A student sit-in at the University of Sussex has ended peacefully – but campaigners have vowed to continue their fight to stop a former student being deported.
Luqman Onikosi has been told he must leave the country, a decision described as a “death sentence” because he suffers from a chronic liver condition caused by Hepatitis B which his two brothers have died of.
He was first threatened with deportation in 2012, after he first graduated from the University of Sussex and became too ill to work.
He applied for leave to remain on medical grounds, and also signed up for a masters. But after his application was turned down and his appeal failed, the Home Office instructed the university to throw him off the course.
The three-day sit in at Bramber House ended on Friday, but more meetings and demonstrations are planned and more than 34,000 people have now signed a petition.
One of the students who joined the sit-in, who asked to be referred to only by his first name, Liam, said: “We left because about 15 bailiffs turned up and we decided just to leave.
“But tonight we have a meeting with the university to address the issues and we have got quite a lot of events planned.
“It’s not the end so much as a dramatic beginning.
“Luqman came up to support the occupation and was happy with how it had gone, even though he was disappointed because he didn’t get his masters.
A University of Sussex spokesperson said: “We are, and always have been, very sorry to know of Mr Onikosi’s illness. It’s clear that staff and students across the University care passionately about his plight and we sympathise with his situation.
Although we fully appreciate there are many people who support Mr Onikosi, his visa status has been determined by the Home Office. The University has around 2000 students and 90 members of staff who require a special visa in order to study and work in the UK, and it’s for this reason that we can’t comment any further on the Home Office, as we don’t wish to risk the visa status of these people.
The University has an obligation to keep all students on campus safe, including those who were based in our conference room. Although we had a court order to return the building to its normal use, we are pleased the students chose to leave the building of their own accord.
We respect the right for everyone in our community to express their views peacefully and throughout this period we have continued to listen to the views of our students.”
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