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This Student Halted a Man’s Deportation With Her Viral Plane Protest

A Swedish student named Elin Ersson has gone viral after recording herself staging a protest on a flight from Gothenburg to Istanbul. Ersson, who purchased a seat on the flight in order to attempt to stop the deportation of one of its passengers to Afghanistan, refused to take her seat once on board the aircraft. Eventually the man was removed from the plane, followed by Ersson, to applause, but not before Ersson tearfully declared that she would stand her ground: “I’m doing what I can to save a person’s life,” she says in the recording.

Ersson, 21, is a social work student at the University of Gothenburg and has worked as a volunteer for refugee groups. She and other activists connected on Facebook had heard a young Afghan man was going to be deported on the Istanbul flight and crowdsourced money for a plane ticket. Once she boarded, she approached the detainee—who turned out to be a different man than the one she had intended to protect—and was rebuffed by accompany security guards. That’s when she started live-streaming.

The video is a testament not just to Ersson’s bravery but to the hostility she faced in potentially halting the flight. At one point, a British man tries to take her cell phone, telling her, angrily, “I don’t care what you think.” A Turkish man came to Ersson’s aid, as did a soccer team at the back of the plane.

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