Swedish Student’s Courageous “Stand-up” Protest Stops Deportation of Afghan Immigrant

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On Monday, July 23, a man originally from Afghanistan was on a plane waiting to take off at the airport in Gothenburg, Sweden—being deported back to a war-torn and devastated country after being denied political asylum by the Swedish government. Then a young woman—a student at University of Gothenburg—got on board the plane and then declared that she was refusing to sit down until the asylum seeker was taken off the plane so that he would not be deported. The student, Elin Ersson, live-streamed her protest—and the video has gone viral, receiving millions of hits.

As some passengers and crew reacted with hostility, Ersson walked up and down the aisle explaining why she was taking the action. She said, “I don’t want a man’s life to be taken away just because you don’t want to miss your flight. I am not going to sit down until the person is off the plane.” When one passenger upset by the delay tried to grab her phone, Ersson said, “What is more important, a life, or your time? … I want him [the asylum seeker] 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.”

Other passengers made clear they supported her. A few minutes into the protest, Ersson said, “There’s a Turkish guy helping me out, telling me what I am doing is right. Some people are really applauding all this what I am doing. There is a football team standing at the back. As long as they are standing, this plane is not allowed to go.”

Finally, a flight attendant announced that the asylum seeker would be taken off the plane—thus stopping the deportation for now.

Ersson, who is part of a group in Sweden fighting against deportation of immigrants and refugees, told the British Guardian after the protest, “People [in Afghanistan] are not sure of any safety. They don’t know if they’re going to live another day. As I’ve been working and meeting people from Afghanistan and heard their stories, I’ve been more and more in the belief that no one should be deported to Afghanistan because it’s not a safe place…”

She said about the action she took, “I hope that people start questioning how their country treats refugees. We need to start seeing the people whose lives our immigration [policies] are destroying.”

This courageous action by a single protester had a big impact—at a time when all across Europe and in the U.S. there are sharply rising attacks on immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers by governments as well as by fascist groups openly spewing out white-supremacist poison and carrying out physical violence.


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