IN THE midst of all the debate on intervention over the appalling events in Syria, there are human rights issues here in Scotland that should not be lost.
Some weeks ago there was much publicity about the poster campaign in London pressuring asylum seekers to accept a free passage home.
I recently learned from an asylum seeker in Glasgow that these same posters are now flooding the waiting-room where this person and others “sign on” in the UK Border Agency’s office at the Brand Street Centre in Glasgow’s Govan.
The messages are attached to every chair in the room and on the floor. In the area where asylum seekers are interviewed there is apparently a huge image of an aircraft accompanied by questions about whether they would not be happier to go home than to endure the life of an asylum seeker here.
I have been involved in many human rights campaigns relating to refugees and have been active in resettlement of those from Chile, Vietnam, and elsewhere in the past. More recently we have had homeless asylum seekers staying with us. I am, therefore, quite aware of the background of torture, violence and life threatening persecution they have suffered before coming here.
To bully vulnerable people by this poster campaign is an appalling violation of human rights. To do so in an area which is closed to the public is an insidious covert act in order that those of us who are concerned should be kept in the dark.
I hope the Scottish Government will make strong representations on this matter although it is, of course, a “reserved” one at present. We should not forget that the persecution by the Nazi regime in Europe three-quarters of a century ago started with the encouragement of certain groups to remove themselves to another country.
(Rev Dr) Iain Whyte