Swedish student's protest of refugee deportation on plane goes viral

Elin Ersson  Facebook

Elin Ersson Facebook

A Swedish student has gained worldwide acclaim after stopping the deportation of a 52-year-old man from Afghanistan by refusing to sit down on a flight from Gothenburg.

Elin Ersson started live-streaming her protest on Facebook after flight attendants demanded she sit down for departure and tried to take away her phone.

Speaking in English, she explained that the man was being deported to Afghanistan "where he will most likely get killed".

Errson's livestream has been viewed over 2.6 million times on Facebook, and people are calling her a hero for single-handedly disrupting the deportation. He is in Swedish custody and will be returned to Afghanistan regardless of her protests, according to German media reports. For 14-minutes, passengers and flight personnel could be heard urging Ersson to sit down and switch off her phone.

"In their determination to increase the number of deportations, European governments are implementing a policy that is reckless and unlawful", Anna Shea, Amnesty International's researcher on refugee and migrant rights, said in October. I am doing what I can to save a person's life.

The flight from Gothenburg, Sweden, to Istanbul, Turkey, was delayed for two hours, Swedavia - the company that operates the airport - said in a statement.

"Wow! what bravery! So happy there are still good people like her!" one comment reads.

"What is more important, a life, or your time?" she asked her fellow passenger. All I want to do is stop the deportation and then I will comply with the rules here.

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Despite opposition from some passengers and attempts to take her phone, Ersson continues her protest.

"As long as a person is standing up, and other people stand up, the pilot can not take off".

'This is all perfectly legal and I have not committed a crime'.

Its Migration Board recently assessed that Afghanistan was safe for asylum seekers whose applications had been denied, after Sweden received roughly 163,000 refugees in 2015.

"I'm trying to change my country's rules I don't like them". Then, she got on board the plane - the group had already raised money for her ticket - and refused to sit down until the man was let off.

Sweden will go to polls in September in an election that is being fought largely on immigration and asylum.

Despite an outpouring of praise for Ersson online, the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping Europe has reached Sweden, where the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement has been linked to a series of explosions at asylum centers in Gothenburg.

Together, European countries returned nearly 10,000 rejected Afghan asylum seekers in 2016 - nearly triple the number in the previous year.

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