LORD Apetsi is a father of two. He is, as I was just a few years ago, a Glasgow student. He was recently elected the Asylum Seeker officer for the National Union of Students (NUS) in Scotland. His friends speak of a compassionate, dedicated man eager to create a just world. This month, after nine years in this country, he was detained by the UK Home Office. This morning he sits in a cell awaiting deportation from the UK.

His crime is to be Ghanaian. His misfortune is to live under a government cruel enough to place racist asylum laws above a child’s need for their father. His fate, as has been enforced on too many others, is to be removed like cargo from Stansted Airport at 11am today never to return.

If it hadn’t been for his classmates and the NUS we may never have even known his name. Yesterday hundreds gathered outside Edinburgh’s ‘UK Government in Scotland’ office to demand Lord’s release. Friends travelled to London, directly confronting the Home Office in protest. They cited article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to a family life. They cried out for the recognition of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. Logically, they challenged an abusive system that arrests and deports the vulnerable – a system that still imprisons children.

But the UK Home Office, its record bruised by perpetual asylum scandals, spites calls for compassion at every turn. It blames a timing error in the application process from Lord’s lawyer for his deportation. On that flimsy pretext, families are broken and lives ruined.

I asked for justification. I received 17 words. If you had lived and loved somewhere for nine years, if you had built your life in a far-off land – would you not expect more?

Lord was elected, in this very same month, to advocate on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers. He sought to be a voice for those who fled violence and chaos only to become the victim of that very same rigid, impoverishing xenophobia of UK asylum laws. Raj Jeyaray, vice president at Strathclyde Student Association, has said that Lord now fears for his life as he had originally been forced to flee Ghana.

The UK’s shame is that Lord’s story is far from exceptional. Just as the protests dispersed yesterday, others were gathering on Brand Street – the Ibrox HQ for the mistreatment of asylum seekers in Scotland.

Reports emerged that Beverly Kanjii, another asylum seeker rights activist from Namibia, had been detained alongside her 14-year-old son for deportation. Beverley said she was assaulted by immigration officers at her home in Bridgeton, an allegation the Home Office refused to comment on. Supporters spread across the street in a desperate blockade to prevent her removal.

Years after the now celebrated struggle of the Glasgow Girls – Drumchapel High teenagers who launched a campaign against dawn raids and maltreatment of asylum families – the same stories scar Scotland.

Despite the upsurge of support for asylum rights following the death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi last September, misdirected anger remains widespread and deep-seated. While a few thousand Syrian refugees will be welcomed, punitive asylum laws have been kept in place. Given Britain’s global history, this is a particularly sour irony.

To allow those born elsewhere to live happy and peaceful lives in this country is the least the UK should do. Its collective wealth, including Scotland’s, relied heavily on the exploitation of countries like Ghana. Ghana was occupied, its gold stolen, and its people suppressed.

That colonialism remains a toxic influence on national life. A recent poll found that a majority of the UK public believed that the British Empire – one of the world’s most murderous, racist regimes – was a force to be “proud” of.

That same public hypocrisy extends to supporting mass British migration to countries like Spain, but opposing emigration from other countries to Britain.

For people like myself these shortfalls are contradictions I can freely mock and challenge. For Lord Apetsi, Beverly Kanjii and many others they carry more serious, traumatic consequences.

Blame cannot only be pinned on politicians – the right-wing fantasists of Ukip and bandwagon-jumping Tories seeking a distraction from their attacks on the poor and disabled. Yes, they have their share.

But beyond the political cliques and screaming tabloids there is a quiet, everyday racism in our society. It seeks to remove human sympathy for the most vulnerable based on their skin colour or country of origin.

That shame, which allows the Government to abuse and split families with impunity, is something we can all confront. Until – I hope within my lifetime – detention centres like Dungavel are no more.

Demonstrators call for halt to deportation of student leader Lord Elias Mensah Apetsi