A Cameroonian man was wrapped in plastic wrap and placed on an airplane by Turkish officials who wanted to send him back to his homeland.
Emmanuel Chedjou was in Istanbul, Turkey, for eight-hour layover on Jan. 21 when he was approached by Turkish authorities who accused him of presenting a fake visa. Chedjou was on his way to Dubai for business and booked his trip through a fraudulent travel agency.
“I wanted to go to Dubai with my girlfriend to buy a shipment of shoes. I organized the entire trip through a travel agency,” he told France 24. “It was the first time I had organized such a trip and I only realized later that I had been scammed.”
Passport control took the couple into custody and prepared to deport them on Jan. 23. Chedjou protested the proceedings and told the officers he wanted to go to Dubai as planned. Instead, Chedjou claims, the officers hit him. He says he was told he would be taken to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, but that never happened.
Instead, he was taken to a detention center, where officers allegedly beat and threatened him over several days. On Jan. 28, they tried to put Chedjou on a Turkish Airlines flight to Yaoundé, Cameroon. After he resisted, the Turks bound his limbs and wrapped him in plastic wrapping typically reserved for suitcases. The officers placed tissue in his mouth and covered it with tape.
He was put in a wheelchair and taken to a plane headed for Yaoundé.
“’At that time, I really started to have trouble breathing,” he said. “Three of them put me in a wheelchair and took me on a plane that was leaving for Yaoundé. Inside they carried me like a package to my seat.”
Chedjou managed to spit out the tissue and called for help. He wasn’t freed until other passengers on the plane intervened. The fracas was filmed by Chedjou’s girlfriend.
“They are trying to kill me,” he yelled. At one point, a female passenger called the officials “evil.”
Chedjou said after the struggle with the officers they took 2400 in euros he intended to use in Dubai. One officer reportedly told the traumatized man “You’ve been lucky so far. We’re going to kill you.”
Chedjou ultimately deplaned before the flight departed and was sent to a detention center, where he said Black prisoners experienced harsher treatment than others did.
“They took the cellphones belonging to black people but not those belonging to white people,” he said. Chedjou also claimed Black prisoners were sequestered in a separate room.
His partner remained on the flight to Yaoundé. Following his eventual agreement to be deported, Chedjou was taken to Nigeria instead of Cameroon and didn’t make it back home until Feb. 4, two weeks after he landed in Turkey.
The videos generated international outrage after they were posted on social media. They received more than 100,000 views combined, as reported by The Sun.
“When Turkey deported those 11 French nationals with ties to ISIL, did they wrap them in cling film? How about when they deported those 3 Germans as well as those 7 Iraqis with terrorist ties?” tweeted one viewer. “[Were] they out of cling film or is the treatment only reserved for poor black nations.”
“This ill-humane treatment is not acceptable!” wrote another.
“This man could die from heat stroke, progressive difficulty breathing from failed lung expansion, he could get blood clots, pressure wounds. How about stool and urinary concerns,” said one man. “This is not just degrading, this could very well be attempted murder.”
The businessman suffered financially after his ordeal.
“Between the travel agency that scammed me and everything that happened in Istanbul, I lost about 7 million CFA francs, which is equivalent to €10,500,” he said.
“I didn’t just lose capital. I also lost credibility in my community. No one wants to do business with me. I want to speak out against Turkish Airlines and the officers who humiliated me. I want compensation for everything I went through and, if possible, I’m going to file a complaint.”
The Turkish Directorate General for Migration Management tweeted “such practices cannot be accepted at all” and vowed to investigate the incident.