A Swedish Student Halted A Man's Deportation By Refusing To Take Her Seat On A Plane

“I’m trying to change my country’s rules.”

A Swedish college student stopped an Afghan asylum seeker's deportation by standing alone in the aisle of plane while live-streaming her protest.

As reported by The Washington Post, when Elin Ersson learned that a Afghan man in his twenties would be deported from Sweden, she intentionally bought a ticket for the same flight.  Although that man was reportedly placed on a different flight, an older man in his fifties was being deported to Afghanistan via Ersson's chosen flight. 

Once she boarded the plane at Gothenburg airport, she stood in the aisle and demanded the deportee be released.

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

"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," she said in the video. 

A few passengers were upset about her act of civil disobedience. In the video, passengers in the background can be heard saying that she was holding up the flight and scaring children. 

"I don't care what you think… What about all these children you are frightening?" one man has said as he tried to grab her phone.  

"It's your country's rules," another passenger said. 

"I'm trying to change my country's rules,"  Ersson responds. "It's not right to send people to hell."

"We are with you," one Turkish man said in the video.  A soccer team also stood up in the back of plane in solidarity with her protest. 

"I don't know if they're trying to listen to what I'm saying, but as long as they are standing, this plane is not allowed to go," she says again. 

Ersson and the deportee were both escorted off of the plane. According to The Post it's unclear what happened next, but it was confirmed that the older man was in  Swedish custody and would eventually be deported. However,  Ersson wrote on Facebook: "The deportation was interrupted."

"There was only one person on this flight today, but there will be more," she said in the video.  

Per The New York Times,  almost 47,000 people from Afghanistan applied for asylum in Sweden between 2015 and 2017.

"People [in Afghanistan] are not sure of any safety," Ersson told The Guardian following her one-woman protest. "They don't know if they're going to live another day. As I've been working and meeting people from Afghanistan and heard their stories, I've been more and more in the belief that no one should be deported to Afghanistan because it's not a safe place. The way that we are treating refugees right now, I think that we can do better, especially in a rich country like Sweden."

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