Blind black student dragged out of Oxford University debating chamber ‘by the ankles’

Hundreds sign petition calling for union president to resign

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Monday 18 November 2019 18:53 GMT
Blind black student 'dragged out' from Oxford debating society

One of the most prestigious debating societies in the UK has come under fire after a blind black student was reportedly “dragged by his ankles” out of an event in Oxford.

The incident, which was caught on video, is said to have left Ebenezer Azamati, a PhD student from Ghana, feeling “unwelcome” in Britain.

The 25-year-old, who is studying international relations, arrived early to attend a debate to reserve a seat as he was worried there would be no special provisions for disabled students.

When he returned for the debate after dinner, Mr Azamati was denied entry but he attempted to sit down on his reserved seat. Security officials then entered and manhandled him out of the building.

The Sunday Times reported that Brendan McGrath, president of the Oxford Union, subsequently called a disciplinary committee meeting, alleging that Mr Azamati had behaved violently during the incident.

“I felt that I was treated as not being human enough to deserve justice and fair treatment,” Mr Azamati told the newspaper.

The Oxford University Africa Society (OUAS) has described the incident as “violent, unjust, inhumane and shameful” – and have launched a petition, signed by hundreds, calling for Mr MrGrath to resign.

An appeal hearing on Saturday heard evidence from student Henry Hatwell who said: “Thirty seconds after he [Azamati] sat down, the security guard came in. Five seconds afterwards, he started touching Azamati, who was holding on to the bench.

“Thirty seconds later, they were dragging him by his ankles.”

It is understood that on Saturday the Oxford Union and Mr McGrath formally withdrew the charge of violent misconduct against Mr Azamati and apologised “unreservedly” for the distress caused.

The Oxford Union said in a statement: “We apologised unreservedly to Mr Azamati for the distress and any reputational damage which the publication of the incident may have caused.

“We are in ongoing discussions with Mr Azamati in order to pursue a solution agreeable to all parties, which addresses the structural issues raised. We do not wish to prejudice those discussions with further comment at this time.”

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