'I don’t want a man’s life to be taken away just because you don’t want to miss your flight,' she says. 'I am not going to sit down until the person is off the plane.'
25 Julio 2018 12:01
A student on board a plane at Gothenburg airport stopped the deportation of a 52-year-old Afghan asylum seeker from Sweden by refusing to take her seat until the man was removed from the flight.
Elin Ersson, an asylum activist who reportedly attends Gothenburg University, bought a ticket for the flight from Gothenburg to Turkey hearing that a man from Afghanistan whose asylum application was rejected would be deported on it, Swedish press reports.
Ersson started live-streamed her protest in English via her mobile phone and posted it on Facebook, presumably to have the most impact on the discourse of Swedish deportations. At the time of writing, the video has 2.3 million views.
The response from fellow passengers was mixed. Although many showed sympathy as the video went on, Ersson broke down in tears repeatedly and struggled to keep her composure.
‘I don’t want a man’s life to be taken away just because you don’t want to miss your flight,’ she says. ‘I am not going to sit down until the person is off the plane.’
An air steward repeatedly told her to stop filming, but Ersson said: ‘I am doing what I can to save a person’s life. As long as a person is standing 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.’
An angry passenger, who sounded English, tried to snatch her phone away, but Ersson told him: ‘What is more important, a life, or your time? … I want him to get off the plane because he is not safe in Afghanistan. I am trying to change my country’s rules, I don’t like them. It is not right to send people to hell.’
Following a tense standoff, in which airport authorities refused to use force to take Ersson off the aircraft, many passengers broke into applause when the asylum seeker was eventually allowed to get off the plane.
Swedavia, the company that runs Landvetter airport in Gothenburg, confirmed that an Afghan asylum seeker and three security personnel had left the plane, followed by Ersson.
International praise has been rolling in for Ersson, whose activism shone a spotlight on Sweden’s increasingly hostile attitude towards asylum seekers fleeing war. Although the man in question was allowed to leave the flight in this case, Deutsche Welle reported that he was still in custody and will be deported at a later date.