Written by: Frances Webber

The campaign for Justice for the North West Ten is gaining momentum across the country.

Is it a code? Is it a reference number? No, it’s the name of the campaign to free the ten Pakistani students who were among the twelve dramatically arrested as terrorists on 8 April. All were released without charge two weeks later after a thorough investigation found no criminal activity, but the ten remained in detention, in category A conditions, held by the UK Border Agency for deportation as a ‘threat to national security’. An urgent application to release the students on bail was heard on 12 May, but was refused pending a full bail hearing in July – too late for the students to sit their exams. Despite rulings from the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights denouncing detention on the basis of secret evidence, the men remain ignorant of the reasons for their detention and proposed deportation. One of the men, Tariq Ur Rehman, returned to Pakistan on 11 June, disillusioned and disheartened about the prospects of making a future in the UK. The British government agreed to withdraw the deportation decision against him but declined to intervene to seek assurances from the Pakistani government that he would not be ill-treated. Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, have a fearsome reputation for torturing suspected terrorists.

People from across the country who were angered by the treatment of the men met on 9 May in Manchester and set up the Justice for the North West Ten campaign, which held an immediate protest vigil outside Strangeways prison, and has since launched public meetings, letters, protests and activities in Islamabad, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and London to draw public attention to the scandalous treatment of the men. On 28 May, the University and College Union (UCU) Conference overwhelmingly resolved to support the campaign, and to demand the immediate release of the students, to allow them to continue their education without the threat of deportation. An Early Day Motion (EDM 1453) has been signed by twenty MPs, and a letter has been signed by over seventy academics calling on the vice-chancellors of two of the institutions attended by the students to work to ensure that they can receive course materials and take their exams in prison.

What you can do:

Related links

Justice for the North West 10 Campaign

To get involved in the Justice for the North West 10 Campaign email: tangojuice@googlemail.com or j4nw10@yahoo.com.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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