SCORES of protesters formed a blockade outside the UK Border Agency’s main immigration offices in Glasgow to demonstrate against the latest wave of dawn raids in the city.
One activist scaled a metal tripod to block the vehicle entrance to the UKBA facility in the Ibrox area, while three other people chained their necks to gates using bicycle locks.
The protest, which began at around 5:30am yesterday, was designed to take a stand against “a return to the bad old days” of dawn raids. Three people were arrested.
The direct action was sparked by the forced deportation of several families in recent months. It was organised by The Unity Centre, a Glasgow-based solidarity centre for asylum seekers, along with the No Borders Network.
They were joined by smaller groups such as the Govan and Craigton Integration Network and members of the Occupy Glasgow movement. In all, around 60 people turned out to support yesterday’s action, bearing banners with slogans such as “End Dawn Raids”, “Stop the Snatch Squads” and “Nae Borders”. Strathclyde Police deployed around 25 officers.
Phil Jones, a spokesman for Unity, told The Scotsman that when the protesters arrived, there were several UKBA staff in and around the building, suggesting they may have helped prevent a planned dawn raid.
He said: “Dawn raids – the practice of visiting people’s homes in the early morning, hoping to use the element of surprise – are seen as a particularly barbaric and inhumane way of enforcing Home Office policy and have been the source of anger from communities in Glasgow in the past.
“I think the government feels they need to be macho and tough on this issue, but the idea of raiding people in the early hours of the morning is just wrong and inhumane.”
The protest follows a dawn raid on Funke Olubiyi, a Nigerian single mother, and her five-year-old son.
They were in their Govan home when, at around 7am on 10 November, UKBA officials handcuffed Ms Olubiyi and took her and her son into detention.
They were subsequently moved to the Cedars pre-departure accommodation near Gatwick Airport before being forcibly removed to Lagos in Nigeria.
Mr Jones said that Ms Olubiyi was naked at the time she was apprehended, as she was about to take a bath, while her son was wearing only his pyjamas.
A spokesman for the UKBA defended the process of the “enforced return” of families as a “last resort”.
He said: “We consider all cases thoroughly. When both we and the courts agree that families are not in need of our protection, they are given every chance to leave the UK voluntarily.
“Unfortunately, when they refuse to take up these opportunities, our last resort is an enforced return. This is overseen by the Family Returns Panel to ensure that the welfare of children is taken properly into account.”
A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said: “Three people have been arrested – two men aged 18 and 23, and a 32-year-old woman – after chaining themselves to a fence.”
A report will be sent to the procurator-fiscal.