Last Saturday, July the 15th, at 16:25 PM a flight from Barcelona to Dakar (Senegal), Vueling VY7888, was about to take flight. The take-off was delayed, and then, desperate screams from a person in the back of the plane were heard. The crew answered nothing when asked about those screams. Passengers get up , and tens of people start demanding information.
Among the passengers, it is said that it could be a person being deported to Senegal, and that it could be held on the last seats of the plane, handcuffed and escorted by two men. Several passengers require the airline company to confirm this information that was never reported during the purchase of the ticket. These people oppose to travelling with a person with a situation of extreme anguish, and with a clear violation of basic human rights. Soon after that, sobbing and nervous, that person said: «I am not coming back. Je suis malade (I’m ill)».
The aisle is still full of passengers that debate about the situation and keep questioning the crew. The flight doesn’t take-off, and neither commander nor crew make any announcement. There’s even more. When a passenger asks why the flight is being delayed, a member of the crew states that there is a problem with the baggage. Later on, it is stated that there has been a problem with the baggage weight, and that some luggage had not been carried into the plane, causing the delay.
Despite the questioning to the crew, there is not an official statement through PA. 90 minutes later, with the aisle still full of people, a first message is deployed from the cabin crew. The passengers are required to sit down, so that the deported person can be carried out of the plane. Passengers start celebrating, and then they are notified that all passage will be required to leave the plane. That is the only official communication received by Vueling.
When we were disembarking, on the plane’s gates six passengers are randomly chosen and are detained. The rest of the passage gets out of the plane, and are informed that they will fly later on with a different crew. The six people being detained are identified, and we demand an explanation about what was happening, and the criteria used to choose us. We are told that we will not be able to fly to Dakar, and that a shuttle will take us to claim our luggage. No one explains us the reason why he have been chosen, and not the tens of other passengers that were in the aisle from the beginning. On the moment of being detained, we see two passengers pointing at us to be detained.
After that, the embarking of the rest of the passage is carried out, and before getting into the plane, five other people are randomly detained. The same procedure is taken as with the first six identified people. Finally, the flight takes off with eleven people on land, without any communication from Vueling about the issue. According to passengers on the second flight, the deported person was still sobbing and anxiously screaming.
The eleven passengers here today, gathered for the first time yesterday. We did not know each other, and we did not start a riot on the plane. The only thing that happened was that a man started screaming, and a lot of people rose into the aisle asking what was going on, and debating. Vueling did not announce anything through the crew until they required us to disembark. We were banned from the flight arbitrarily. There were people debating against the deportation that were not banned from the flight. People that voiced no opinion are here today with us. No one has given us an explanation about the reason or criteria why we have been banned. Also, Vueling has not stated anywhere that their customers could fly with people being deported against their will, escorted and desperately screaming.
Some of us among here today have heard about this type of deportations. Others, through what happened Saturday, have realized the sad truth about the deportation of people on commercial flights. The events on this plane have created a contact with organizations that have been denouncing these practices for many years. Through these organizations, we can know today that several people have died on this kind of flights: after being gagged (Osamuyi Aikpitanyi-9/6/2009), for not being able to breathe (Jimmy Mubenga), asfixiated with a pillow to stop the screams (Semira Adamu-1998), after being bound with more tan 10 metres of adhesive tape (Marcus Omofuma-25/5/1999), on a precarious health state and without any medical assistance (Joseph Ndukaku-marzo de 2010), or cardiorespiratory arrest after being carried into the plane with a helmet, and bound by hands and feet, and kept from medical reanimation (Aamir Mohamed Ageeb).
Many collectives denounce the recurrence of these practices. La Campaña Estatal por el Cierre de los CIE y el Fin de las Deportaciones informs about an agreement signed worht 12 public million euro with
Air Europa (Grupo Globalia) and Swift Air during 2013 y 2016, and with Viajes Barceló and Air Nostrum (from Iberia group) currently. In fact, it is known that a deportation flight to Guinea Conarky will take place on the next 24th of July, taking off from Madrid and making a stop in Barcelona. We want to publicly warn and denounce these kind of deportations, as well as the treatment received by Vueling as passengers.
The events that happened on the 15th of July can never happen again. Against the screams of a handcuffed person with a bad health state, and his nervousness, we consider that any person with a glimpse of humanity should at least get up to see what is going on. This is what tens of people did. We are only eleven of them.