End racial profiling and passenger harassment at Frankfurt Airport

End racial profiling and passenger harassment at Frankfurt Airport

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Christopher Greenwood started this petition to Frankfurt Airport

For many, an airport is a place of transit but for others, it is a place of trauma.

I’m Christopher Greenwood.

I was travelling with the globally recognised humanitarian and philanthropist Mohanji and I saw utter disrespect and harassment by the security guards and police officers at Frankfurt Airport. I witnessed it and I was shocked to see how they treated him.

It amounted to racial profiling, and I’ve since learnt that there were many more incidents of passenger harassment that have happened at Frankfurt Airport.

In our situation, we were transiting through the airport which meant we were not entering the country. (I share more details of the incident below).

The whole event provoked me to give a voice to people who have not articulated their experiences and to call for a change in how Frankfurt Airport handles and treats passengers. 

People deserve a much better travel experience, especially in this time of COVID when everything is already restricted and travel is very uncomfortable. Whatever we can do to improve the standards in any way we must. 

We have created this petition to make a deep change in the system, where people are respected irrespective of colour, nationality or culture.


Humane Airports

This petition forms part of a larger campaign, Humane Airports, which was started from this terrible incident at Frankfurt Airport. We are a group of like-minded people who want to make a positive difference in the world and restore the basic human ethics to airport travel - http://humaneairports.com

You can follow the progress of the campaign, contribute and support via our social media channels:

https://twitter.com/humaneairports

https://www.instagram.com/humaneairports/

https://www.facebook.com/HumaneAirports/

 

The Incident 

On a recent transit through Frankfurt Aiport, I was shocked to witness the reality of racial profiling and harassment at the hands of the police assault officers and security guards.

I was travelling with Mohanji, who is a world-respected humanitarian. He passed through the security check lane as a business class passenger, and I passed through the economy security check lane. 

When I cleared security, I looked up to see that assault police officers and security guards had surrounded Mohanji. As I got closer, the security guard was ransacking his bag indiscriminately under the pretext of searching for “explosives”, and items were being thrown into nearby trays as if they belonged to a trash can.  

His large wallet that contains, cards, currency and many personal items were being emptied section by section. He watched in bewilderment as pictures of his wife, family and saints such as Sai Baba were tossed into the trays. As I looked closer, I could see that Mohanji had followed all required security guidelines. His laptop, charging cables, hard drives and other electronic items as well as his jacket had been placed in separate trays as per the norm well before this ordeal.

I could also see that Mohanji had nothing on his person. Even though the advanced body scanning technology and x-ray equipment did not identify anything, he was subjected to additional frisking, questioning and harassment. At no point in time did they ask Mohanji who he was or the purpose of his transit.  

Mohanji also had a steel water bottle that he carries to keep hydrated, especially on long haul flights, as dehydration is part of his medical condition. Plus, he does not like to purchase plastic bottles because of their impact on the environment. As a last display of contempt, the security guard instructed another guard to throw away the water bottle without allowing any opportunity to discuss the reason for carrying the bottle. Even the other security guard looked confused as it was empty yet, he was instructed to throw it in the bin. 

This ordeal created a scene that drew attention from other passengers making their way through the security check area. It was sheer humiliation that lasted for about 45 minutes, and during that time, nobody else passing through the business class lane was pulled aside for additional checks.

Mohanji was cooperating entirely with the security guards and police’s questions and checks, yet no one took responsibility for the disrespectful treatment or even acknowledged the disruption it had caused. In fact, we needed another further 20-30 minutes to repack the bag to ensure nothing was missing.

 

Not An Isolated Case

I have travelled extensively, and I’ve never witnessed or experienced a security check like this before. The sheer contempt was tangible, and given there was nothing on Mohanji’s person or in his bag to warrant such treatment, it amounts to racial profiling and harassment.

Unfortunately, I’ve since understood this is not an isolated case at Frankfurt Airport, especially for those of different skin colour. Numerous incidents and news articles of harassment exist on the internet. Many people have suffered abuse, harassment and humiliation under the pretext of “security checks” at this airport. 

Response from Frankfurt Airport 

I have contacted all the appropriate authorities, including Frankfurt Airport. The response was a polite acknowledgement that condemed any form of harassment and they deferred the responsibility to the police force who is the airport’s agency for security checks.

We want Frankfurt Airport to address this issue as they are responsible for ensuring all agencies in their airport conform to the norms and ethical treatment of passengers and respectful behaviour.

N.B. I have lodged a formal complaint with the police, and we are awaiting the official results of their investigations.

 

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