100 signatures reached
To: Australian Airlines
Don't Deport Refugees and Asylum Seekers to Danger
We the undersigned call on all Australian airlines to agree that they:
• Will not carry out forced deportations of asylum seekers back to possible danger
• Will not take disciplinary action against any airline pilot who independently decides not to fly a plane with a forced deportee on board
Why is this important?
Australia continues to forcibly deport asylum seekers back to places such as Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Afghanistan where they face imprisonment, torture and death. Article 33 of the UN Refugee Convention, to which Australia is a signatory, states “No Contracting State shall expel or return ('refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his [sic] life or freedom would be threatened on account of his [sic] race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
Thousands of asylum seekers in Australia are at risk of deportation particularly because the Coalition government changed asylum assessment processes and abolished the Refugee Review Tribunal.
An investigation by the Edmund Rice Centre in 2011 found that of 179 refugees who were forcibly returned to Afghanistan 20 had been confirmed killed and dozens more had disappeared. An update of the report in July 2017 concludes “it would be impossible for Australian, European and other governments to guarantee the safety of Afghan returnees in this period of instability”.
Deportation itself is a brutal process often involving physical or chemical restraint. It breaches Australia’s obligations under international law. People deported by Australia have been bound and gagged. Deportations sometimes occur in the middle of the night with little to no warning for the person being deported.
In 2010 Jimmy Mubenga, was suffocated to death while being restrained on a British Airways flight during deportation by the UK government.
Deportation invariably puts passenger safety at risk because asylum seekers will often rightfully resist the process. Abdlmoneim Khogali, a Sudanese asylum seeker handcuffed to a passenger seat ripped the seat from its floor mountings in an attempt to avoid deportation from Australia. He was then beaten by guards in front of passengers. Several attempts were made to inject him with tranquilliser, the needle missed and bent into the seat. He was eventually injected with that same bent and contaminated needle, and bears scars from it. Deportation is self-evidently harmful for asylum seekers and can also be traumatic for airline staff and passengers. Airlines are not legally required to carry out forced deportations.
In Germany pilots refused to carry out deportations 222 times between January and September 2017. Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty told the Westdeutsche Allegeimeine Zeitung newspaper that pilots were able to make such decisions if they thought that flight safety could be affected.
Deportations are happening here in Australia quite frequently. Just weeks ago a Tamil family from Biloela in Queensland were ripped from their beds in the middle of the night. Priya, Nades and their two young girls now face imminent deportation from MITA detention centre in Melbourne. We know that Tamils face torture and even death upon their return to Sri Lanka.
This petition has been endorsed by:
- Dr Gillian Triggs
- Julian Burnside
- People Just Like Us
- The Edmund Rice Centre