The Forcible Deportation Of An Afghan Asylum Seeker

The Forcible Deportation Of An Afghan Asylum Seeker

With Trump's constant rhetoric among his supporters of the antagonism and fear of refugees, it's important to remember not to group people with the very groups by which they have been victimized, violated, and threatened.
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Samim Bigzad, an Afghan man who fled from Afghanistan to the United Kingdom after being threatened with beheading by the Taliban, was denied his application of asylum in the country and was put on a plane to be sent back to Afghanistan. Activists quietly informed passengers of the flight at the airport that the flight would be forcibly deporting the man to Afghanistan in hopes that someone would prevent it. As three guards attempted to force him onto the plane through his refusals and shouts, including the statement "I’m going to get killed in Afghanistan," he was forced onto the flight.

But right before takeoff, the pilot of the flight, who has not yet been identified, refused to fly him much to Bigzad's shock and happiness. He was then sent back to detention in the UK.

According to an interview for The Independent with Bigzad’s cousin, "Samim said they were in the tunnel by the door when the pilot came out and said: 'You’re not going to take him, I’m not flying. Someone’s life is at risk.'"

Under the regulations of the Europe Aviation Safety Agency, a pilot is responsible for the “safety of the aircraft and of all crew members, passengers, and cargo on board.” This gives the pilot the authority to decide who gets on the plane, who doesn’t, when the plane takes off, or if it does at all.

The interview claims that Kavel Rafferty said she had given up all hope for the asylum seeker, who had been staying with her for four months, when she received a phone call from the Brook House immigration removal center near Gatwick.

“The last message I’d had from him was so sad – it just said ‘they’ve come to take me’ and then the phone was switched off,” she added.

With the pilot’s refusal to fly him, Bigzad and his family filed for asylum once again with new evidence of the threat to his life, but another deportation attempt is very much expected by the government.

The Independent also reports:

"Bigzad was repeatedly threatened by the Taliban because of his work for a construction company that had contracts with the Afghan government and American firms – both regarded as enemies by the Islamist insurgents. After receiving phone calls telling him he would be beheaded by militants who knew where he lived and worked, he risked his life to reach the UK via Turkey, Greece and France, almost suffocating in a lorry from Calais. He arrived in Britain in November 2015, moving to Kent to join relatives and care for his father, a British citizen and former Afghan national who suffers from mental illness after being imprisoned and tortured by the Taliban in the 1990s."

The activist groups are planning on employing the same strategies to prevent his deportation in the future as well as the deportation of other asylum seekers whose lives would be in great danger if they are sent back to the countries from which they fled.

To the people that claim that refugee screening is not strong enough, this is clear evidence to the contrary. Asylum seekers are forced to present evidence that many have no way of obtaining. The Home Office issues impossible requests for original documents from Kabul and other bureaucratic obstacles and set the bar far too high to prove the risk to life beyond a reasonable doubt. Many like Bigzad simply cannot meet the standards and are sent back even though their fears are very real.

With Trump's new travel ban coming into force and the constant rhetoric among his supporters of the antagonism and fear of refugees, it's important to remember not to group people with the very groups by which they have been victimized, violated, and threatened. For this reason, as time passes it is important to remember cases like Bigzad's, who provide a perfect example of this.

Cover Image Credit: Jordan Sanchez / Unsplash

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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My First Political Debate Experience Only Revealed The Messed-Up Reality Of American Partisan Pandering

More sinister than fake news, more timeless than Trump and Kavanaugh, the deceit and radicalization of modern politics is poisoning America.

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Given my age (almost 16 and a half!) and my nonpartisan perspective on most issues, it's rare that I attend any politically motivated function (much less in person). Unfortunately, my first taste of official political discourse only encapsulated everything I dislike about American politics.

Upon learning that my high school was hosting a debate between two candidates for the district's representative position, I was immediately intrigued. Admittedly, I had my expectations set high. I had jotted down "House Rep. Debate" on my calendar a week in advance and marked off the days the event neared. I would finally get to learn firsthand about the issues affecting my community and about the people with plans to fix them.

To a certain extent I got what I had hoped for, but certainly not in the environment I had anticipated.

When the student moderators introduced the candidates, Democrat Angelika Kausche and Republican Kelly Stewart, to the stage, it was already abundantly clear how ideologically distinct the two opponents would be.

The first question, which asked each candidate to describe how their views aligned with their party's platform, revealed just how cut-and-dry the candidates were at representing their respective factions. On the left, an unwavering conservative with a keen avoidance of overspending and socialist policies. On the right, an equally grounded liberal with a passion for tackling humanitarian injustices and enforcing moral correctness.

This circumstance certainly isn't unprecedented, but the rest of the night only proved how their narrow-minded partisan loyalty served as barriers to productive discourse.

Right off the bat, Kausche avoided the clearly stated question by taking the time to thank the John's Creek Community Association for hosting the event.

Stewart, however, dove right into her response, which turned out to be a fine-tuned diatribe about Georgia's budgetary deficit and Kausche's supposed lack of budgetary experience and the budgetary concerns and the budget. Finally, Stewart concluded that perhaps the most important thing to consider is, you guessed it, the budget. She even printed out budget sheets for attendees, which I found extraordinarily useful as a handy notepad.

My head perked up when I heard a question regarding Georgia's healthcare policies. Admittedly, I know less than I should about the subject and was curious to know what each candidate thought.

Shockingly, Republican Kelly Stewart opposed the expansion of Medicaid while Democrat Angelika Kausche vehemently supported it. I start to wonder what the point of having candidates' names on the ballot is when their political stances just as much could be conveyed with the letters "D" and "R" to the tee.

Neither candidate veered from their party platform for the rest of the night, with only a few moments of forced agreement (always around the fact that an issue exists, never about how to solve it). On a few occasions, a candidate would utter an especially radical idea (i.e. Obamacare is at blame for the opioid crisis. Medicaid should be for all people. Teachers should be armed.) and was almost always met with either overwhelming applause or a sea of groans.

The room's reaction was so powerful in either candidate's favor that I was genuinely confused who was the more favored of the two.

To be abundantly clear, I wholeheartedly support voter efficacy and staying informed, and I understand that debates inform voters of their representative's ideals. I also don't mean to criticize Kausche or Stewart or even the policies they endorse. I only question the point of debate when it's anchored in stiff, unrelenting party platforms. This is symptomatic of the larger trend at work in American politics: the exploitation of party differences by politicians to entice a demographic of their constituents.

If you're wondering what that means or demand evidence, just take President Trump. Back in 2016, his presidential campaign threatened to run as independent when he felt he wasn't getting enough support from the GOP. Now, he champions radicalized views of the right and has emboldened members of the far-right (along with alt-right neo-Nazis and racists) with his entirely anti-PC attitude.

Similarly, it's rare to find a democratic politician that deviates from the extensive list of liberal ideas that are expected of them. Consider Trump's opponent Hilary Clinton, who originally made it clear in 2014 that she was against nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. Isn't it suspicious that in 2015, without explaining why her stance changed, her presidential campaign later advocated for this right, thus garnering support from the LGBT community?

There's so much more wrong with the state of American politics than your opposed party controlling political office.

The effect of the American people allowing this pandering and doublespeak is political inaction among policymakers, who can preach a set of ideals independent of their actual intentions.

The other result is voter apathy among constituents, who therefore feel their vote holds little weight.

With such deceitful rhetorical tactics dominating the political sphere, it's easy to believe that we've all been given a voice. But when that voice only ever tells us what we want to hear, it's important that we stop to question whether we're really being heard.

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