11 September 2012

Deportation or how to police discrimination of people

Today is September 11 and I am taking two flights. I shouldn’t be anxious. I heard that the chances of having another terrorist attack on a plane on September 11 are slim. No one would want to confuse history that much. I never had a phobia of terrorism anyway even after 7 years of living in London and being bombarded with all sort of paranoid announcements on public transport.

Last time I was on a plane, I witnessed a deportation of a Sudanese man from London to Khartoum and I still can’t get over it.

The BMI staff were wearing dull and robotic faces that are supposed to give you confidence that this is just an everyday procedure and no one will be hurt in the process except of course the person who is being deported.

They warned us: “He’s an excitable chap. He will be shouting throughout take off. Please ignore him. Don’t worry he is not dangerous. He is strapped to his chair.” The captain, the staff and the four immigration police officers who were holding down the skinny man were very sneakily and successfully transforming him from a victim of discrimination into a security threat being dealt with in a professional manner. Passengers were even asking: “Are you sure he is not carrying a bomb?” The person who was being deported was no longer a Sudanese teenager who had chosen to live somewhere else and was being discriminated against and forcibly deported but is now an evil Muslim who might blow up at any second unless the white men are allowed to oppress the evil in him.

I heard stories about deportations being cancelled because passengers refused to fly on a plane during a deportation. I objected. I went to see him at the back of the plane and asked: "What is going on here? I do not want to travel on this plane under these circumstances."
The policeman tried to hide the Sudanese man behind him but I can see two of them holding his head back to his chair. He looked in pain and was shouting for help. The policeman stood between us and told me: “You will be fine madam. We are dealing with him. He won’t upset you.”

“You don’t understand. He is not upsetting me. You are upsetting me. You, treating the man like an animal and holding his head like this and forcing a deportation on a civilian flight is upsetting me. Deportations upset me.”

A BMI staff looked down at me and said: “If you don’t sit in your place, the flight will be delayed.”
I stared right back at her for what seemed a long time. She didn’t like it. She looked at the policeman for help, then asked me: “what?”
“Give me a moment, I am searching for your humanity.”

No one on the plane was bothered. I asked if this is how they treated British people in Sudan. Somebody answered that British people don’t live in places where they are unwanted to which I shouted back: “The British empire was built on British people being in places where they are unwanted you fascist pig.” Everyone on the plane hated me at that point. I cried myself to sleep. In my dream, the Sudanese man was whispering:

Deport me to a better and sunnier place
To a place that welcome you and all other white people
Deport me to your holiday destination
To your favourite sex tourism spot,
To your exotic food, your world music, your favourite kind of yoga
Deport me to where you stick out as the drunk sun burnt man in a football shirt
Deport me so I can transform your humiliation into a bed time story that my family will repeat generation after generation.

Later when I went to check on him and take this crappy picture, I noticed that he too had cried himself to sleep surrounded by a group of chatting and giggling policemen who looked nothing but a bunch of school bullies hired by a powerful governmental schoolmaster. 

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