LONDON UK. A Christian asylum seeker who fled the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to escape its brutal regime faces being deported from the UK on Christmas Day.
Friends and colleagues have criticised the decision and its timing, and have urged the Government to show compassion and allow Mr Bolamu, who is a Christian, to remain in the UK to celebrate the religious festival.
Otis Bolamu, 38, who had been volunteering at an Oxfam shop in Swansea, South Wales, was taken from his bed very early on Thursday morning. The Congolese national is currently being detained at the Brook House (IMRC), Immigration Removal Centre at Gatwick and is to be deported on Christmas Day.
Phil Broadhurst, the manager of the Oxfam shop in Swansea’s Castle Street, said: “Our MP, Carolyn Harris, has been very supportive and has been trying to get in touch with the Home Office for two days now but hasn’t been able to get any response from them.
“I think there’s certainly a case for saying a principled government would have an amnesty over the Christmas period and not be trying to deport people when they haven’t go any access to the justice system.
“His solicitor is on holiday and we’re trying to get somebody else to help out in the detention centre. But only his current solicitor has all the facts of the full case so its difficult for anyone else. On that basis alone we’d hope there would at least be a delay so everyone’s office is open again, including the Home Secretary’s.”
Mr Bolamu told friends he used to work for the DRC government and fled to the UK in October last year after campaigning for democracy and being warned that he was suspected of spying for the government opposition.
After arriving in Swansea, he volunteered at this year’s Hay Festival and 3 to 4 times a week at the Oxfam shop in Castle Street, but was refused leave to remain in August following an appeal.
After his detention, friends and colleagues held a protest in Castle Square, Swansea, on Friday, and a petition set up by Hay, Brecon & Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees on Saturday had received almost 6,000 signatures by Monday afternoon.
A message on the petition page says: “All he wants is to be able to worship at his church on Christmas Day. Instead, he is being sent into harm’s way, with unseemly haste, on the most sacred of all days for Christians, whilst the rest of us will be celebrating.
“This is a cruel example of the hostile environment at work. Such an action is not at all compatible with the Christmas message of love and compassion.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection.
“All asylum claims lodged in the UK are carefully considered on their individual merits against a background of relevant case law and up-to-date country information.”
more details soon….