Response to Guardian article

The chair of our board of trustees comments in response to news that our chief executive, Sabir Zazai's father has been denied a UK visitors visa. 

As Chair of the Board of Scottish Refugee Council, I was delighted to learn that the University of Glasgow is to award our Chief Executive, Sabir Zazai, an honorary doctorate in recognition of his substantial contribution on behalf of people seeking refugee protection in the UK. It is therefore with considerable sadness that I have learned that the Home Office has refused a visitor’s visa for his father to attend the ceremony. This is a perverse decision and along with our friends at the University of Glasgow and others, we are challenging this.

 Graduations are traditionally times of celebration when the graduate is joined by family and friends to enjoy their special day. People travel long distances to be with their loved ones on such occasions. For the Home Office to refuse Sabir’s father a visitor’s visa on the grounds that he is not a genuine visitor on such a day defies common sense.

For the University of Glasgow to bestow such a degree on Sabir and in doing so recognising the contribution of everybody at Scottish Refugee Council is a very special honour. For the Home Office to prevent his father attending adds a sour note to the proceedings and is a shameful insult to the university.

We know that Sabir is not alone in being confronted with seemingly arbitrary decision making around visitor visas to the UK. But it is particularly sad for all of us who know Sabir as a colleague and friend to witness the deep hurt this has caused him and his family in what should be a proud moment in his life.

The board of Scottish Refugee Council along with our friends at the University of Glasgow and others are challenging this manifestly unfair decision in the expectation that it will be corrected as a matter of urgency.