Elin Ersson deportation video protest has gone viral.

Elin Ersson’s video protest has gone viral: Millions of people are keen to see how the Swedish student stopped the supposed deportation of an Afghan refugee. Many have called her a hero others have criticized the action.

As every air passenger knows, a plane cannot take off until all on board have taken their seats and buckled their seat belts. On Monday, a young Swedish activist named Elin Ersson used that rule to keep a flight carrying an adult Afghan man allegedly being deported to Kabul from taking off in Gothenborg.

Ersson filmed her protest and streamed it live. The 14-minute video quickly went viral with millions of internet users tuning in after it was posted. Ersson later gave DW permission to make its own shorter web video from the original content. More than five million viewers have seen and distributed the DW video over the course of the day.
Watch here on DW Stories

During Ersson’s protest she announced she had intended to hinder the deportation of a young Afghan man, even unfurling and filming his picture as she spoke into the camera. She said she did not know why he was not on the plane and claimed that the older Afghan man was being deported instead.

‘No one should be deported to a country at war’

DW contacted 21-year-old Ersson, who is studying to become a social worker at Gothenburg University. She was vehement in her criticism of Sweden’s deportation policies, specifically stating that authorities keep deportees in the dark as to what is happening and cutting them off from their families and their lawyers. Underscoring the urgency of the situation, she spoke of the fate of another deportee who she claims was killed within hours of landing in Kabul after he was deported by Swedish authorities earlier this year.

Ersson says she was moved to “do the right thing” on Monday after she encountered the younger Afghan man’s family at the airport. She claims he was “taken from the facility he was staying in and transported from Gothenburg to Stockholm. There he was put on a flight and was deported with another person. It took him 48 hours to reach his family. All the way to the airport he had no idea what was going on and he had no possibility to call his family or lawyer. This is how deportations in Sweden work.”

Speaking of her motivation Ersson said: “Afghanistan is a land in war but European countries continue to deport people to a place where they can’t be sure if they will live for another day … It’s my firm belief that no one should be deported to a land in war.”

A courageous stance in a misunderstood situation

Ahmad Zaki Khalil, head of the Refugee Affairs Committee in Afghan Association in Stockholm, praised Ersson’s courage in an interview with DW, thanking her for her effort but noting that the situation was different than what she perceived it to be.

Khalil says: “In Sweden, authorities offer no information as to when a deportation is to be carried out. The rationale behind that stance is to keep demonstrations and actions like this from happening.”

Livestreamed protest

The flight that Ersson boarded was scheduled to travel to Istanbul where the older man was to be transferred to another plane to Afghanistan. With everyone else on the plane seated, the young Swede took out her cellphone and began livestreaming video on Facebook. She then proceeded to film herself speaking in English as she walked through the plane, explaining that the man was being deported to Afghanistan, “where he will most likely get killed.”

As the video began, one could hear flight personnel ordering her to sit down, as well as angry passengers doing the same. Another flight attendant called for her to turn off the phone and take her, seat which she once again refused to do. Ersson insisted that she was not doing anything illegal, adding that as soon as the Afghan was taken off the plane she would follow the pilot’s orders.


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