Blind student dragged 'by his ankles' out of Oxford debating chamber after being refused entry

Jamie Johnson

A blind student was dragged “by his ankles” out of an Oxford debating chamber after being refused entry, leading to calls for the union president to resign.

Ebenezer Azamati says that he felt “unwelcome in the Union, Oxford and even the country,” after he was manhandled by security staff in a distressing incident caught on video.

The postgraduate International Relations student from St John’s College, arrived early at the hall to reserve a seat for the debate on the motion 'This House has no confidence in HM Government' and went to dinner.

When he returned, he was denied entry, but attempted to sit down in his reserved seat.

A hearing yesterday heard evidence from fellow 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 onto the bench. Thirty seconds later they were dragging him by his ankles.”

Azamati, who has a BA in Political Science from the University of Ghana and an MSc in International Politics from SOAS told the Sunday Times: “I felt that I was treated as not being human enough to deserve justice and fair treatment.”

Now, Union president Brendan McGrath is facing calls to resign.

The university’s AfriSoc said there were “sufficient grounds to demand for the resignation” of McGrath, after it emerged that he had called a disciplinary committee alleging that Azamati had behaved violently.

AfricSoc said in a statement: “Our understanding is that Mr Azamati, who is visually impaired, was forcibly and violently prevented from re-entering the Union to resume his seat, 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.”

The Oxford Union has issued a statement “apologising unreservedly for distress and reputational damage caused.”

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