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Swedish student gives Afghan refugee reprieve from deportation with protest on airplane

Category: It`s interesting to know 

A 21-year-old student from Sweden successfully delayed the deportation of an Afghan man on a flight out of Gothenburg on Monday by refusing to take her seat and livestreaming herself when airport personnel and even a passenger tried to get her to drop her demand that the refugee be removed from the plane.


“I’m not going to sit down until this person is off the plane,” Elin Ersson can be heard saying on the video, as her fellow passengers are heard grumbling in the background. An unseen British man confronts her, telling her that her behavior is “upsetting” and unsuccessfully tries to take her phone from her. After another passenger complains that Ersson is “preventing all these passengers going to their destination.” The young activist addresses them directly.

“But they’re not going to die,” she retorts. “He’s going to die.”


Ersson’s video has racked up nearly three million views as of this writing. It culminated in other passengers throwing their support behind the young woman and standing with her until the 50-year-old Afghan man who was being deported on the flight was removed from the plane. Ersson, who is training to become a social worker at the University of Gothenburg and has volunteered with refugee groups for about a year, said that it was a travesty that Sweden — where 163,000 people sought refuge in 2015, more than half of whom were Afghans and 35,000 of whom were unaccompanied minors — considered Afghanistan a “safe” place to deport people back to. Only 28 percent of Afghan refugees are granted asylum in Sweden, which has seen a rise in populism and far-right politics in apparent response to the influx of immigrants.


“People there are not sure of any safety. They don’t know if they’re going to live another day,” said Ersson. “I’m meeting Nazis on the street every month or so. I sense they’re getting strength … I hope that people start questioning how their country treats refugees. We need to start seeing the people whose lives our immigration [policies] are destroying.” According to CNN, government officials say the deportation is a forced one and that at some point the man will be sent back to Afghanistan.


Tags: Elin Ersson

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