By Samantha Schmidt | The Washington Post
All over the world – from Chicago to Munich to Roskilde, Denmark – airports have become centers of political protests against deportations. Activists have blocked airport entrances, demonstrated outside of border fences and even stormed a runway to stop flights with deportees.
This week a Swedish student tried a different approach. When Elin Ersson learned that an Afghan was to be deported from Sweden on Monday, she bought a ticket for the same flight. When she boarded the plane at Gothenburg airport, Ersson refused to take her seat in the aisle until the 52-year-old deportee was released.
Her dramatic act of civil disobedience, which she experienced live on Facebook, forced the flight to be delayed by two hours to Swedavia, the company that operates the airport. In the end, their efforts were successful ̵
"I will not sit down until this person is off the plane," Ersson said on the Facebook live video, which has now been called more than 2 times a million times. "The pilot has the right to say he can not be on the plane."
If the man were deported to conflict-ridden Afghanistan, she told the people around her, "He's most likely to be killed."
As she continues to film and refuses to sit down, passengers and flight attendants are heard on the increasingly frustrating video.
"Sit down, let's go," you hear a voice say.
A flight attendant tells her several times to turn her phone off because the airline security demonstration is in progress. "You have to sit down and turn it off or you can leave the plane," says the flight attendant. He explains that the flight will take him to Istanbul, where the authorities would accompany the deportees to flee to Afghanistan. "In Istanbul they will decide what to do," says the flight attendant.
"I do not want a man's life being taken away just because you do not want to miss your flight," replies Ersson. She insists that what she does is completely legal. She only films her face and rarely shows the faces of her surroundings, for privacy reasons.
The flight attendant says the crew is "not allowed to do such a thing" because the deportee was accompanied by Swedish authorities.
A passenger is furiously encouraged to stop and tell her she "upsets all the people down there. "" I do not care what you think. , … What about all those kids you're scared of?
He takes Ersson's phone away from her before a flight attendant returns it.
"It's the rules of your country," another passenger tells her.
"I'm trying to follow the rules of my country "It's not right to send people to hell."
"But you prevent all these customers from getting to their destination," says the man.
Children can be heard crying and passengers can be seen pacing as the 14-minute video progresses, but others on the flight seem to support their efforts A group of passengers begins to applaud Ersson. "We're with you," a Turk tells her crying as she sees a football team get up in the back of the plane.
"I do not know if they're trying to listen to what I'm saying, but as long as they stand, the plane can not go," she says.
At the end of the video e in flight attendant Erson that "you and the passenger will not fly. The deportee was taken off the plane, Ersson went off by himself, said Hans Uhr, Press Officer of Swedavia Airports
It's not clear what happened to anyone after leaving the plane, but the deportation was "interrupted," Ersson wrote on Facebook.
"There was only one person on this flight today But there will be more, "the video said.
According to German news agency Deutsche Welle, Swedish authorities confirmed that the Afghan man remained in custody and was eventually to be deported.
Despite Ersson's allegations that her Protest was legal, DW's police said they could face fines or even jail sentences if they refused to follow a pilot's instructions on the plane.
As the video of Ersson's Prot est circulated in the social media, she was criticized by some viewers obstruction of the flight and delay of passenger numbers. But others praised her for her bold efforts.
"We may not know all the details about the case, but I am amazed at their bravery, compassion, and determination to save a man's life," wrote one supporter on Twitter.
"They have all sent us a message so that we can get up in what we believe in and not shy away from what's right," wrote another.
Erson's demonstration takes place as European Union countries tighten their borders in the midst of a global refugee crisis.
Afghans are still among the largest groups of asylum-seekers. Between the first quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of this year, the countries of the European Union received 37,795 first-time applications for asylum from Afghanistan, according to the EuroStat. Only Iraq and Syria had higher numbers.
Afghanistan continues to face deadly attacks by the Taliban and the Islamic State. Civilian casualties in Afghanistan reached 2,258 in the first quarter, a record, according to UN officials.
Earlier this month, the German Interior Minister came under fire for taking 69 deportations of 69 Afghan asylum seekers on his 69th birthday. Days after one of these refugees returned to Kabul by force, he was found dead in his hotel. He apparently killed himself.