glasgow residents block Immigration Enforcement vans

Three people were arrested during the protests, two men aged 31 and 32 and a 23-year-old woman, police said.

Earlier on Thursday, a man placed himself under the Immigration Enforcement vehicle while protesters also sat on the road in front, and police officers could be seen surrounding it.

About 200 demonstrators were at the scene, chanting "Leave our neighbours, let them go" and "Cops go home".

Police Scotland said officers were called out by UK Immigration Enforcement at about 9.55am.

"Police Scotland does not assist in the removal of asylum seekers. Officers are at the scene to police the protest and to ensure public safety," a spokesperson said.

Queen's Speech: 'Immigration plans address public concern over illegitimate asylum seekers'

Police are seen around the immigration enforcement van
Police are seen around the immigration enforcement van. Picture: PA

Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland added: "Police Scotland has, following a suitable risk assessment, taken the operational decision to release the men detained by UK Immigration Enforcement back into their community meantime."

Aamer Anwar, the men's legal representative, said: "They're elated, they're astonished and they're deeply grateful to the people of Glasgow for having turned up today when they were dragged out of their beds this morning.

"They thought they were going to be taken to a detention centre, they dreaded the treatment they would receive and what would happen to them.

"At the end of the day, we're grateful to Police Scotland who saw sense in the fact that, for public safety, that these individuals should be released because the people of Glasgow said 'we're not moving, these are our neighbours - release them'.

"It sets a benchmark quite high for the rest of the country to follow and say that this is the way that we should treat people in society."

Glasgow MP: People are not going to let their neighbours be taken away

Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, said the demonstration was rallying against what he described as the "hostile environment created by the Tories and the British state".

"And it's on Eid you know... the guys are not even allowed to pray. How do you do that in a democratic society? It's a sad day."

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he was "disgusted by the Home Office raids".

He tweeted: "It is particularly unacceptable that this is happening during a pandemic, in an area that has a spike in cases and on the day of Eid."

The Home Office 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

"The UK Government continues to tackle illegal migration in all its forms and our New Plan for Immigration will speed up the removal of those who have entered the UK illegally."

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