Nigerian woman killed by Belgian police in deportation
Semira Adamu was 20 years old
SEMIRA ADAMU died on Tuesday, September 22nd 1998
at about 9 p.m. at St. Luc Clinic in Brussels. She had been a coma for
several hours following an attempt to deport her by force by the Belgian
police acting under the orders of the Immigration Office ("Office des Etrangers").
She was 20 years old... She had fled from Nigeria because her family were
trying to force her to marry a 65-year old polygamist. She would have been
his fourth wife. She had repeatedly sought refuge in Togo but had been
brought back to Nigeria each time. Then, on March 25th 1998, with the help
of some friends, she arrived in Belgium. She was immediately refused access
to Belgian soil. All she ever knew of Belgium was the airport and a detention
centre for "illegal foreigners", situated at 127 bis de Steenokkerzeel.
This was the sixth time that the Belgian authorities had tried to deport
her. The reason for the refusal to allow her to enter Belgium is that (wait
for it...) the Geneva Convention does not say anything specific about cases
of ill-treatment of women ...
Web site of Semira Adamu:
Web site of "Alternative Libertaire" :
Web site of the Brussels Anti-Deportation Collective (Collectif Bruxellois
Contre Les Expulsions):
Crime of State: Semira Adamu died tonight in Brussels
(September 22nd 1998, 11.46 p.m.)
SEMIRA ADAMU DIED TONIGHT IN BRUSSELS
FOLLOWING A STRONG-ARM ATTEMPT TO DEPORT HER
BY THE BELGIAN POLICE...
Semira Adamu died tonight at about 9 p.m. in the St-Luc clinic.
She had been in a coma for several hours following a forceful deportation
attempt by the police acting under the orders of the Belgian Immigration
Office ("Office des Etrangers").
Semira Adamu was 20 years old... She had fled from Nigeria
because her family were trying to force her to marry a 65 year old polygamist.
She would have been his 4th wife. She had repeatedly sought refuge in neighbouring
Togo, but each time she had been brought back to Nigeria. On March 25th,
with the help of some friends, she arrived in Belgium. She was immediately
refused the right to enter the country. All she ever knew of Belgium was
the airport and a detention centre for "illegal foreigners", situated at
127 bis de Steenokkerzeel. This was the sixth time that the Belgian authorities
had tried to deport her. The reason for the refusal to allow her to enter
Belgium is that (wait for it...) the Geneva Convention does not say anything
specific about cases of ill-treatment of women ...
Tonight a delegation of the Anti-Deportation Collective went
to the home of Louis Tobback, Minister of the Interior, to demand his resignation.
Keep yourself informed - send messages of support to
2-4 avenue de la Porte de Hal
Tel: 02/420.77.95. or 02/544.18.18
web site http://users.skynet.be/AL/
Questions concerning the death of Semira Adamu
(September 23rd, 1998, 6.26 p.m.)
MAILING LIST - ALTERNATIVE LIBERTAIRE
Collectif Contre les Expulsions (Anti-Deportation Collective)
Press Release 23-09-98
Sémira Adamu died on Tuesday night
Semira Adamu breathed her last this Tuesday night at about 9 p.m..
She had been in a deep coma since 11 a.m. following a cerebral haemorrhage
caused when Belgian police attempted for the sixth time to deport her...
Her death raises a number of questions...
Before embarking on the plane:
In the aircraft:
What happened between the time she was woken up at detention centre 127bis
and the time she was placed on board the aircraft:
Had she received blows, threats, etc. ?
Had she (as is sometimes the case) been forced to swallow medication? Were
the drugs concerned counter-indicated in her case?
At the pilots' office: when Semira told us of the threats against her (Monday),
we immediately sent a fax to the pilot of the flight for Lomé (Togo).
This fax explained the violence that might occur on the flight and asked
him not to allow Semira on board. What happened to our fax? Was it even
transmitted to the pilot? Was it intercepted by a superior? If not, why
was it not taken into consideration?
At the hospital :
What really happened inside the plane?
Semira was in excellent health and was considered "morally strong" enough
to withstand deportation. The prosecutor's office confirmed the use of
a cushion, but what really happened in the plane?
A cardiac arrest and a cerebral haemorrhage do not occur spontaneously
in a 20-year old without a cause...
As for the video filmed by the police, we must not be fooled. The cameraman
was able to film what he wanted. The subjectivity of a videotape renders
it unsatisfactory as evidence in our eyes.
We also note the flagrant contradiction between the declaration of the
deputy Crown Prosecutor, who says in effect: "The normal procedure
in the plane is to place a cushion over the mouth of the deportee (...)
We do it all the time", and the repeated declarations of the chairman of
the Sabena airline company, insisting that "I can assure you that our security
staff scrupulously observes the rules of human rights (...) All forms of
resistance must be condemned".
Why did the pilot accept to take a person in handcuffs on board the plane,
when aircraft safety regulations prohibit it?
Several disturbing facts occurred at the hospital.
We want answers to all these questions. For that to happen, the case must
not be covered up by a version that says nothing of the exactions of the
police against Semira on board the plane. We demand to know everything
about this deportation that ended in coma and death.
Why did the doctors insist that someone see her to testify that she had
not been the victim of violence?
A visual examination is not sufficient to identify the causes of cardiac
arrest and internal haemorrhage.
Why did the doctors at the press conference insist so emphatically on the
normal nature of a cardiac arrest and internal haemorrhage for a person
Why did they not mention the handcuff marks on her wrists?
