Two arrested after Home Office protest over asylum seeker evictions

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Two men have been charged with public disorder offences after a protest outside the Home Office against plans to evict more than 300 asylum seekers.

Police were called to the building on Brand Street in Glasgow at around 12pm on Friday.

Two men, aged 45 and 58, were arrested in connection with the incident, Police Scotland said.

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

Mohammad Asif, from the Scottish Afghan Society, claimed 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, stage a hunger strike outside the building.

Mr Asif said the two men have had nothing to eat or drink since Wednesday. They were spoken to by paramedics who were called to the scene on Brand Street during the protest.

The two men are among at least 300 asylum seekers facing eviction by contractor Serco after being refused refugee status.

The public services group, employed by the Home Office, revealed plans last weekend to begin changing the locks on accommodation.

The group said it has provided accommodation 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.

The leader of Glasgow City Council said these costs should be borne by the Home Office, and she repeated calls to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to step in and stop the evictions.

Susan Aitken also said the council’s lawyers are looking at ways to “supersede” UK law to those facing eviction.

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 need to look at it very carefully and 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.

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