On December 25, 2019, Otis Bolamu, 39, was due to return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo from where he is from. The British Immigration Service had planned to return him there after one year of detention in the UK for irregular status. An initiative that was unsuccessful after a national campaign in support of the young Congolese.
On leaving the detention center, Otis Bolamu cannot hide his joy. « I am very, very happy today, » he told the Guardian. « Now I can sleep again (…) When the immigration authorities kept me in detention, they kept telling me to sign a document in which I approved of returning to the DRC. I kept telling them I couldn’t go back there because I would be killed. Now I am saved, ”added the young man.
His recent history with the Democratic Republic of the Congo is written on dark pages, he says. While an agent at the Congolese Election Commission during the last election, he was allegedly targeted for « spying » for the benefit of the opposition, when he was only denouncing a case of fraud against an opposition candidate. Detained for nine days, he was allegedly subjected to torture, before escaping from prison thanks to a friend of his father who succeeded in bribing a soldier.
« I just want to say thank you to the power of the people. Everyone was so kind in mobilizing to get me out of detention. »
Extracted from the country, he managed to find asylum in the United Kingdom in October 2017, but not for long. Declared in an irregular situation, he is threatened with deportation on December 25, 2019. An announcement that mobilized a national campaign to guarantee Bolamu refugee status. A petition was launched and 60,000 people signed it, demanding that the immigration authorities keep it in the UK.
Today, Otis Bolamu lives in Swansea and is a volunteer with the NGO Oxfam. He is also taking English lessons and soon hopes to use his knowledge of science acquired in the DRC to serve his new community.
“I would just like to say thank you to the power of the people. Everyone was so kind in mobilizing to get me out of detention. And even when I got out, they didn’t stop. They continued to support me, « said Bolamu, who now has refugee status in the United Kingdom.
This Thursday, January 16, his community of Oxfam, in Swansea, intends to dedicate a celebration ceremony to him.