Civil Courage: Swedish Activist Stops Deportation of an Afghan Migrant

Published July 25th, 2018 - 11:22 GMT
Elin Ersson, 21, stood up to stop the deportation of an Afghan man who was on her plane, in protest of the Swedish authorities policy of deporting migrants. (Screenshot)
Elin Ersson, 21, stood up to stop the deportation of an Afghan man who was on her plane, in protest of the Swedish authorities policy of deporting migrants. (Screenshot)

By Randa Darwish

A video went viral, Monday, of a young Swedish activist while protesting the deportation of a 52-year-old Afghan man back to Kabul on the same flight she was taking from Gothenburg to Istanbul.

Elin Ersson, 21, refused to sit down before the flight's departure until the Afghan man, who was being deported, was taken off the plane. After 15 minutes of heated negotiations, streamed live on Facebook, she succeeded and the man was taken off the plane and temporarily spared deportation.

Shedding light on her opposition to the Swedish government's policy on deporting migrants, Ersson explained to the other passengers how she was trying to save the live of an Afghan who was being deported to a country in war. She went further, explaining he faced a serious threat of being killed there just because his application was rejected by the Swedish authorities.

“All I want to do is to stop the deportation and I will comply to the rules here… I have not committed a crime.”

In the video, Ersson appeared surrounded by flight personnel and angry passengers ordering her to sit down as she was delaying their flight.

An English-speaking man interfered at some point of the live streaming, shouting at her as she was trying to explain her argument. The man starts talking bluntly: “I don't care what you think here… You’re frightening all the people,” while attempting to take her phone.

After around 10 minutes of talks on the plane between Ersson and other passengers, who were divided between supporters and critics, a voice was heard telling Ersson that the Afghan man will be taking off the plane.

“The 52-year-old man will go out of the plane and so will I after I see him out”, Ersson said. Shortly after, passengers started applauding Ersson for her courage and protest.

The live stream was viewed more than 2 million times, shared around 32,000  times, and received thousands of comments and likes.

Opinions were split over Ersson’s step. Supporters applauded her courage and humanity in which she refused to send a man to his death due to the harsh laws in her country.

Others criticized her "selfishness', saying stopping the flight delayed dozens of people.

Meanwhile, the Swedish police said Ersson might face a fine or up to six month in jail as she refused to comply with the pilot orders. This comes, despite her claim in the live streaming, she is doing nothing wrong.

Ersson might have succeeded in stopping the deportation of this man on her flight, however, Swedish authorities said he is held in custody and he will be deported. They did not say when this will happen. 


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