Pilot refuses to deport Egyptian asylum seeker

Villawood detention centre where Tarek is being held.

The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on July 6.

***

The pilot of an Etihad airliner at Sydney thwarted government attempts to deport an Egyptian asylum seeker on July 5, when the pilot asked for the protesting asylum seeker to be taken off the plane.

Urgent attempts are now being made to get a stay on his removal because of the military coup in Egypt, and the changed political situation there.

The Egyptian man, Tarek, had originally been scheduled to be removed on July 3. On Friday morning he was surrounded by six or seven Serco guards and two immigration officers. He was handcuffed and later put on a plane at Sydney airport due to depart at 2.30pm.

After being placed on the plane, Tarek protested loudly, asking other passengers for help and asking to speak to the pilot.

Serco guards tried to silence Tarek, by forcing his head between his knees – a dangerous manoeuvre known to have led to position asphyxia in deportation cases overseas. Eventually the pilot came and asked the Serco guards to take Tarek off the plane saying that the issue would have to be resolved "off the plane".

Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, said: “We are urgently requesting the government to halt his deportation and allow him to make another protection application. The situation is too dangerous in Egypt for the government to keep pushing to remove Tarek’s. This should have been obvious days ago.

“Tarek has already said he had fears of being harmed by the army if he was returned. Now they are the only power in Egypt, and have suspended the constitution."

Tarek has now been isolated in Villawood detention centre in fear that the government will make another attempt to deport him.

Rintoul said: “We believe Tarek has good grounds for being allowed to make another protection application and any attempt to remove him should stop immediately."

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