Lufthansa and subsidiaries have carried out every fourth deportation so far. A “Lufthansa deportation-free” campaign is starting this week.

So far, Lufthansa has carried out a quarter of all deportations Foto: Bayne Stanley/dpa

BERLIN taz | The Lufthansa #Abschiebefrei – #SayNoToDeportations campaign started on Monday with a Twitter storm. More than 20 civil society initiatives and organizations, including the refugee councils from Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt and Hamburg, are calling on Lufthansa to stop deporting its aircraft. “Lufthansa must finally stop transporting people against their will and take a clear stand against racism,” says Nadija Martin of the No Border Assembly group that initiated the campaign.

22,097 people were deported from Germany in 2019, including 3,806 minors. At 5,885, more than 25 percent of the deportations are on Lufthansa and its subsidiaries. “As part of its restart after the corona break, Lufthansa has the choice: to make serious about taking on global social responsibility or to continue to send people into misery,” Martin told taz.

Not every airline carries out deportation flights. The British airline Virgin Atlantic has been refusing to sell tickets for deportations from the UK and Australia since 2018. In 2019, six U.S. airlines, including United, Delta and American Airlines, declared that they would no longer carry children who were separated from their families at the U.S. borders.

According to Section 12 of the Aviation Security Act, pilots are allowed to take the necessary measures to avert an existing danger for people on board the aircraft or for the aircraft itself. Lufthansa Group pilots exercised this right in 309 cases in 2019, refusing to transport deportees. This results in a small request from the left in the Bundestag.

More violence in deportations

The request from the left also makes it clear that the use of “physical violence aids” increased massively in 2019 compared to the previous year. In 1,764 cases, police officers used hand and ankle cuffs, steel cuffs or so-called body cuffs to enforce deportations against the will of asylum seekers – compared to 1,231 cases in 2018 and 135 in 2015. “This brutalization of the deportation policy is worrying and must be stopped as soon as possible, ”demands the political spokeswoman for the group, Ulla Jelpke, and is thus responding to the Federal Government’s response.

As their answer shows, not only the use of restraint means, but also the number of accompanying police officers has increased significantly. While 8,100 civil servants were still deployed to provide “security escort” in 2017, the figure was 14,074 in 2019. At the same time, the total number of deportations accompanied decreased slightly. “Similar to the increased use of restraints, this is also an indication that certain deportations are being enforced with increasingly ruthless violence,” Jelpke fears.

Contrary to the accusations of the federal police, the pilot association Cockpit last stood behind flight captains in 2019 who prevent deportations of rejected asylum seekers. One is convinced that a transport would only be refused if there were any signs of a threat to the safety of the flight or other passengers, Cockpit told the editorial network Germany. Lufthansa declares to taz that deportations against the will of those affected are fundamentally rejected. You don’t comment on individual campaigns. Meanwhile, the initiating group No Border Assembly is happy about the success of the Twitter storm. “Many users have already picked up on our hashtags #Schiebefrei and #SayNoToDeportations,” explains spokeswoman Martin.