Ben HaywardNovember 21st
2019

The president of the Oxford University Union debating society has been forced to resign after a blind student was reportedly ‘dragged by his ankles’ from a debate event in Oxford.

Ebenezer Azamati, was forcibly removed from the Oxford Union event by a security guard after he tried to return to a seat he believed he had previously reserved.

Caught on video, the incident prompted fierce backlash as well as calls for Brendan McGrath, president of the Oxford Union, to resign over the ‘inhumane and shameful’ treatment of the 25-year-old Ghanaian PhD student.

Oxford Union President Resigns

A petition calling for Mr McGrath to step down, launched by the Oxford University Africa Society (OUAS), has now been signed by approaching 50,000 people since the video of the incident began circulating in the media. 

As reported by The Independent, Mr Azamati, an international relations student had arrived early to attend a debate last month in order 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 when he attempted to sit in his reserved seat before security officials confronted him, manhandling him out of the building.

Mr Azamati said the incident left him feeling ‘unwelcome in the union, Oxford and even the country’.

A statement from Mr McGrath, who had previously accused Mr Azamati of ‘behaving violently’, posted on the Oxford Union Facebook site on Tuesday evening, said: 

“Fundamentally, it is the president’s job to ensure that every member feels welcome at the Oxford Union. This is a goal I have manifestly failed to reach. For all of my shortcomings, and all of my mistakes, I apologise profusely and unqualifiedly.

“I can only hope that my relative public silence is not interpreted as being uncaring, or taking the matter lightly.”

An appeal hearing on Saturday heard evidence from student Henry Hatwell, who said: “Thirty seconds after he [Mr 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.”

However, in a statement issued through Bindmans, the lawyers representing Mr Azamati, he said: “Mr McGrath and the union have yet to acknowledge that I have done nothing wrong, which is upsetting. I would like the union to state now, clearly and straightforwardly, that I am not at fault in any way for the way I was treated.”

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