Deportation order against UK-based Sri Lankan student reversed

A Sri Lankan student at Wales’ Bangor University has avoided being deported by UK immigration services following a nationwide campaign against the ruling supported by her local member of parliament.

Shiromini Satkunajarah, 20, was arrested along with her mother Roshani last week, and was scheduled to be put on a Qatar Airways flight to Sri Lanka from Manchester on Tuesday.

More than 140,000 people signed a petition calling for Satkunajarah and her mother to be allowed to remain in the country, with academics, church leaders, and politicians also expressing solidarity.

After being arrested during a routine fortnightly sign-on in Bangor on Tuesday 21 February the electrical engineering student and her mother were detained in separate cells.

They were told their asylum application had been denied and they would be removed from the country.

They were then transferred to Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire, but released on Monday night.

Arfon MP Hywel Williams announced the reversal on Monday evening. He raised the issue earlier in the day in the House of Commons, when he stated that repeated attempts to speak with the minister of state for immigration Robert Goodwill MP about the case came to no avail.

“I’d like to thank everyone who backed the campaign,” Williams told the press.

“The outpouring of support from across the country has been staggering… of course the campaign to right this unjust situation is not over. There is clearly something seriously wrong with the current system; an issue which I intend to pursue further.”

Bangor University contacted the Home Office after finding out about Satkunajarah’s detention requesting she be allowed to complete her studies.

“Our view is that it would be in the best interests of the student that she be allowed to complete her studies at Bangor University,” a spokesperson at the Welsh university told BuzzFeed News.

“The university has also been in touch with Shiromini to assure her that she has our support and we would very much wish to see her being able to complete her degree.”

Satkunajarah is on course to graduate with a first-class degree in three months. However, despite campaigning on her behalf itremains unclear whether she will be allowed to remain in the country to complete her studies.

The Bangor student’s legal team is also set to write to the home office explaining why she should be allowed to remain in the country, reported The Guardian.

Satkunarajah’s parents fled to the UK from Sri Lanka when she was 12-years-old during the Sri Lankan civil war. Her father, who was given a student visa, died in 2011.

Satkunarajah was given leave to complete her secondary application but her and her mother consequently had an asylum application denied, leading to the deportation process.