Hundreds of people are expected to join a Scottish protest against controversial plans to evict asylum seekers by changing the locks on their accommodation.
Campaigners have pledged to burn eviction notices at the Home Office in Glasgow today in protest at a decision by private firm Serco to start removing the first of around 300 refugees from their homes.
Yesterday a man was arrested after attempting to chain himself to railings at the Home Office, while one of two Afghan men taking part in a hunger strike was taken to hospital for treatment.
Serco has come under pressure to back down on its decision to begin evicting the failed asylum seekers, who have been told they do not have leave to remain in the UK.
The charity Positive Action in Housing, which has helped organise today’s demonstration, said it expected around 600 people for the protest at the Home Office building on Brand Street, Ibrox.
Yesterday members of the Scottish Afghan Society held a protest in support of asylum seekers Mirwais Ahmadzai and Rahman Shah, who have now called an end to their hunger strike.
The two men had spent two days camped outside the Home Office complex, refusing food and water in protest at their “inhumane treatment”.
Both are understood to be under threat of eviction from their temporary accommodation in Glasgow by Serco. Yesterday Mr Shah was taken to hospital for treatment. The trouble flared as the leader of Glasgow City Council said the local authority’s lawyers were looking at ways to “supersede” UK law to help the failed asylum seekers.
Council leader Susan Aitken told BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland the council was prohibited from providing accommodation for people who have exhausted the asylum process, but used its general power of welfare to help particularly vulnerable groups such as families.
She said she had instructed council lawyers to examine whether this could be extended to cover those who face having their locks changed by Serco, many of whom are young, single men.
Ms Aitken said: “We need to look at it very carefully and we are looking at it very carefully if we can use our general power of wellbeing to supersede UK law and support a wider range of people who find themselves essentially being made destitute as a consequence of UK Government policy.” She said the council could face legal challenges from the Home Office over its actions.
Ms Aitken added: “Glasgow City Council will step up and we will support vulnerable people where we possibly can, but what we really need is not for us to step in and pick up the mess left behind by UK Government policy. We need a change in UK Government policy.”
Serco revealed plans at the weekend to begin changing the locks on accommodation for asylum seekers refused refugee status.
The company said it had provided accommodation for months in some cases for those without the right to remain in the UK, without recompense from the Home Office.
Last night Police Scotland said two men, aged 45 and 58, had been arrested and charged with minor public order offences following yesterday’s protest.