Through the magic of poor research by elementary textbook authors and a marketing/public-relations campaign that included the export of copious amounts of Swiss chocolate and cheese, the entire world skates along on the notion that the Swiss are neutral because they are just so danged nice, and they happen to inhabit an impassable mountain range that no other country really wants.
It is true the Swiss are very nice, but it is not true no one else wanted their territory. France, Germany, Austria/Hungary, everybody has tried to take a bite out of Switzerland. They probably could smell the chocolate. They were all, however, ably rebuffed by the people who were in the middle-ages renowned for being a “warrior nation.”
Not much has changed with Switzerland’s national character since then. It’s not an accident that the Pope is still guarded by the Swiss. They are a precise no-nonsense lot, and if you don’t think so, talk to Geordry
Geordry, a Cameroon refugee who overstayed his welcome, was summarily diapered, handcuffed, helmeted, and tied inside a special flight taking him home to whatever uncertain future awaited him back in the country being run by the man who was Geordry’s assassinated father’s political opponent.
Of course, you cannot talk to Geordry any more. He’s been swallowed up inside one of Cameroon’s prisons that is allegedly notorious for torture. (Note: I am awaiting a response on Geordry’s current status).*
The Swiss government does not speak specifically about Geordry, but it doesn’t deny it orchestrates forced deportations. In September 2011, Swiss Minister of Justice and Police Simonetta Sommaruga explained its deportation procedures that are alleged to have played a role in three deportee deaths to date, including one that occurred on an airport tarmac.
Sommaruga is quick to point out that Switzerland does not drug its detainees to subdue them, and it now allows impartial observers to monitor the practice. She says Switzerland gives illegal residents ample opportunity to depart voluntarily in the form of the usual administrative reminders, a free flight out of the country, and that the incarcerated deportees can leave the facility with police escort to depart the country any time they choose. The implication is that the manacled and diapered deportees are those who physically resist boarding the airplane.
Sommaruga emphasizes that the forced evictions are a last resort and the only way the country can preserve the integrity of its refugee system.
Why am I writing about this now? I just realized I’m an idiot to have paid for our return tickets out of Switzerland. They would have flown me home for nothing – although, I’d be risking the diaper-and-handcuff special. Dave thinks we shouldn’t chance it, but it would certainly liven up this blog.
Learn more about Switzerland’s deportation facilities and procedures here.
An unconfirmed annual estimate on the cost of deportation is at almost 2-million Swiss Francs. Detainees can be held on administrative detention for 18 months without a hearing. Switzerland’s deportee legislation won widespread support in a 1994 referendum.