Shame on the Oxford Union, We Demand Justice!
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From the Oxford University Africa Society:
Our attention has been drawn to an incident at the Oxford Union Society on the evening of 17th October 2019 involving Mr. Ebenezer Azamati, a visually impaired Ghanaian MPhil student in International Relations at St. John’s College and an active member of the Oxford University Africa Society (OUAS). Our attention was first drawn to this incident by an article in the Oxford Student, by Mr. Azamati himself, and by various pained accounts from witnesses.
First, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the violent, unjust, inhumane, and shameful treatment of Mr. Azamati at the Union Chambers by a Union staff. No Oxford student / Union Member deserves to be treated in that manner, not least a visually impaired one. Mr. Azamati is deserving of his place as much as anyone else enrolled here.
Our understanding is that Mr. Azamati, was forcibly and violently prevented from re-entering the Union Chambers, and subsequently, forced to leave the debate Chamber after simply exiting and re-entering when the program had not even begun. Even if he had re-entered when the debate had started, such poor treatment through violent means remains unjustifiable. Assuming that the rules for re-entry prevent anyone from stepping into the chamber at a stipulated time before sessions begin, it is only out of courtesy, out of consideration to a fellow Union member and beyond these, out of a needed awareness of the physical needs of Mr. Azamati, that he should have been treated far more courteously and with dignity. He should have actually been helped to resume his seat inside the Chamber. Should the debate have even begun already, the Union ought to have a well thought out procedure for a situation where a physically impaired individual may need to exit and resume their place within your chamber.
What is more disturbing is that, after the terrible treatment meted out to Mr. Azamati, Brendan, the President of the Union who was absent at the scene of the incident personally lodged a complaint against Mr. Azamati for violent behaviour. This is a shocking response given that he was not, in fact, the perpetrator of violence but rather a victim. Mr Azamati was not allowed to bring his witnesses to the unfair hearing that concluded with suspending Mr. Azamati’s Union membership till May 2020.
Our Demand are as follows:
- 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 Brendan McGrath as President of the Oxford Union.
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For more information, here are a few articles that provide some more context on the incident:
Oxford University Africa Society
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