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Dawn raid on Glasgow home

Source: The Unity Center

A South African woman and her six year old son were detained in their home yesterday morning in Linkwood Avenue in Drumchapel.

Eight Immigration officers, three men and five women broke into her flat as Zodwa Ethel Mbali and her son Ameldo were still in bed at 7am in the morning. They tried to trick Zelda into opening the door but she refused, not knowing who they were so they broke the door open. Wearing only a t-shirt, she was given 15 minutes to pack some things together and then she was taken to Brand Street. Zodwa had thought she was going to be detained last week when going to report and already had her bags ready. Because she agreed to be 'good' the escort did not put her in hand-cuffs.

This is the first 'early morning' / 'dawn raid' on an asylum seeker's home that we have heard about for about one year. In that time the Home Office Immigration Enforcement Team seem to have been concentrating on catching people working without the correct documents or looking for people over-staying their visas. Largescale ciommunity protests, direct action and political opposition to dawn raids in Scotland made many of us think that the barbaric method of detaining families in their homes as they slept had finally ended in Glasgow.

In June 2007 the newly elected Scottish Nationalist Scottish Government condemned the Home Office's practice of dawn raids.A representative stated: "The Scottish Executive is opposed to the practice of dawn raids and believes that asylum seekers must be treated humanely, particularly when children are involved. Asylum seeker children have the same rights as other children."

Then on the 3rd August '07, a Scottish Government Cabinet Memo made clear Scottish opposition to dawn raids when it stated the the Scottish Government believed that:

  • Asylum seekers must be treated fairly and humanely, particularly when children are involved
  • The welfare and rights of all children in Scotland are paramount and must be treated as such. This is reflected in Scots law
  • The Scottish government is fundamentally opposed to dawn raids - to any kind of forcible removal of children - and to the detention of children at Dungavel

Clearly from their behaviour yesterday, the Home Office don't care what the Scottish Government think.

Some idiot might try to excuse yesterday morning's raid as not being a "dawn raid" because 7am on a May morning is not exactly dawn but this would be totally missing the point that waking and detaining mothers and children by breaking into their homes is a totally unecessary and heavy-handed tactic. One that is extremely traumatic for families, especially for young children, many of whom may already be suffereing post-traumatic stress as a result of their experiences in their countries of origin.

In this particular case there is no suggestion that Zodwa would fail to turn up at the Home Office her usual reporting time. She did not even know that her case had been finally refused because the Home Office did not give her the formal refusal letter until AFTER she had been detained. Zodwa was due to bring her son to the Home Office today (Thursday) at 4.30 anyway for her weekly reporting and does not have a record of failing to report. On top of that it is well documented that single mothers with young children are generally the least likely group to abscond. This case therefore totally contradicts the Home Office's claim that they only use dawn raids as a last resort after they have assesd that an asylum seeker is likely to fail to report or abscond.

There is no justification for treating Zodwa as if she was a dangerous criminal in this way.