AFTER BOARDING a Lithuania Airlines aircraft to photograph celebrations marking the country's entry into the European Union (EU), I was absolutely appalled to find three Lithuanian women being deported in shackles. With them were three terrified unaccompanied children. British immigration officials had one child in a neck lock, and one woman in an arm lock-all were screaming in fear and pain.
Following strong objections raised to the treatment of these women and children, the immigration officials were forced to abandon the planned deportation. Cabin staff and passengers alike witnessed the degrading and humiliating scene of the women being dragged the full length of the cabin. One of these women was dressed only in her underwear.
One of the immigration officials even had the nerve to berate me for "interfering in government business". Presumably they thought they'd add insult to obvious injury and public humiliation by deporting these poor people a mere 48 hours before Lithuania became a full member of the EU, at which point these women and children would have been entitled to the full rights accorded to EU citizens.
Apart from the utterly disgraceful abuse of their human rights, what kind of immigration policy purporting to adhere to even basic humanitarian principles can treat people in this way?
Free movement in a newly enlarged EU will be only for capital and the bosses-the rest of us will suffer the social and economic consequences. The government immigration policy and the gutter press have created an atmosphere in our society that says forced deportation is acceptable and necessary.
I challenge any decent human being to witness these people's trauma and not start to question the criminalisation of people simply wanting a better life.