RAC members hand out pamphlets at Sydney Airport
The following story was released yesterday to the press by the Refugee Action Coalition but appears to have been ignored. It is published here as forwarded from Ian Rintoul with some minor editing. Urban Wronski.
The story has been published online by the Green Left Weekly
December 20, 2014
Last Friday, the pilot of an Air China flight carrying a Chinese asylum seeker made a last minute decision to abandon the take off and returned to the terminal to unload the asylum seeker after he staged a dramatic on-board protest.
Wei Lin, a Chinese asylum seeker, was taken directly from the Federal Court to the airport, under escort of four Serco guards, following failed last minute legal action to prevent his deportation.
Around 6pm, refugee activists went to Sydney airport to distribute leaflets to passengers on the Air China flight to raise awareness of the Wei’s deportation and to request their support to prevent the forced deportation
At the airport he was tightly handcuffed and a mask placed over his head. Wei was placed between two Serco guards of the last row of seats on the plane.
Around 9.00pm, with around 80 per cent of passengers boarded, Wei was able to move to the front of the plane and address the passengers after being escorted to the toilet.
Wei showed passengers that he was cuffed and said, “I am a political asylum seeker. The Australian Immigration Department forced me to come the airport & board on the airplane against my will…”
The plane had begun to move to taxi to the runway, but after about 20 minutes the pilot announced that the incident was ‘unresolved’, and the plane would return to the terminal.
Some passengers, both Chinese and Australian, clapped for Wei as he was taken from the aircraft at 9.50pm. He was subsequently returned to the high security section of the Villawood detention centre.
Wei is a professional athlete who has been harassed in China because of his knowledge of the use of performance enhancing drugs in Chinese sport. He first made a protection application in late 2007.
“We are again calling on the Minister to halt attempts to deport Wei, and to halt all deportations to danger,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. “We are also calling on the airlines to refuse to carry forced deportations. By co-operating with the government, airline such as China Air become complicit in the government’s abuse of asylum seekers’ human rights.”
For more information contact Ian Rintoul mob 0417 275 713
Another account of the event by Steph O’Donnell appears below
Seven passengers stood up on an Air China flight to stop a Chinese asylum seeker being deported late last Friday night. Wei Lin, a 33 year old Chinese asylum seeker was escorted by four Serco guards; was tightly handcuffed and had a mask placed over his mouth, but he able to get to the front of the plane after asking to go to the toilet, as passengers were boarding.
Wei was able to hold his shackled wrists to show the passengers and said, “I am a political asylum seeker. The Australian Immigration Department forced me to come to the airport & board on the airplane against my will…,” before he was roughly pushed back to his seat. The red welts left by the handcuffs were still obvious on Wei’s wrists yesterday (Sunday) at Villawood detention centre.
Steph O’Donnell, a passenger on the plane, in transit to London, was among seven passengers who refused to take their seats as the pilot taxied the plane onto the runway following an on-board protest and appeal for help by Wei Lin, the Chinese asylum seeker, on board the flight. Steph contacted the Refugee Action Coalition on Sunday from London explaining the action of the passengers – her account can be read below. She is available for interview by arrangement.
After passengers maintained their protest, the pilot the take-off was abandoned and the plane returned to the terminal gate while Wei and his four guards left the plane. Wei was confronted on the plane and at the gate by people assumed to be Chinese air marshals. The passengers’ action came after activists from the Refugee Action Coalition distributed leaflets, in English and Chinese, at the check-in counter explaining how passengers could help stop forced deportations by ‘standing up for asylum seekers’.
“The passengers protest has shown how ordinary people can make a difference in the face of the government’s cruel treatment of asylum seekers. “Action by passengers has been known on European deportation flights, and we have previously leafleted airports, but this has taken action to stop forced removals to a new level,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“There is a growing awareness of the injustice meted out to asylum seekers, and every reason to expect more protests on the planes. There are too many asylum seekers deported to danger. The airline companies should refuse to co-operate with forced removals. “The new Immigration Minister should call a halt to the government’s forced deportation regime.” For more information, and to arrange an interview with Steph O’Donnell, contact Ian Rintoul mob 0417 275 713
From Steph O’Donnell to RAC Facebook page (21 Dec 2014) :