Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Save the Nottingham One from Deportation

As someone said, when you are known by a number and the name of a place then you are in deep shit. Let me introduce you to Hicham Yezza. He was the "administrative officer" arrested at Nottingham University last week over the downloading of a freely available document.

As this Hicham Yezza campaign site puts it
Hicham has lived in Nottingham for 13 years while he studied for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and worked at the university, where he has built up a large network of close friends. The huge campaign to prevent his deportation is a testament to this. He served as a member of the University Senate for two terms (2004-5) and on the Student’s Union Executive Committee, was President of the Arabic Society, was the editor of the influential Voice magazine for international students, and is the long-time editor of Ceasefire magazine, a political journal. He was a prominent member of the artistic group ‘Al-Zaytouna’, and weeks before his arrest performed the leading role in a feature play at Nottingham Arts Theatre. Numerous references have been collected from reputable professors and prominent members of the local and national community that testify to his integrity and strong roots in the city. He lives and works in Nottingham and has shown every intention of fighting his case, as he thinks he has excellent grounds to remain in the U.K.

Let's not forget that no-one is illegal. The UK immigration service is a racist organisation that deliberately seeks out to deport people who's only crime is to overstay a visa. Often these are solid members of communities doing all the things that governments admire: relocating for education and employment; becoming active citizens.

Deportation on the grounds of involvement in a download of "legitimate research material" is just morally wrong, irrespective of Hicham Yezza's "status".

Hicham Yezza must stay and the Immigration Service needs a solid reform if not total abolition.

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