A Swedish student on board a plane has prevented the deportation of an Afghan refugee from the country, after a lone struggle against the flight crew and other passengers, who were accusing her of causing a delay.
Elin Ersson was aboard the plane from the Swedish city of Gothenburg to Istanbul, Turkey, when she found out that the Afghan man was going to be deported.
She started the protest by refusing to sit down until the man was removed from the flight that was due to take him out of Sweden.
As long as a person is standing up onboard a plane, the pilot is not allowed to take off.
“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,” she is heard as saying. “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.”
Ersson captured a video of her protest, which received more than half a million hits on Tuesday.
Ersson later challenged an angry passenger, who was trying to seize her phone. Shouts of “sit down, we want to go” can also be heard.
“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.”
According to Swedavia, the company that runs Landvetter airport in Gothenburg, an Afghan refugee and three security personnel had left the plane, followed by Ersson.
The incident shed light on Sweden’s tough policy on refugees as it heads for an election in September in which an anti-immigration far-right party eyes gains.