Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) have today marched alongside Dublin City University Students’ Union (DCUSU) to protest the pending deportation of a DCU student. Trinity students met outside House Six, where they marched alongside the students’ union to the Department of Justice and Equality.
The march saw over 80 students march in protest of the decision, while also being joined by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). The protest lasted an hour and a half, with students gathering at the department building at 12.30pm.
DCU student Shepherd Machaya has been studying at DCU under the University of Sanctuary scheme. He was recently issued with a deportation order, which intended to fulfill his removal from the state by 21 October. A petition opposing this move has garnered over 8,500 signatures at the time of writing.
Machaya currently studies Management of Information Technology and Information Systems in DCU, after completing a Level Five software course in Portlaoise College in 2017. According to Change.org’s petition, deportation would subject him to the “threat of torture from local ‘political’ groups”. These are the same groups that “drove him from the country nine years ago”.
DCUSU’s petition also notes that “like all students, he should be afforded the right to complete the studies he has thrived in thus far. Despite his challenging living circumstances in Direct Provision, he has overcome great odds to advance academically”. They also say that he had passed his first year in DCU with “flying colours”.
DCUSU have also released a public letter to Minister for Justice and Equality addressing the issue. It explains how Machaya fled Zimbabwe, and said that if he was to return “he would be in imminent danger, with the potential of facing more torture from political groups that he came here to escape”. It also added that this was “following the death of his best friends at the hands of the same”.
Concluding their open letter, DCUSU urged Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan to take “executive action on this case and revoke Shepherd’s deportation order”. They argued that from the “cries of students online and on the ground across our university and growing support”, that this decision is “in no one’s best interest”.
Speaking to Trinity News, Solidarity-People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, said he supported the protest because it’s “absolutely cruel and inhuman that the state would even consider deporting Shepherd Machaya after being here nine years. He’s already suffered the hardship of the Direct Provision system…He can make a huge contribution to Irish society. Why would our government send him back to a place where he has suffered very real persecution, where he could be killed or suffer very very grave danger?”
Meanwhile DCUSU Vice-President for Education and Placement, Craig McHugh, said: “[It’s] totally unfair. DCU is a University of Sanctuary, which grants scholarships to refugees. It should be a safe space for Shepherd. He’s had death threats and been tortured in the past.”
Additional reporting by Ciaran Sunderland, Aisling Grace and Niamh Lynch