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“Pro tip: it is fully legal to refuse to sit down on a flight to avoid deportation,” Elin Ersson wrote on Facebook on Monday. In a livestream that followed, the Swedish student activist documented her act of civil disobedience before her flight from Gothenburg to Istanbul took off; she was attempting to prevent the deportation of a fellow passenger, a 52-year-old man, to Afghanistan.
Ersson’s 14-minute-long livestream shows the intense emotions she and other passengers went through as she refused to take a seat for the sake of a man she didn’t know but wanted to save. “In Afghanistan, there is a big war going on, and if he goes there he will most likely be killed, so I am trying to save his life,” she explains at one point to another passenger. “As long as I am standing up, and hopefully other people stand up, then the pilot can’t take off.”
Deportation from Gothenburg to AfghanistanPosted by Elin Ersson on Monday, July 23, 2018
Throughout the livestream, both flight attendants and other passengers confront Errson, attempting to get her to stop. “I am very sorry that a man is going to die, and that you are more worried about missing your flight,” she says to one perturbed passenger. Halfway into the livestream, Errson notes that other passengers are beginning to stand, including a full soccer team. As the Afghan man is finally taken from the plane, passengers applaud. “There was only one person on this flight today, but there will be more,” Errson says, wiping tears from her eyes, before she exits the plane to be met by Swedish authorities.
Errson’s livestream has been viewed over 2.6 million times on Facebook, and people are calling her a hero for single-handedly disrupting the deportation.
This is how one person can make a difference, and how you can use your white privilege to do something good:— Maryam Alkhawaja (@MARYAMALKHAWAJA) July 25, 2018
Swedish student's dramatic plane protest stops man's deportation 'to hell' https://t.co/rduyi9iFJo
#ElinErsson Is an example of the power that we all have. The British man who tried to steal her phone is an example of the boot licking shit heads that people like her have to suffer day to day. So much love for this woman and the bravery she displayed— Dean Harris (@originaldadjoke) July 24, 2018
Although Errson stated several times that she was doing nothing illegal, Deutsche Welle has reported otherwise. According to Swedish authorities, refusal to obey a pilot’s orders may result in fines, or up to six months jail time. They have also stated that the Afghan man who Errson was attempting to save will still be deported.
H/T BuzzFeed News
Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They have written for The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, The Lingerie Addict, and Bullet Points.