Swedish student protest halts deportation of Afghan man


Swedish student protest halts deportation of Afghan man

Paul Bond

28 July 2018

A video of a student in Sweden halting the deportation of an Afghan man has gone viral, having been viewed by more than two million people. It reveals a broad wave of revulsion at the treatment of refugees.

Elin Ersson, a 21-year-old social work student at the University of Gothenburg, has been volunteering with refugee groups for around a year. A group of activists heard that a young Afghan man was going to be deported on Monday and bought a ticket for his flight from Gothenburg to Istanbul. Ersson went with the young man’s family to the airport, where they spoke to passengers explaining what was happening.

It was not until Ersson boarded that she realised the young man was not on the flight. However, “there were rumours going around” that immigration officials were moving other people for deportation, including an older Afghan man. Ersson realised that the 52-year-old was at the back of the plane. She approached him, speaking to him briefly before his security detail pushed her away.

Ersson began filming on her phone and livestreaming the footage to Facebook “in case something happened to me, and … to make sure that other people knew what was going on.” It was only thanks to her footage that the family of the young man whose deportation she had gone to halt learned he was not on that flight.

With a great deal of personal courage, Ersson then refused to take her seat and switch off her phone, thus preventing the plane’s departure. Cabin crew described her as “unruly” and asked her repeatedly to sit down or leave the flight. She remained on her feet, telling crew and other passengers, “I’m not going to sit down until this person is off the plane.”

Filming only her own…

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