UK petition launched to stop deportation of at-risk Congolese man
Otis Bolamu has previously been accused by the DRC government of spying for the opposition
Over 5,500 people have signed a petition to prevent the deportation of a Congolese man from the UK on Christmas day over fears for his safety.
Otis Bolamu, who was living in Swansea and described as a “much-loved member of his community,” previously worked for the Democratic Republic of Congo government but fled in spring of this year amid allegations he was spying for the opposition, the petition said. It was created by the Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees.
At 4am on December 19 he was taken from his Swansea bed to an immigration removal centre in Gatwick, site of the UK’s second largest airport. Two days later a protest that attracted "considerable support" was held against the decision in Swansea.
The petition, addressed to UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid, said Mr Bolamu was a regular volunteer with Oxfam and had been looking forward to worshipping at his Swansea 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,” the petition said.
“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,” it added.
The decision to deport Mr Bolamu comes at a particularly sensitive time in the DRC with elections expected to take place on December 30. Previous voting periods have often been marked by violence and unrest in the large and unstable central African country.
The UK’s foreign office warns against all or all but essential travel to different parts of the DRC.
Updated: December 24, 2018 05:12 PM