Last week, the UK’s minister on immigration Tony McNulty, in a high-handed intervention, forbade the assistant head of Immigration Services in Scotland from meeting a delegation of concerned Scottish church, charity and political representatives.
Rolf Toollen, the Scottish official, was all ready for the meeting. In fact, it was reported that he had cancelled a meeting with Dumfries and Galloway Police in order to meet the delegation – of MSPs, including Tommy Sheridan and Sandra White, a representative from the Church of Scotland and Robina Qureshi from the NGO Positive Action in Housing.
The meeting fixed for 7 November had been arranged following a protest imitation ‘dawn raid’ on Brand Street immigration offices (in Glasgow) on 2 November carried out by MSPs, Paddy Hill and others which led to the temporary shutdown of immigration services. The protest was organised against the humiliating weekly reporting system asylum seekers have to go through and dawn raids on the homes of those facing deportation.
It was the raid led by sixteen immigration officers at 6am on 13 September on the home of the Albanian Vucajs which reignited the smouldering discontent in Scotland against Westminster’s draconian rules. Vocal protesters even drew support then from the Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell. ‘From public bodies to children’s organisations to school friends, these is recognition that these scandalous immigration practices are causing trauma and distress … When Scottish society expresses such profound concern, it is right to expect the Scottish Parliament to do likewise’ he said. (see IRR News story: ‘Scandalous’ UK immigration practices claim another family)
Since then, and despite condemnation by the Scottish Parliament of such raids, the Kupeli family were removed in the same way on 14 October. The raids were defended by Tony McNulty who denied they were inhumane. But what he had miscalculated, said Robina Qureshi, was the long tradition in Scotland of welcoming strangers. ‘The campaign remains committed to the ending of dawn raids and a more humane treatment of those seeking asylum in our country.’ She added, ‘if Tony McNulty thinks he is going to get away enforcing the inhumanities emanating from Westminster onto Scottish soil without a fight, then he has another think coming.’