Anti-racists are demanding an immediate stop to the mass eviction threat facing up to 300 asylum seekers in Glasgow.
Outsourcer Serco, which runs asylum seeker housing for the Home Office, made an Iranian and an Iraqi man homeless last week. They were forced to seek help from the Scottish Refugee Council after the locks on the doors were changed.
Serco has sent letters to other asylum seekers informing them that it would change their locks.
The move is designed to allow housing bosses throw out up to 300 people without a court order, a requirement for evictions under Scottish law.
Ahmed, a Syrian refugee who came to Britain in a lorry in 2011, is one of the asylum seekers who’ve received the letters. He said, “If I go back home now and the locks are changed, what can I do?
“There are so many other people suffering like this too.”
Other people who’ve been threatened with a lock change include a 72 year old Syrian man who has lived in Glasgow for the last years.
Graham O’Neill, policy officer at the Scottish Refugee Council, called for an immediate end to the policy.
“We urge Serco to stop making people homeless and stop spreading fear and anxiety among people seeking protection in Scotland,” he said.
“The men and women living in Serco accommodation are here because their lives are at risk in their home countries.
“People who have been refused refugee protection by the British government are not allowed to work or apply for benefits and have no means to support themselves.
“Making people in this situation street homeless is absolutely unacceptable.” The Sheriff’s courts have granted at least 40 people a reprieve since Serco announced the lock-change policy last June.
But it is determined to push through the evictions before new subcontractor Mears takes over the housing in September.
Mears has said it wants to take over empty properties.
The lock changes show that it will take more than legal action to stop Serco throwing people onto the street.
A solidarity protest by the Glasgow No Evictions Campaign and Living Rent Glasgow tenants’ union stopped an eviction in June. They held a solidarity protest outside the house of a woman who had bene told to leave.
More action like this is needed if Serco tries to throw any more people out.
And there needs to be a fight against the British state’s racist immigration rules, which try to make life as hard as possible for migrants.
All asylum seekers should be granted indefinite leave to remain.