North West Wales

Petition to stop 'exceptional' Bangor student's deportation

Shiromini Satkunarajah Image copyright Shiromini Satkunarajah
Image caption Shiromini Satkunarajah: "An exceptionally able and diligent student"

Thousands of people have signed a petition to stop the deportation of a Bangor University student.

Shiromini Satkunarajah, 20, who was born in Sri Lanka but has lived in the UK for eight years, is due to finish her electrical engineering degree this summer.

She was arrested on Tuesday and taken to a detention centre to await deportation on 28 February.

The Home Office said it did not routinely comment on individual cases.

Miss Satkunarajah arrived in the UK in 2009 as a dependant on her father's student visa.

He died in 2011 but she and her mother were allowed to stay while she completed her secondary education and started a university course.

Further grants of Leave to Remain and of asylum were denied, but Miss Satkunarajah has been allowed to stay in the UK while appealing.

On 21 February, she was told that her asylum application had been rejected and has now launched a petition calling on the home secretary to reconsider.

More than 15,000 people had signed it by Sunday.

Image copyright David Stowell/Geograph
Image caption Miss Satkunarajah is an electrical engineering student at Bangor University

"I was handed the refusal letter which states 'You do not have a right to appeal or administrative review against the decision to refuse your application'," she said.

"I seek for help from everyone to overturn the decision to deport me on 28 February."

A family member, who asked not to be named, told BBC Wales: "It is not fair that she only has three months left to finish her degree. At least let her finish that.

"Shiromini came here when she was 12, her friends and family are here. She knows no-one and has nothing at all in Sri Lanka."

Iestyn Pierce, head of electrical engineering at Bangor University, described her as an "exceptionally able and diligent" student on course for a first class honours degree.

"Shiromini figures among the very best students, having secured very high grades in her examinations this January," he added.

"If allowed to graduate she would be sure to be a valuable member of the workforce in what is a world-wide shortage subject."

'Heartless indifference'

Student groups and the acting Bishop of London, Pete Broadbent, have also spoken out on Miss Satkunarajah's behalf.

Bishop Broadbent said: "To deport her weeks before she finishes her degree and to remove her from the community that supports her seems draconian and harms both her and our church community.

"I would urge the authorities to exercise their discretion to enable this bright young woman to finish her degree."

Arfon MP Hywel Williams accused the Home Office of showing "heartless indifference" to Miss Satkunarajah.

"Her imminent deportation is not only unjust and unfair but will deprive Wales and indeed the UK economy of the contribution she will make," he said.

"Sri Lanka is still a very dangerous place and Shiromini has had no real ties with the country."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who genuinely need it, and every case is carefully considered on its individual merits."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites