florian schneider on 1 Feb 2001 22:27:37 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> news from the DEPORTATION CLASS


below you find a remarkable article, which appeared last
monday in Wall Street Journal. it's about the ongoing
campaign against deportations carried out by the german
airline corporation LUFTHANSA. the deportation class
campaign was started one year ago by "no one is illegal"

but first some news from the inside of the campaign:

1. currently a relaunch of the deportation class campaign is
under construction. there are good chances for a final
break-through before the lufthansa shareholder meeting next

2. at the same time the deportation class campaign is picked
up in various countries across europe and in the united
states. no one is illegal activists are emphasizing, that
any aviation company, which might be willing to replace
lufthansa in the deportation business, will have to fear an
even stronger campaign. this refers to private charter
companies as well as to corporations such as BALCAN AIRS,
TAROM or AIR BOSNA. the latter two airlines are currently
the main deportation carriers in order to evict persons from
various german airports to prishtina... if you are
interested in further informations please contact: 

3. all kind of material and immaterial action, online and
offline activity is helpful and very high estimated: flyers,
banners, posters, links, pranks, picketings etc. a selection
of evaluated products is going to be distributed through the
deportation class online-shop

in addition everybody who contributes smth to the
deportation class campaign can join the new ACTIVE MILES

those who have collected enough active miles will
automatically gain the status of a casual/super/hyper
activist and may enter the BORDER LOUNGE with unlimited
access to inspiring informations and conspiring debates. of
course one can also get directly in touch with the


4. this year the german "no one is illegal" network 
and the critical shareholders association 
are calling again to collect lufthansa shares, in order to
borrow them temporarily to high motivated activists, who
would like to attend the annual shareholder conference. if
you own lufthansa shares or think about buying some 
in the nearest future, please contact the networks adresses
as soon as possible. [here are some pictures from the
shareholder meeting 2000, when the activists temporarily
possessed shares to the amount of several million euros]

5. maybe you remember, that last october lufthansa lawyers
tried to sue an individual activist and a internet provider 
because of the deportation class online poster exhibition.
meanwhile one of these posters was nominated for the
International Political Poster Triennale, a prestigous
exhibition in mons/belgium from 24th of march till 27th of
may. lufthansa did not continue with their legal threats.

[to be continued]



The Wall Street Journal January 29, 2001

Lufthansa Agrees to Change Policy On Deportees After Tragic

Dow Jones Newswires

FRANKFURT -- Lufthansa AG had more than a security crisis on
its hands after a Sudanese passenger was killed on board
flight 558 in May 1999. The German press had begun to pick
up on the story of how Aamir Ageeb was smothered to death by
security guards when he resisted being deported to his
homeland. According to a human rights group, Mr. Ageeb's
feet and hands were bound to his seat, and he was wearing a
helmet to keep him from harming himself while thrashing.
Security guards pushed the man's head between his knees to
further constrain him, and he was lifeless when they raised
it. Mr. Ageeb had suffocated to death.

About two weeks after the shocking incident, Lufthansa's
board of management met to discuss the matter. Sitting
around the boardroom table that overlooks the runways at
Frankfurt airport, Nicolai von Ruckteschell, Lufthansa's
general counsel, informed Chief Executive Juergen Weber that
German law has a loophole allowing the company to decline
deportations -- if a rejected asylum seeker physically
resisted. If a deportee believes he is being delivered back
into a political situation that can mean death, he may have
little left to lose by violently defending himself.

"We asked ourselves, why are we doing this? Why are we
carrying such people?" Mr. von Ruckteschell says. The legal
team spoke with Lufthansa security experts, and executives
considered what it must be like for other passengers to see
someone bound and gagged in the seat next to them. It was
immediately clear that Lufthansa needed to use the loophole
to form a new corporate policy, Mr. von Ruckteschell says.
Without much further discussion, the board of management
agreed unanimously to stop transporting deportees who
resisted. Only those who didn't resist would be allowed on

Thus, a tragic death was the genesis of a new corporate
policy. "It usually takes a scandal for companies to begin
looking at values management," says Dirk Gilbert, a
professor at the European Business School and author of an
upcoming book on corporate ethics.

Seeking Asylum

Last year, about 80,000 people sought asylum in Germany, a
nation with one of the world's most refugee-friendly laws.
Germany's post-War constitution laid the groundwork; anyone
who is politically persecuted has a right to apply for
asylum. Most asylum seekers come from Iraq, Turkey,
Afghanistan and Eastern Europe. And about 20% eventually win
the right to stay, the government says. An estimated 10,000
were returned to their countries via Lufthansa last year.
For Lufthansa's general counsel, the decision to use the
loophole wasn't one of an ethical nature. "It was a sober
and matter-of-fact decision, and it was a fast one since the
management board was being fully informed of its rights for
the first time," says Mr. von Ruckteschell. A spokesman
adds, "It was a clear business decision. We want our
passengers to feel good and secure about flying with

Up until the incident, Lufthansa had focused on its legal
obligation to transport any passenger with valid travel
papers and a ticket, even if those were supplied by the
German government. Asylum seekers who arrive from countries
deemed safe are often considered economic refugees and sent
home on the next flight back. If there are grounds to
believe an asylum seeker is a victim of political
persecution, the person's case will be heard. If it is
rejected, and the decision is upheld by a court, the German
government gives the asylum seeker a period of time to leave
the country by his or her choice of transportation. If the
asylum seeker doesn't leave, the government deports the
person, often by plane, according to a spokesman for the
German interior ministry. Lufthansa is deeply involved in
this chain of events, since the former national carrier has
the most direct flights to Germany. If a plane from Sudan
lands in Switzerland before arriving at its final
destination in Germany, the asylum seeker would have to make
his case in Switzerland.

