Swedish Student Stands Up Against Asylum Seeker's Deportation

"I’m doing what I can to save a person’s life."

What you need to know
  • Swedish woman Elin Ersson live streamed a protest to prevent a man's deportation on board a flight at Gothenburg Airport
  • It's been viewed tens of thousands of times on social media
  • She has since thanked supporters for their support, and may face penalties for her actions

A student activist who took a stand for an Afghan asylum seeker who was allegedly being deported to Kabul has been labelled a hero, yet may face penalties for her actions.

Swedish woman Elin Ersson live-streamed a protest onboard a flight from Gothenburg to Istanbul on Tuesday morning (AEST).

The 14-minute video has captured global attention -- widely met with praise and some criticism -- as Ersson brushed off tears in her attempt to stop the planned deportation of a man in his 50s on the flight.

Image: Facebook / Elin Ersson

“I’m right now at an airport, on an aeroplane, and there’s a person getting deported to Afghanistan,” she began, as someone tried to snatch her phone.

“I’m not going to sit down until this person is off the plane, because the person is most likely going to get killed if he is on the plane.”

Ersson told Swedish outlet DW she understood a young man had been taken from the facility where he was staying and deported with another person.

“It took him 48 hours to reach his family,” she said.

Elin Ersson, a Swedish student, has captured global attention through her plane protest. Image: Facebook

Once onboard the plane, she realised the younger man wasn’t on her flight, but that another older man was. She stepped in to protest the older man's deportation.

"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."

Ersson remained standing for the entirety of the video -- with her phone’s camera focused on her face -- in what appeared to start out as a hostile plane cabin.

“You’re upsetting all the people here. I don’t care what you think,” a British man said in the video.

“You’re preventing all these passengers going to their destination.”

“But they’re not going to die; he’s going to die,” Ersson calmly replied, as the man attempted to take her phone from her.

“It’s not my fault that he’s getting deported. I’m trying to stop him. I’m trying to change my country’s rules. I don’t like them.”

The student continued to film herself as she negotiated with cabin staff, who repeatedly insisted she sit down and turn off her phone.

She began to break down as passengers rallied around her.

“A Turkish guy is helping me out and telling me what I am doing is right. He is with me, with him,” she says.

“Some people are really applauding all this that I am doing.”

Erson was then told both she and the man will exit the plane.

“The flight attendant has said the (asylum seeker) will go out of the plane and so will I, as soon as I see him out,” she says, wiping tears from her eyes.

While Ersson denied any wrongdoing, DW reports Swedish authorities think differently.

According to the Swedish Aviation Act, passengers who refuse to obey a pilot’s orders while on board a plane can face fines or up to six months in jail.

It remains unclear whether the man will be, or has since been, deported.

Swedish authorities would not comment on the case when contacted by DW.