Swedish student stops deportation of Afghan man with protest streamed on Facebook

Posted at 5:10 PM, Jul 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-25 17:10:47-04

A student used a Facebook Live Stream to prevent the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker on board an Istanbul-bound plane at Gothenburg airport in Sweden.

Elin Ersson refused to sit down until the man was taken off the plane along with her as the other passengers applauded.

In her video, Ersson, who on Facebook says she is a student at Gothenburg University, explained to stewards and passengers why she was taking a stand.

“There is a man who is going to get deported to Afghanistan, where he will most likely get killed,” she said in the video. “I’m not going to sit down until this person is off the plane.”

After she was asked to sit down or get off by a steward, and to turn off the video, Ersson said: “I don’t want a man’s life to be taken away just because you don’t want to miss your flight. I am doing what I can to save a person’s life.

“As long as a person is standing up, and other people stand up, the pilot cannot take off. All I want to do is stop the deportation and then I will comply with the rules here. This is all perfectly legal and I have not committed a crime.”

At one point an angry passenger, tried to grab her phone, saying Ersson was “upsetting all the people” and frightening children.

After a flight attendant intervened, Ersson replied: “It’s not my fault that he’s getting deported. I’m trying to stop this.”

“I’m trying to change my country’s rules. I don’t like them. It’s not right to send people to hell,” she continued.

Another passenger in the video translated her comments into Turkish and a football team also stood in the aisle, according to Ersson.

As Ersson and the deportee were removed from the plane, other passengers erupted in an applause.

Christer Fuxborg, a spokeman for the Swedish West Region police, confirmed to CNN that it was a forced deportation, adding that it’s unclear when the man will be deported.

Police figures for 2018 show 6,528 people were deported from Sweden in the period up to May, compared with a full year figure of 12,477 for 2017.

Afghan refugees in Europe

After refugees from Syria, Afghan nationals represent the highest number of asylum applicants in Europe, according to the European Asylum Support Office.

Unlike Syria, however, Afghanistan is deemed safe enough for the repatriation of asylum seekers, despite regular bombings in Kabul and violent clashes between Taliban and Afghan government forces.

Afghan asylum seekers in Europe must prove through extensive documentation that they are persecuted at home in order to be accepted as refugees in Europe.