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Two arrested after Home Office protest over asylum seeker evictions

The men have been charged with minor public disorder offences, police said.

Servo has said it will change the locks on accommodation for about 300 asylum seekers in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Servo has said it will change the locks on accommodation for about 300 asylum seekers in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Two men have been charged after a protest outside a Home Office building against plans to evict more than 300 asylum seekers.

Police were called to the premises on Brand Street in Glasgow at around 12pm on Friday and two men aged 45 and 58 were arrested.

They were later charged with minor public disorder offences and released by officers.

It follows an outcry over plans by Home Office contractors Serco to evict hundreds of people who have been refused refugee status.

Mohammad Asif from the Scottish Afghan Society said around 40 people took part in a “peaceful protest” during which the gates of the Government offices were chained.

“We chained the gate as a symbolic gesture – if I lock you for one day, how do you feel for one hour? And then you are destroying their lives forever,” he said.

It came as two Afghan nationals Rahman Shah, 32, and Mirwais Ahmadzai, 27, staged a hunger strike outside the building.

That action, which began on Wednesday, ended later on Friday, said Mr Asif, who called on supporters to attend a further protest at Brand Street planned for 11am on Saturday.

It follows a demonstration in the centre of Glasgow on Tuesday which attracted hundreds of people and speakers including SNP and Labour MPs.

Serco revealed plans last weekend to begin changing the locks on accommodation.

The public services group said it had provided housing for months in some cases for those without the right to remain in the UK, without recompense from the Home Office and at a cost of more than £1 million a year, which it claimed should be borne by the local authority.

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said these costs should be borne by the Home Office, and has made repeated calls to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to step in and halt the evictions.

She told BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme the council is prohibited from providing accommodation for people who have exhausted the asylum process, but uses its general power of welfare to help particularly vulnerable groups such as families and those with HIV.

She said she has instructed council lawyers to examine whether this can be extended to cover those who face having their locks changed by Serco, many of whom are young, single men.

Ms Aitken said: “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.”

Serco chief executive Rupert Soames has said lock-change notices would be given to no more than 10 people a week for the next four weeks.

He said none of these would be families with children and all will be people who the Home Office considers to have exhausted their appeal process and no longer have the right to remain.

Press Association

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