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"NO ONE IS ILLEGAL" NETWORK WILL NOT BE INTIMIDATED
18.10.2000 Lufthansa AG wants to ban an online exhibition. But the activists from the "no one is illegal" network will not be intimidated. They will continue to exhibit the posters online and offline. Internet providers from all over the world have offered to mirror the exhibition with the title "Deportation.Class".
The German activists from the "no one is illegal" network will not yield to corporate pressure. Last Monday an ultimatum issued by the aviation company Lufthansa expired. The corporation's lawyers demanded that one activist of "no one is illegal" and the Cologne newspaper "Kölner Stadtrevue" sign a "declaration of compliance" in which they agree to remove the poster exhibition from the web by 16 October.
The incriminated graphical works have been on exhibit since May of this year both on the World Wide Web, and as part of a travelling exhibition. Artists from all over Germany took part in a poster contest at the beginning of this year. "Kein Mensch ist illegal" had invited artists to design posters criticising the role of Lufthansa AG in deportations. The exhibition with the printed works is on tour in Europe and can be currently seen in the art gallery Exnergasse in Vienna.
In a letter received on 9 October, the lawyers of Lufthansa AG claim that the use of colours identical to those used by their client and of its registered trademark is illegal. Additionally they state that some of the posters insinuate that Lufthansa is directly linked with right-wing extremists. Should the actions be repeated, Lufthansa threatens recidivists with fines of 10,100 marks each. For Jan Hoffmann, speaker of the "Kein Mensch ist illegal" network, this threat can only been seen as an attempt at intimidation. Hoffmann has called Lufthansa's lawsuit a "bold attack on the freedom of art".
Since March of this year, "Kein Mensch ist illegal" has been giving the company a hard time with its numerous actions in airports, travel agencies and on the Internet. Under the provocative slogan "Deportation.Class - against the deportation business" the activists demand that Lufthansa give up this part of their business activity and refuse to transport forcibly boarded passengers. The slogan refers to the fact that besides the conventional First or Business Class there is a "Deportation.Class" in the last rows of many flights, although Lufthansa goes to great lengths to deny this.
The catalyst for the actions, which have been getting a lot of public attention, was the death of the Sudanese Aamir Ageeb, who died a violent death by suffocation in May 1999 on board a Lufthansa aircraft. The annual shareholders meeting of Lufthansa AG in June 2000 was overshadowed by protests as a result.
"We are convinced that the discussions between Lufthansa and the Federal Government were in no way concerned with Lufthansa giving up the 'Deportation.Class', as Lufthansa chief executive officer Weber had announced during the shareholders meeting in June. Instead they have probably decided to silence our campaign", says Jan Hoffman from "Kein Mensch ist illegal". He has received confidential information according to which so-called "problematic deportations" have become increasingly difficult over the last months, so that deportations have repeatedly been cancelled.
"Kein Mensch ist illegal" announced that they would be monitoring deportations carried out by the company with increased attention on an international level. In addition, spectacular actions will be used to increase public pressure on Lufthansa. At the same time refugees will be informed about their possibilities for resisting their deportation.
In the meantime, an international alliance has been launched to support the exhibition threatened by censorship. Only a few hours after the letter of Lufthansa lawyers was received on the 9th of October 2000, dozens of Internet providers spontaneously declared that they would grant "political asylum" to the exhibition.
"The only consequence of the company's taking legal action will be the further spreading of critical views on the company", says Jan Hoffmann. Lufthansa AG would be better advised to take care of its damaged public image - not least of all abroad - instead of threatening critics of their deportation practices with horrendous compensation claims. "The company has to stop deporting people in its Deportation.Class - not the exhibition!"
or through the telephone number: ++49/172-8910825
-- Please write to Lufthansa AG to tell them what you think of making business with deportations: email@example.com
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