Police have surrounded an immigration enforcement van in the southside of Glasgow as protestors block the vehicle from moving.
It is understood those gathered are trying to prevent UK Border Agency officers from removing people from a property in the Pollokshields area of the city.
Pictures on social media show the van parked on Kenmure Street, with people sitting on the road in front of it and a crowd round the vehicle.
Around 200 protesters are at the scene, with chants of “Leave our neighbours, let them go” and “Cops go home” being heard.
A line of police officers in face masks are in attendance.
A Police Scotland statement said: “Around 9.55 am this morning, Thursday, 13 May, 2021, police were called to an address in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, following a protest by a large group of people.
“The call was made by Immigration Enforcement after a group of protesters gathered at the address where UK Border Agency staff were in attendance. Police Scotland does not assist in the removal of asylum seekers. Officers are at the scene to police the protest and to ensure public safety.”
First minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is the area’s MSP, said she was “deeply concerned” and that her office was making “urgent enquiries” about the situation.
She tweeted: “As constituency MSP, I am deeply concerned by this action by the Home Office, especially today in the heart of a community celebrating Eid.
“My office is making urgent enquiries and stands ready to offer any necessary assistance to those detained.”
As constituency MSP, I am deeply concerned by this action by the Home Office, especially today in the heart of a community celebrating Eid. My office is making urgent enquiries and stands ready to offer any necessary assistance to those detained https://t.co/jkdhDBvX31
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 13, 2021
Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “This UK Border Force Operation, in Pollokshields, the heart of the Muslim community, on Eid is a demonstration of the UK Govt’s hostile environment. I have asked to speak to the Home Secretary to gain further details & make clear just how unacceptable this situation is.”
I am disappointed that out of 8 Home Office Ministers none of them could make themselves available to speak to me.
Having spoken to the DG for Home Office in Scotland I have urged him to abandon the forced removal.
He will consider next steps & I have requested an update.
— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) May 13, 2021
Earlier, Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss said she was contacting the Home Office about the matter.
She tweeted: “This is absolutely awful, but heartened to see local residents in Pollokshields standing up for their neighbours and refusing to accept the brutality of the @ukhomeoffice.
“I am taking this matter up with Ministers. Not in our name.”
Community response in the southside of Glasgow stopping a Home Office dawn raid right now. A family inside the van. An activist is under the van to stop them moving pic.twitter.com/I65lmz1o2A
— Stand Up To Racism (@AntiRacismDay) May 13, 2021
Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, was one of what he said were hundreds of neighbours protesting against the action.
The 54-year-old told the PA news agency: “We’re here against the hostile environment created by the Tories and the British state.
“The same people who run from the British and American bombs put at the back of the van right now. And they are about to be deported.
“And it’s on Eid you know… the guys are not even allowed to pray. How do you do that in a democratic society? It’s a sad day.”
I am disgusted by the Home Office raids in Pollokshields.
It is particularly unacceptable that this is happening during a pandemic, in an area that has a spike in cases and on the day of Eid.
We need an immigration policy that is based on human dignity & human rights.
— Anas Sarwar (@AnasSarwar) May 13, 2021
Mr Asif, who left Afghanistan as a refugee himself in 2000, said the atmosphere amongst the protesters is peaceful.
Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, wrote on Twitter: “Not close to the details on this but this is shocking, disgraceful and racist if people are raided by enforcement officers amidst the pandemic on the day of #Eid.”
Standoff going on in Kenmure St – protestors refusing to let Home Office van leave. pic.twitter.com/mS32fHyXr2
— Gavin Sellar (@GavinSellar) May 13, 2021
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, who is a list MSP for Glasgow, tweeted: “It’s horrific that people are forced to take such action to defend their most vulnerable neighbours from the brutality of the UK Home Office.
“We need an asylum system worthy of the name, and asylum support provided to a standard our communities can be proud of.”
Police should withdraw. This is unsafe from a Covid point of view apart from anything else. https://t.co/plxZfebG2g
— Mhairi Hunter (@MhairiHunter) May 13, 2021
SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter tweeted: “I am at a Full Council but seeing horrendous scenes from Kenmure Street. These kinds of raids are completely unacceptable at any time but coming in to the heart of Pollokshields on Eid. How dare they! Adding insult to injury. Absolutely disgusting.”
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