- Politics and Social Issues»
People Who Live in Airport Terminals
Apart from occasional cases in Toronto airport and Heathrow airport in which the homeless people seek shelter in airports, there are people who actually live in airports for years. The most well-known one is the man behind Steven Spielberg's movie The Terminal, Merhan Karimi Nasseri.
A sad ending
Merhan Karimi Nasseri had lived in Charles De Gaulle Airport between 1988 and 2006. He was expelled from Iran for his political views. Through a series of fateful missteps, he landed at Charles De Gaulle Airport without any documents in 1988. Since then, Europe's increasingly stiff stance toward refugees has kept him at the airport in legal limbo.
In July 2006, Nasseri was hospitalized. In January 2007 he left the hospital and was looked after by the airport's branch of the French Red Cross. He was lodged for a few weeks in a hotel close to the airport. On 6 March 2007, he transferred to a homeless shelter in Paris.
A happy ending
Sanjai Shah, a former Kenyan national, gave up his Kenyan passport and flew to the UK in 2004 on a British Overseas citizen passport which permits temporary entry but not residence. UK Immigration officials suspected he planned to stay in the UK so refused him entry and flew him back. He was then staged a 13 month protest while living in Kenya's International Airport. In this case, Sanjai has chosen to remain at the airport, despite being allowed to enter Kenya.
In July 2005 he was given full British citizenship, followed later by a British Citizen passport and another flight to the UK.
An unknown ending
Recently, Feng Zhenghu, a Chinese dissident who has been barred from entering China by the Shanghai immigration since Nov 2009, also chose to live in Japan Narita International airport as his protest. Similar to Nasseri, the refusal of entry to his own country is due to political reasons; and similar to Sanjai, Feng Zhenghu refuses to leave the immigration hall of Narita International Airport despite being allowed to enter Japan.
Feng Zhenghu has been living in the airport for 7 weeks now.