Screenshot of a video posted on YouTube. Two police officers are shown pinning down an undocumented Tunisian migrant who refused to stay on the plane that was supposed to take him back to Tunisia.
A video of French police attempting to force an undocumented migrant to board a plane from France to Tunisia last weekend has caused outrage on the Internet. The man who filmed the footage says he was shocked by the inhumane treatment suffered by his compatriot.
On Saturday November 10, the passengers of the 11:50am flight TU 751 from Lyon to Tunis witnessed a disturbing scene soon after boarding the aircraft. A Tunisian man was pinned faced down on the ground by two border police officers. The man, who refused to board the plane, screamed while passengers begged the police officers to release him, condemning them for treating the man brutally.
An extract of the original video. The faces of the border police officers have been blurred.
According to the passenger who took the video and posted it on YouTube, the Tunisian was pinned to the ground for about 15 minutes before being finally taken off the plane.
The man, named Aymen, had been detained for 45 days – which is the maximum detention period allowed – at the airport’s detention centre before being put on the plane for Tunis. The Rhône regional police told FRANCE 24 that he had been ordered to leave France by the nearby Isère regional police, and that the undocumented migrant refused to board the plane and became aggressive, even insulting the police officers.
After this incident, he was detained and tried by a court in Lyon. On November 13, he was sentenced to 10 months in a French jail, and banned from France for three years once he completes his sentence.
“For France, a country that prides itself for its defence of human rights, it’s a real disgrace to treat a human being like this”
Tounsihor [not his real name] is Franco-Tunisian. He was returning to Tunisia for a week of holidays. He filmed the videos of the incident and posted them on YouTube.
The flight was already two hours late. I noticed that a few people had boarded the plane before the rest of us. Once we boarded the plane, we heard cries and the sound of people fighting. I thought: ‘This is insane. We’ve just waited for two hours, and now there are people fighting – are they trying to delay us even more?’I went closer and saw two men, one of them quite big and wearing an orange T-shirt, holding down a man who was shouting and seemed to be in a lot of pain. The two of them held down his arms and legs. It was unbelievable, watching them act so violently.Then, as you can see in the video, a passenger in an Adidas sweatshirt approached the police officers and asked them to release the man. He also told the undocumented migrant to calm down and to be careful of what he said and did, because he risked being accused of insulting the police and thus worsening his situation.I learned afterwards that the man in the Adidas sweatshirt actually knew the man being held down. The reason the undocumented migrant had been pinned to the ground was because he had recognised this man and got up to move towards him.“If a Tunisian policeman did that to a Frenchman, it would have sparked a diplomatic spat!”The elderly people around me were shocked. There were also children who asked what was going on. I saw flight attendants and other flight crew with tears in their eyes. We were deeply shocked by the way this person was being treated. If a Tunisian policeman did that to a Frenchman, it would have sparked a diplomatic spat! True, I didn’t see the officers throw any punches. But I believe there are other ways to treat a human being, especially in public, like on a tourist flight.At one point, the two men asked me to stop filming. But I refused. I have every right to do so, and I didn’t do it to be famous. As I said on the video, for France, a country that prides itself for its defence of human rights, it’s a real disgrace to treat a human being like this.