Renewed call for independent, public inquiry into treatment of Glasgow asylum seekers

28 June 2021

Add your name in support of a public inquiry

Positive Action in Housing is renewing its call for a public inquiry into the treatment of Glasgow asylum seekers housed by Mears Group.

3,340 organisations and private citizens, including Scottish MPs and the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, have now backed our demand.

The proposed Home Office evaluation has been dead in the water since August 21. 2020, when 7 Scottish MPs cited “no confidence” in the “evaluation” into the impact of Covid-19 on asylum-seekers, with the group walking out of a meeting with government officials, and supporting calls for a full independent inquiry .

We have a choice. Speak out on the deadly humanitarian crisis in Glasgow or say nothing and normalise the suffering we are bearing witness to for the remaining 8 years of the Mears Contract.

Here is a timeline of events that set out the reasons for calling the public inquiry, and the questions we want it to address.

And if the U.K. Government won’t give us it, then we call on the Scottish Government to instigate a Citizens Inquiry to find out the truth about decades of asylum contracts abusing basic human rights in this country. Enough is enough.

Robina Qureshi

Positive Action in Housing and our co-signatories are seeking an investigation into:

a) the circumstances whereby c. 350 refugees and asylum seekers were uprooted at very short notice from settled homes (without signing accommodation waivers) and forcibly transported during Lockdown into emptied hotels without money or access to basic life essentials, left extremely vulnerable by the asylum system, and then moved back into residential homes, many of which were dirty and uninhabitable with little or no resources to sustain such a move. As part of the investigation, the public have a right to know how much money was saved when the Home Office and Mears Group shifted hundreds of Glasgow asylum seekers into hotels emptied because of the Lockdown.

b) the circumstances surrounding the death of Syrian refugee, Adnan Walid Elbi, (who died aged 30 in the Mclays Guest House on May 5 2020 after clear evidence known to the Home Office that he was suicidal).

c) the circumstances that led to the Park Inn Hotel tragedy on Friday 26 June 2020 whereby one person was shot dead by police and six were injured.

d) the circumstances surrounding the death of a Ugandan asylum seeker refugee, Mercy Baguma, who was found dead aged 34 in the hallway of her flat in Govan, on August 22nd, while her baby son was left malnourished as a result of having not eaten for several days. Specifically, we want Mears to confirm that they were scheduled to move Mercy and Adriel on August 19. We want to know why they did not make further checks or alert next of kin when Mercy did not answer the door. We want to know why they did not state the extent of their involvement with Mercy to the press. We also want to know why they failed to give Mercy her new address before her move as this could have saved days of trauma to Adriel and possibly saved Mercy’s life.

We are calling for testimony to be taken from individuals prepared to speak out, and from organisations working on the ground into:

a) inhumane and degrading living conditions at the Tartan Lodge Hotel

b) the “pressure cooker” environment whereby so many people including survivors of torture and those with mental health problems were accommodated together with no ability to socially distance or find a place of peace;

c) alleged threats, both veiled and explicit, made by Mears Group staff that asylum seekers could be deported if they complained about food or living conditions or their cases could be adversely affected if they communicated with “outside organisations” or the press (Park Inn, Hallmark, Mclays Guest House), people appear to be too frightened to speak out or complain under the misapprehension that this could affect their asylum case.

d) the systematic isolation of highly vulnerable human beings when they are moved to new accommodation with little or no resources, knowledge, money, food, mobile phone or language communications, travel or support networks, leaving them vulnerable to further mental health problems, exploitation and often too traumatised or confused or simply unable to complain.

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