Asylum Policies

No Human Is Illegal, an international network of antiracist
groups that targets numerous airlines and governments on
their deportation and asylum policies, is calling on
Lufthansa to summarily give up transporting deportees. It
claims Lufthansa hasn't done enough by starting the policy
of transporting only those who go without putting up a
fight. Some people, including women and children, aren't
strong enough to physically defend themselves, and it's
difficult to monitor whether a person is being forced, the
group contends. Indeed, a German paper recently reported
that two rejected asylum seekers claimed they were given a
tranquilizing injection to calm them before they were forced
on planes out of Germany, albeit not on Lufthansa flights.

"We think Lufthansa should stop deporting on ethical and
economic grounds," says Gisela Seidler, the group's
spokeswoman and a human-rights lawyer in Munich. Ms. Seidler
says the damage to Lufthansa's image is much greater than
the few sales generated from deporting asylum seekers.

Lufthansa argues that it really has no decision to make,
since the company is required by law to transport all
ticketed passengers, including deportees. And besides, the
airline says, it offers a more humane way of carrying
deportees than what they might experience on freight planes,
buses or ships.

"We don't hold Lufthansa responsible for Germany's asylum
laws, but they're part of the chain," Ms. Seidler says. The
group is also targeting KLM and other European carriers.
Sabena, a Belgian carrier, stopped transporting deportees
after a Nigerian woman was suffocated when police put a
pillow over her face while on board a flight in 1998, the
group says. And Swissair banned flying deportees in manacles
after a Palestinian died on a flight in 1999.

The group is taking Lufthansa to task for declining to turn
its policy about deportees into a written code of conduct
and for carrying out any deportations. A spokesman says the
company's policy is crystal clear and it was stated
repeatedly in in-house newsletters and at the annual
shareholders' meeting. "We don't see the need to put it in
cement. It's clear. It came from the CEO's mouth," he says.
No Human Is Illegal also attended the shareholders' meeting,
where it passed out literature depicting Lufthansa's logo
with the slogan "Deportation Class." Activists bound
themselves to chairs to demonstrate how they believe some
deportees are still treated.

Corporate Soul-Searching

A number of factors have come together to cause German
companies, including Lufthansa, to deal more readily with
the issue of corporate ethics. When BASF AG pays a
settlement in a vitamin price-fixing scandal, or
pharmaceutical firms answer tough questions on gene-related
research, other companies begin their own soul searching.
The rise of multinational, non-governmental groups and the
gains they have made in protesting corporate policies is
another factor.

A representative of Amnesty International, which has spoken
out against people being deported into dangerous situations,
is attending the Davos meetings, as is Lufthansa's Mr.
Weber. "We accept that governments have the right to deport
people, but we say that only reasonable force should be
used. We don't have any policy related to what airlines
should do, because the captain of the airplane has ultimate
authority," says Amnesty International's Matthew Pringle,
who reports on Central Europe and the western parts of the
Commonwealth of Independent States.

Pilots do have the last say about who is allowed on board,
since they are ultimately held responsible for the safety of
the passengers. A spokesman for a pilots' association in
Germany declines to comment on the matter. "We stick to
Lufthansa's policy on this and stay out of the politics," he

Finally, little guys, or groups of little guys, also have a
loud voice in corporate decision making. Shareholder
activism means general meetings can become hotbeds of
debate, with individual and institutional investors passing
judgment on corporate policies. German companies face
particular scrutiny for their business practices, given
corporate involvement in the Nazi regime. And all eyes are
focused on the country when reports of racism emerge. No
Human is Illegal has raised the question of whether
non-whites are more often mistreated than others by border
police in Germany.

Kadiata Batobo, a 31-year-old Congolese citizen who studied
information science, says he was beaten up by border police
after he resisted deportation on a Lufthansa flight. He came
to Germany Jan. 1, 1998, posing as the son of a Nigerian
diplomat. He had been jailed in Congo for political reasons,
and escaped when another inmate, his friend, was shot, he
said in French through an interpreter. Mr. Batobo is living
in a home for asylum-seekers in Munich. The German
government gives them a free place to stay and food while
they wait for their cases to be heard.

"We find it absolutely absurd that people are deported
today, when governments are loudly bemoaning a shrinking
labor force. In today's globalized world, where capital and
information flows freely, we think it's absurd that people
can't move around freely," Ms. Seidler says.

A host of groups deal with the theme of corporate ethics in
Germany, including the European Business Ethics Network, the
German Network for Business Ethics, the Institute for
Business and Social Ethics, universities and consultancies.
Also, a group of senior business executives regularly meet
to discuss ethical issues in the spa town of Baden-Baden.

This nationwide discussion on ethics may have inadvertently
helped Mr. Batobo. He had exhausted his legal right to stay
in Germany and was headed home into a precarious situation.
By physically defending himself against deportation, and
because Lufthansa implemented the new policy, his life very
well may have been saved.

Write to Rhea Wessel at rhea.wessel@dowjones.com

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo@bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime@bbs.thing.net