Swedish Student Stops Deportation on Airplane

Elin Ersson, a 21-year old student who has been working with Afghan refugees in Sweden, halted the deportation of a 52-year old Afghan man who had been seeking asylum.  The Afghan man was being deported back to Afghanistan where there was a fear that he would be killed.  Ersson bought a ticket for the flight after learning about the planned deportation, initially of another man.  As the plane was getting ready to leave she stood and refused to be seated.

Since a plane cannot move until all the passengers are seated her action provoked a discussion among the plane crew and passengers about what to do.  She live-streamed a video of herself with her phone, talking about what was happening.  Some passengers were angry and upset with her, one man seizing her phone which was then returned by a flight attendant. “I don’t want a man’s life to be taken away just because you don’t want to miss your flight,” she said. “I am not going to sit down until the person is off the plane.”  Other passengers encouraged her, including members of a football team who stood as well.  Eventually the Afghan refugee was taken from the plane.  Many passengers applauded.

Ersson is a social work student at Gothenburg University.  She has been working with the refugees and asylum seekers for about a year.  If charges are pressed against Ersson for her action, she could face a stiff fine.

Sweden has had many asylum seekers with about 1,500 applications per month.  In 2017 Sweden deported about 12,500 refugees.  Sweden considers Afghanistan a safe enough country for asylum-seekers who have had their applications denied to be returned.

Here is the video from Ersson:

For more on the story click here to read the report from The Guardian.

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