The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Riot among African deportees

Mar 3, 2008

The following article is from the January 28 issue of Le Pouvoir aux Travailleurs, published by the African Union of Internationalist Communist Workers.

A South African plane transporting 85 Malians deported from Mozambique landed in Bamako, Mali on January 15. During the flight, the deportees had violent confrontations with the South African police who guarded them. There was considerable damage inside the plane.

The deported workers’ anger exploded because of the way the police treated them. The cops took away the deportees’ possessions. Then the cops tied them up. One of the deportees explained:“Each of us wore an electrified belt and each time that we asked for a little money, a policeman activated the belts.” Another deportee from Mali told what they suffered before they were deported:“I left six months ago for Maputo, Mozambique ... I found work in the mines in Mafufu. When the Mafufu deposit was exhausted, I went to the Zimbabwean border... there were 230 foreigners arrested including 80 Malians. The rest were Guineans and Senegalese. Police and soldiers came to arrest us at 1:00 a.m. in our bedrooms. They opened fire, killing one guy. They beat us and used electric stun guns on us! Anything we had (telephones, diamonds, money) was seized. We were brought to the prison of Sounboye where we stayed 11 days. Afterwards, they led us to Maputo... We spent four days on a military base. There, the Mali ambassador to South Africa promised to come to see us and indicated that we could get back our money and precious stones. But he preferred to stop coming. Isn’t that contemptible? He killed us.”

All the Mali authorities say is that workers from Mali had been accused of working in diamond mines where no foreigners are allowed. Not a word about the horrible treatment inflicted on those Malians who were deported.

This isn’t the first time that a riot has broken out in a plane transporting deportees. The same thing happened on an Air France jet in 2000 that landed in Bamako, the capital of Mali.

Perhaps when the airlines suffer damage to their planes, they will think twice about allowing governments to use them to deport workers, especially when they are guarded by brutal cops.