Why are they so determined to convince us that her death is an accident
when the results of the examinations are not yet known?
Why are they so against an independent autopsy and counter-examination?
That is why we appeal for eye-witness accounts by passengers, a second
medical opinion and an independent autopsy in order to discover what happened.
What we are faced with here is not an isolated blunder but a shameful
daily practice, which, in the case of Semira, turns out to be an unpleasant
consequence of the threats against her since her arrival in Belgium. We
therefore demand a trial to judge the perpetrators of this "assassination",
at all levels of responsibility. In our opinion, these responsibilities
lie with the chief officer of those who physically carried out this policy
of terror (the police), those who collaborated with it (Sabena airlines),
and, in particular, those who decided it (the Minister of the Interior
and the Immigration Office).
The tragic death of Semira banishes all doubt that anyone could still
express regarding the inhumanity of the deportation policy.
We therefore call for the immediate resignation of the Minister
of the Interior (Louis Tobback) and of the Director of the Immigration
Office (Mr. Schewebach).
Collectif Contre les Expulsions
2-4 avenue de la Porte de Hal
Tel: (+32) 2420.77.95. or (+32) 2544.18.18
Fax: (+32) 2779.59.00
A PRESENTATION OF THE ANTI-DEPORTATION COLLECTIVE IS ON PAGE
"ALTERNATIVE LIBERTAIRE" web site:
Appeal by the Sans-Papiers of France (September 23rd
Press release of the Sans-Papiers Collectives for the
When the State Kills
It is with stupefaction that we learned today of the death of Ms Semira
Adamo, of Nigerian nationality, following ill-treatment at the hands of
the Belgian policemen entrusted with the task of deporting her. She was
aged 20 and had asked for political asylum in Belgium out of fear of being
the victim of retrograde practices common in her own country (forced marriage,
Paris Area (Ile de France)
After rejecting her demand, the Belgian administration tried to deport
her six times. Semira Adamo died today, a victim of this senseless and
criminal ferocity. Her death is unacceptable. A young woman of 20 years
old has been harassed, terrorised and pursued by the Belgian police until
What has just happened in Belgium could happen at any time in France,
Germany or any other country of Fortress Europe, where repressive anti-immigrant
laws are currently being harmonised and unspeakable methods are becoming
common practice. Men, women and children are being harassed, tracked
down like beasts and deported against a background of almost universal
indifference. Do we have to wait for deaths to reach double figures before
we react? In France, the case of a Sri-Lankan who died in 1991 following
an excessively forceful deportation is still under examination.
If we have arrived today at a situation where a foreign woman has been
murdered under such conditions, it is because numerous exactions are committed
every day by the police in police stations, detention centres, transit
zones and even inside the aircraft. Under the pretext of enforcing firm
immigration policy and securing Europe's external borders, all abuses of
power are permitted by the police forces and administrations of the countries
We protest with all our strength against these policies, which can only
generate and encourage these barbaric acts. We also denounce the airline
companies that render themselves accomplices to these policies by accepting
to transport "illegal" or merely paperless foreigners deported under these
conditions. The closed border policy is incompatible with respect for human
We must all react together before it is too late.
To register our indignation, we are organising a protest rally in front
of the Belgian embassy in Paris, 9 rue de Tilsitt, 75017 Paris (Charles
de Gaulle-Etoile Metro station).
Friday, September 25th 1998, from noon to 2 p.m.
Please send protest faxes to the Belgian embassy in your country (France:
01 47 54 07 64)
and to the SABENA airline company (France: 01 45 88 49 73).
Contact : Collectif des sans-papiers du Val de Marne.
Phone: (+33) 1498 03179 ; Fax : (+33) 1437 72512 ;
Mobiles: (+33) 6856 14105 and (+33) 6852 805 48.
September 26th 1998: Several demonstrations in memory of Semira Adamu have been held in Belgium and France
Latest from Roger.Noel (summary, not direct translation)
On Thursday, for example, more than 2000 people demonstrated in front of
the Immigration Office in Brussels. Although Interior Minister Tobbak
has now resigned, the protest movement is continuing, with the
determination not to let the government and political parties treat one
politician and a few policemen as scapegoats for a generalised policy,
shared by "left" and "right".
Also on Thursday (24 Sept) the Belgian tourist office in Paris was
occupied by about 30 people from the "Collective for Freedom of
Movement", who left quietly after reading out a statement on Belgian TV
and receiving an appointment with the Belgian ambassador. The statement
insisted that Semira's death was not an isolated incident but the
inevitable result of European policies on immigration. It called for the
regularisation of all Sans-Papiers, and called on people to join the
More than 5000 people attended a memorial service for Semira Adamu in
St. Gudule cathedral in Brussels on Saturday (Sept 26). Politicians were
barred from entry.
On Friday evening (Sept 25), fearing a violent demonstration at the
detention centre where Semira was held before her death and where the
inmates were on hunger strike, the Belgian police quite simply evacuated
the centre. The Ministry of the Interior had visions of "demonstrators
armed with knives and wire-cutters (...) with the firm intention of
breaking everything and setting everyone free", and so has decided to
release a large number themselves. The Anti-Deportation Collective is
looking after the 45 released detainees, who officially now have 5 days
to leave Belgium under their own steam. 25 other refugees "who have
committed serious offences" have been taken to other detention centres,
where they are continuing their hunger strike in solidarity with Semira.