A prestigious debating society has come under fire after a blind black student was ‘dragged’ out of an Oxford University debate ‘by his ankles’.
PhD student Ebenezer Azamati was forcibly removed from the Union debating chamber and thrown out the building, according to reports.
The 25-year-old, from Ghana, was said to have arrived early at the Oxford Union to save a seat because he was concerned there would be no special provisions for disabled students.
Azamati had placed a book on an accessible seat near to the entrance of the chamber to reserve it, before heading back out to his college for dinner. However, when he came back to the chamber, he was refused to entry, but attempted to sit down in the seat he had earlier reserved.
Horrifying footage has emerged showing the moment Azamati was forcible removed from his chair by two men, as he continued to become more and more distressed.
Union president Brendon McGrath called a disciplinary hearing following the incident, in which it was claimed Azamati ‘behaved violently’ by throwing an arm out and making aggressive hand gesture as he was removed from the building.
The committee decided to suspend Azamati from the union for two terms, which prompted protests from campaign groups, including the Oxford University Africa Society, The Sunday Times reports.
Now, people are calling on McGrath to resign over fears the incident will stop ethnic minorities and working class students from wanting to attend the elite institution.
Azamati has since said he doesn’t feel welcome in Britain following the incident.
I felt that I was treated not as a human enough to deserve justice and fair treatment.
An appeal hearing on Friday heard a witness describe the incident in which she claims security guards began touching Azamati before dragging him out by his ankles.
During the appeal, the PhD student was represented by senior Oxford staff member Helen Mountfield Principal of Mansfield College and QC barrister.
Documentation from the hearing said Azamati was ‘not violent, but acted in alarm as a blind man who had been assaulted and feared being pulled to the floor’.
It went on to say ‘a white blind man would not have been treated in the way he was’.
On Saturday, McGrath withdrew his charge of violent conduct against Azamati saying he apologised ‘unreservedly for the distress and any reputational damage which the publication of the charge may have caused him’.
Oxford University has insisted the Oxford Union is an independent society and the university has no control over its events.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.