We, the Solidarity & Social Justice Committee of the Teaching Support Staff Union, stand in Solidarity with the Oxford University Africa Society in condemning the dehumanizing act metted to Mr. Ebenezer Azamati by the Oxford Union Society on October 17, 2019.
Our understanding is that the Oxford Union forcibly and violently removed Mr. Azamati, a Ghanaian blind student, from its chambers. The Union’s President, Brendan McGrath, who was absent at the scene later filed a complaint and falsely accused Mr. Azamati for violent behaviour. It is evident from the video that went viral that Mr. Azamati was helpless given his condition and did not behave violently as he is accused.
In the video we observe footage that is not different from any other racist police/security brutality against Black people in Western countries. We also know that McGrath later redrew the accusation leveled at Mr. Azamati after the video went viral. Our attention has also been drawn to the fact that Mr. Azamati was arranged before the disciplinary committee based on this false accusation, and was not allowed to bring his witnesses to the hearing which concluded with suspending Mr. Azamati’s Union membership till May 2020. This is not only an act of injustice but also racist and we unequivocally condemn it as a Committee.
We have read Oxford University’s statement indicating that the Union is an independent body and has nothing to do with the said action. While we acknowledge the independence of the Union, we also find this gesture by the University is irresponsible. It is the University’s duty to ensure its students’ rights are protected and that they are treated humanely, irrespective of their race, status, religion, or ability.
We therefore call on Oxford University to unreservedly apologize to Mr. Azamati, and institute measures to ensure that no such acts of racism and injustice is experienced by students anywhere on campus. Secondly, the officers who were at duty and acted on the orders of the Union should be penalized accordingly to serve as a deterrent to others. No human being deserves to be treated inhumanely.
Therefore, we reiterate the following demands by the Oxford University Africa Society that:
- An unreserved public apology to Mr. Azamati by the Oxford Union and the President, Brendan McGrath;
- The recantation of Mr. Azamati’s ban and a reinstatement of his Oxford Union membership;
- Adequate punishment of the security personnel who assaulted Mr. Azamati;
- Compensation agreed with Mr. Azamati; and
- The resignation of Bredan McGrath as the President of the Oxford Union.
Solidarity & Social Justice Committee
Teaching Support Staff Union