Weaponised Exposure 6f - Surviving boats and lorries to be deported


Seen and Unseen: Deaths in boats and lorries

A group of young people stand in front of a church building. The central placard shows a depiction of the statue of liberty and reads 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to Breathe Free'.

[imagecaption] (From left) Chiara Pride, Jolie Nyamarembo, Sean Rivera, and Areline Serna hold up signs at the vigil for migrant deaths at San Fernando Cathedral, 2017. Photographer: Bonnie Arbittier for the Riverd Report. [/imagecaption]

‘I am dying, I can’t breathe’

Text message from Pham Thi Tra My, 26 year old who died in the back of a truck


Rubber dinghies, trucks, containers, car boots, cargo holds and plane wheelbays can operate, for asylum seekers and the undocumented, as technologies of incarceration that often lead to death. The death of asylum seekers fatally trapped in these modes of necrotransport can be both seen and unseen: their death is seen when they are finally discovered, as happened when the asphyxiated bodies of 39 Vietnamese people, including two who were only 15 years old, were found in a truck in Essex, England; alternatively, their deaths remain unseen and invisibilised when their bodies are clandestinely dumped by traffickers in order to eliminate the incriminating evidence.

While, in the case of the Essex lorry deaths, reporting was largely sympathetic to the victims and their families, the question can be raised of how they would have been treated had they been found alive. A similar case in San Antonio, Texas in 2017 partially answers this question. Here, 39 people were also found in the back of a truck, 10 of them died, while the others survived, though not without sustaining serious injuries and psychological trauma. After they cooperated with authorities and agreed to testify against the truck driver, James Bradley Jr, it was decided that they were no longer needed as witnesses in the proceedings. Two of the survivors were then deported to Mexico, without the knowledge of their lawyers, while others, including those who have acted as witnesses likewise face the threat of deportation.


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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.