By UK media
MORE than 12,000 people have backed a campaign by Dublin City University (DCU) to block the deportation of a student to Zimbabwe, where it is claimed he will be threatened with torture by political groups.
Shepherd Machaya, 32, has been living in a direct provision centre for nine years after he fled his home country, but his application for asylum has failed, according to the students’ union.
He was issued with a deportation order dated for Sunday, and those supporting his campaign to stay in Ireland fear that his removal is imminent.
The student earned a place at DCU under its “university of sanctuary” programme for asylum seekers and is in his second year studying management of information technology and information systems.
Vito Moloney Burke, the students’ union president, said that Machaya had been a model student and was committed to contributing to Irish society.
The union is calling on Charlie Flanagan, the justice minister, to block Machaya’s deportation and let him stay because it claims that he could face torture from the same political groups that he said had forced him out of his country.
Machaya said that he had been harassed and received death threats while in Zimbabwe.
“I am facing deportation and running out of days,” he said in a video for the #SaveOurShepherd campaign.
“When I started studying here in DCU, I made friends with a lot of people here. Ireland, to me, has become like my second home.
“This is the only other place I know, apart from Zimbabwe. For me, my life is still in danger if I go back.”
An online petition calling on the government to let the second-year student stay in Ireland had more than 12,000 signatures at the time of publication.
“Like all students, he should be afforded the right to complete the studies he has thrived in thus far,” a statement introducing the petition on the Change.org website said.
“Despite his challenging living circumstances in direct provision, he has overcome great odds to advance academically. He completed a Level 5 course in software development in Portlaoise College in 2017, one more step towards fulfilling his potential.
“He has contributed so much to this country and has aspirations of continuing to do so, passing his first year in DCU with flying colours and dreaming of a career in systems analysis.
“Should he be deported, he will be faced with the threat of torture from local ‘political’ groups, the very people who drove him out of the country nine years ago. He will not be safe.”
Last week staff and students at the university took part in a protest outside the Department of Justice to raise concerns about Machaya’s case.
— DCU Students' Union (@DCUSU) October 19, 2018