Deportation.class: A nightmare of a flight

On 28 May 1999, Aamir Ageeb died on board the Lufthansa aircraft LH 558 heading for Cairo. Three Federal Border Guards (BGS) had abused the 30-year-old so brutally that he suffocated. The Border Guards had forced a full-face helmet onto his head, bound his hands and feet and forcefully pushed his head onto his knees during take off.

Ageeb was not the first victim of brutal deportation practice in a Lufthansa plane. In August 1994, the Nigerian Kola Bankole was also killed on a Lufthansa scheduled flight. Borders Guards had bound the asylum-seeker who had a heart condition like a parcel, pushed a gag in his mouth and a doctor sedated him. Kola Bankole died before take off on the Rhein-Main airport.

In June 1999, still under the impression of the death of Aamir Ageeb, activists of the campaign "no one is illegal" protested against the murderous business with deportations at the general shareholder meeting of the 'Lufthansa AG'. They unrolled a banner and demanded consequences to be taken from the deaths of Kola Bankole and Aamir Ageeb, because the perpetrators had still not been brought to justice. The preliminary proceedings against the Border Guards who killed Aamir Ageeb are also coming to nothing.

This is different in Belgium. The death of Semira Adamu in fall 1998 created such a public outrage there that the Interior Minister had to resign. Police had suffocated the Nigerian woman with a pillow during her deportation to Lagos. In Austria also, the Interior Minister came under pressure when on 1 May 1999, the Nigerian Marcus Omofuma suffocated under sticking plaster during his deportation from Vienna to Sofia. Swissair took consequences from the death of the Palestinian Khaled Abuzarifeh, who died on the airport of Kloten in March 1999, after passengers protested against this kind of deportation practice in October. The airline company cancelled all so-called "Level 3" deportations. Since then, the Swissair personnel refuses take deportees who have been shackled, gagged or sedated by the Cantonal police force on board. The campaigns in Belgium and the Netherlands have intimidated European airlines. The Dutch company Martin Air was the first to see itself forced to give up the dirty deportation deals. After the death of Semira Adamu, the Belgium airline Sabena stopped the forceful transportation of deportees as well. Other airline companies, such as the French company Air France and the Dutch based KLM also fear for their image. Since the protest actions at the general meeting of auctioneers last year, the German Lufthansa now also finds itself under criticism. Lufthansa already stopped two deportations, literally at the last minute, due to protests at the check-ins at Paris-Orly. The biggest German airline has obviously got an image problem, too.

But up to now, Lufthansa does not want to give up this lucrative business. When in 1985, two refugees held broken glass pieces at the stewardesses necks in order to force the pilot to break off the flight, the airline company reacted immediately and refused to transport deportees without the accompaniment of security forces. However, one year later these reservations against deportation deals on the part of the board of directors had vanished - after all, the joint-stock company lost around 8 million DM turnover during that last year, the 'Stern' reported. Since then, half of the 10,000 refugees who are deported every year from the Rhein-Main airport alone, are flown out with Lufthansa scheduled flights. In order not to create a fuss with the passengers, the deportees, or 'Schüblinge' in BGS jargon, are boarded through the plane's backstairs and shoved into the last row. After all, the airline is at pain to keep discretion.

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