Protesting Swedish airline passenger refuses to sit, halting migrant's deportation

A protesting woman aboard a flight from Sweden to Turkey blocked the deportation of a fellow passenger, refusing to sit until the Afghan migrant was taken off the plane. 

“He will most likely get killed if he’s on this plane,” said Elin Ersson, who streamed Monday’s confrontation in a Facebook Live video on a flight scheduled to depart Gothenburg, Sweden, for Istanbul. “I’m trying to save his life.”

Ersson, whose Facebook profile says she lives in Gothenburg, bought a ticket after learning that Swedish authorities planned to deport Afghans aboard the flight, Swedish media reported. 

During the 14-minute livestream (which had more than 2 million views as of Wednesday), Ersson said flight attendants pushed her and tried to take her phone while fellow passengers complained about the delay. She responded by saying she wasn’t behaving illegally and would fully comply with orders to disembark from the plane once the Afghan man was removed. 

“I’m trying to change my country’s rules,” she said, referring to Sweden’s record of deporting Afghan migrants whose asylum claims have been denied. More than 160,000 people applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, when Europe as a whole experienced an influx of more than 1 million people.

The Afghan man, along with security personnel, eventually left the plane, followed by Ersson, and the flight took off, according to The Guardian. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the man will be deported later.

Sweden isn’t the only country deporting Afghans whose asylum claims aren’t approved. Germany regularly sends Afghans home as well.

Afghanistan, unlike war-torn states like Syria, is deemed safe enough by a variety of governments for people to return home. Still, human rights organizations like Amnesty International have urged countries to halt deportations, given that the situation in Afghanistan is unstable and often violent. 

“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.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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