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Sheffield student could be sent “to his death” as he faces deportation to Iraq

Ahmed Sedeeq has been fighting deportation since December last year

A campaign spokesperson has said a University of Sheffield student faces being sent “to his death” if the Home Office rejects his asylum application.

As PhD student Ahmed Sedeeq prepares to appeal the Home Office’s decision to deny him asylum this week, a representative from the Let Ahmed Stay campaign has spoken out about the issues that he faces.

Sanaz Raji, a member of Unis Resist Border Controls, became involved with Ahmed’s case last year, when the Home Office detained him for 20 days after complications arose with his visa.

Ahmed was released from detention, but the Home Office rejected his asylum application and told him that his student visa was invalid.

Sanaz then went on to help found the Let Ahmed Stay campaign, which has been responsible for providing Ahmed with solidarity and support over the past 11 months.

She said: “In the year that I’ve got to know Ahmed, it’s just been horrendous – his mental and physical heath suffer because of the enormous uncertainty of his immigration case.

“That threat hangs over his head every day – at any moment he could be detained and deported back to Iraq.”

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According to Sanaz, an important detail to take away from Ahmed’s case is that universities across the country – including the University of Sheffield – must bear some of the responsibility for the troubles that he faces because of their compliance with the hostile environment policy.

She said universities must recognise their pastoral responsibilities to students and staff, particularly migrant students and staff facing immigration problems as a result of the hostile environment policy, rather than focusing on apparently superficial campaigns, such as the University of Sheffield’s #WeAreInternational hashtag.

She said: “They want to have their cake and eat it – on one hand, they want to say ‘we are international’, in order to attract international students and the money that they bring and yet they don’t want to make it look like they’re not complying with elements of the hostile environment policy in order to satisfy the Home Office.

“It’s not enough to have a hashtag campaign that says #WeAreInternational – it’s pointless, it’s meaningless and it’s shallow.

“We need universities to take a stand against the hostile environment policy and support migrant students like Ahmed. Safety is a right, not a privilege.”

A spokesperson from the University of Sheffield said they are aware of Ahmed’s case and have signposted him to sources of support available to him, which can be found online.

They said: “The University is committed to ensuring our community is open to scholars and students from across the world and we work hard to provide a helpful advice service to students, which includes helping them understand legal requirements in relation to UK student registration.”

Ahmed’s hometown of Mosul, Iraq was taken over by ISIS in 2014, an occupation that lasted for 3 and a half years.

Over this time, ISIS oversaw Mosul’s decimation and over 9,000 civilian deaths.

Sanaz said: “As an atheist, Ahmed would be going back to untold levels of precarity and violence – he’d be going to his death, essentially.”

Over 68,000 supporters have signed a petition demanding that the Home Office let Ahmed remain in the UK.

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Ahmed also has received support from the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Magid Magid, who attended a BBQ fundraiser party this past August in solidarity with the Let Ahmed Stay campaign.

Supporters are set to gather outside the tribunal hearing in Bradford this Tuesday to show solidarity with Ahmed.

Unis Resist Border Controls along with Sheffield UCU have organised a Sheffield coach so that supporters can attend the hearing.

There are still seats available on the coach that supporters can book here.

A solidarity action is taking place outside the Sheffield Students’ Union on Tuesday from 9am, more details can be found here.

The Let Ahmed Stay campaign urges people to follow all updates concerning Ahmed’s case using the hashtag, #LetAhmedStay.