A blind black student was “dragged by his ankles” out of a discussion room at Oxford Union, one of the UK’s most prominent debating organizations, in 2019, causing outrage.
Ebenezer Azamati, a 25-year-old Ghanaian postgraduate student studying international relations who was concerned that there were no specific arrangements for disabled students, arrived early on October 17 to reserve a seat at the Oxford Union.
According to several sources, Azamati reserved one of the seats at the chamber’s entrance by placing a book on it and returning to his college for dinner.
Officials disallowed his attendance and were observed manhandling him out of his seat when he returned later with a friend and sat down, according to the Daily Mail.
The Oxford University Africa Society (OUAS) was outraged by the incident, which was videotaped by a participant in the hall and showed an officer yanking him out of his seat, describing the entire scene as “violent, unjust, brutal, and disgraceful.”
Following the event, Azamati has stated that he feels “unwelcome” in the United Kingdom.
Azamati’s union membership was suspended for two terms after the incident, according to the Sunday Times, after the union’s president, Brendan McGrath, called a disciplinary committee meeting, alleging that Azamati had acted violently by thrusting an arm out and making aggressive hand gestures as he was being removed from his seat.
“Having my membership in the Oxford Union Society officially revoked made me feel unwelcome in the Union, Oxford, and even the country.” He told the New York Times, “I felt like I was treated as if I wasn’t human enough to deserve justice and fair treatment.”
“Thirty seconds after he [Azamati] sat down, the security guard came in,” claimed another student Henry Hatwell, 21, during his appearance before the disciplinary committee hearing on Saturday. He began patting Azamati, who was holding on to the bench, five seconds later. They were hauling him by his ankles in thirty seconds.”
McGrath formally dismissed the complaint of violent misbehavior against Azamati and apologized “unreservedly” for the grief and injury he had caused the 25-year-old blind Ghanaian student, according to the Guardian on Saturday.
Witnesses said at the hearing that Azamati was “dragged by his ankles” throughout the debate.
“The Oxford Union is an independent society,” Oxford University stated. The institution has no influence over the actions that take place on its campus.”