Campaign launched over arrests of Pakistani students

Source: Press Release from the 'Justice for the North West 10' Campaign

On Saturday 9th May, people from across the UK met in Longsight, Manchester and formed a national campaign called 'Justice for the North West 10'.

The meeting was addressed on mobile phone by three families of the students from disparate areas of Pakistan. They expressed support for the campaign and have been mobilizing their own campaign in Pakistan. The meeting was also addressed by legal representatives of the students and other innocent victims of the Terrorism Act.

Tahir Rahman, brother of Tariq Rahman, speaking over the from Peshawar, Pakistan said,

'Tariq ur Rahman was sent to the UK to study to make a better life for his family and himself. His young wife died during the birth of their first child. His father is dead. His paralysed mother cannot come to terms with her son’s imprisonment. She has not spoken to her son since his arrest.'

Raza Ullah Khan, brother of Mohammad Ramzan, speaking from Abbotabad, Pakistan said,

'His (Mohammad Ramzan) mother dreamt we would come back educated from the UK. She is ill now, waiting for him. He should be released now so that he can come back to Pakistan to see his mother. She asks, "When will he phone?" I want to appeal to the British Government - you know he has not done anything so release my brother. And to the Pakistani government - for God’s sake, don't lie. You are doing nothing to help us.'

Nasrullah Jaan Khattak, father of Abid Nasir spoke from Peshawar, Pakistan. He said,

"I fear for my son. I appeal to the government to give him the chance to finish his education.I have not been able to speak to my son since the arrest and we are very worried about him and his health.. We sent our son to study not to be oppressed."

Manchester-based writer, Tariq Mehmood, an organisers of the meeting, said,

'What sort of a society locks people up without charge, without evidence, threatens to throw them out of the country on the whims of politicians and sexed up intelligence reports. What has happened to this country where the police are threatening more such raids? We are all but in a police state. The gloves are nearly off and it won't simply be Muslims who will feel the heat.'

'These students should be allowed to telephone their relatives in Pakistan. These students should be freed immediately, their visas must be reinstated and they must be compensated for their financial loss and for the mental and physical suffering. Some missed their exams; special arrangements should be made so they can sit them in prison, if they should wish.'

The campaign is launching a series of public meetings, a website and protests and activities to draw public attention to the scandal of innocent men being kept in prison and deported. It is also gathering the support of organizations and individuals.

On 12th May, 10 of the detainees appealed at the Royal Court of Appeal, London. They were denied bail until proceedings in July and are being held as Category A prisoners. No evidence has been presented against them. The campaign demands that they are allowed to receive visits and telephone calls from their families and that they are allowed to continue their education in prison. We believe they should be released as innocent men immediately.

The first protest vigil took place on Saturday, 9th May at the entrance to Strangeways Prison in Manchester where some of the students are being held. 45 people protested. A further public meeting took place at the Saffron Restaurant, Cheetham Hill Road, on 12 May at 7.30pm with 40 people attending.

A further protest is planned for Sunday, 17th May at 1pm at Strangeways Prison in Manchester.

NOTES

  1. On April 8th 2009 armed police swooped on Pakistani students in the North West. Three were released, though items and equipment remain confiscated. The remaining 12 are still in detention without charge. They are awaiting deportation, under the pretext that they pose a 'threat to national security'. No evidence has been provided.
  2. Ten of the students have appealed against the deportation order.
  3. The campaign is called ‘Justice for the North West 10’.
  4. RESOLUTION OF MEETINGFollowing the arrest of Pakistani students in the North of England last month under the anti terrorism laws and their subsequent release and re-arrest by the Immigration authorities for deportation on the grounds that they pose a threat to the National Security. This meeting of concerned citizens of UK notes:
    1. Various UK Ministers, including Gordon Brown, made statements implicating the students in a major terrorist plot and that their ‘timely’ arrest prevented an imminent terror outrage.
    2. All the students arrested were later released as no evidence was found of a terrorist plot.
    3. Despite their being no evidence students are still held in UK prisons and face deportation.
    The meeting demands:
    1. They be immediately released and allowed to complete their education before their return to Pakistan.
    2. Where students have suffered, they should be compensated financially and assisted to complete their education.
    3. The Ministers who made statements about the arrests implicating these students should publicly apologise.
    The meeting resolves:
    1. To support the students in their fight against unjust deportation.
    2. To hold similar meetings and establish local campaigns across the country, particularly in Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham and London.
    3. To mount a vigil outside the Strange ways prison for 6.00pm on the 9th May 2009 following the meeting where some of the students are held awaiting deportation.
  5. Photos of protest