Deportation protest - The power of an individual

Deportation protest - The power of an individual

A 21-year-old Swedish student stopped the deportation of a man to Afghanistan by boarding his flight and refusing to sit down until he was let off the plane.

Whether her action was right or wrong, it shows the power that a single committed individual can wield in the face of overwhelming odds.

It also shows the power of social media. The student at the University of Gothenburg streamed her one-person protest via Facebook where it amassed thousands of likes and shares and has been viewed more than 2m times.

While there have been airport protests here for more than a decade, they have centered on the use of Shannon as a refueling stop for US military aircraft and have been confined to the runway.

There has been little opposition to the International Protection Act which came into effect in 2016 and bolsters the State’s power to enforce deportation orders.

It gives authorities powers to arrest, without a warrant, people who have been issued deportation orders.

The man in question was fortunate to have such a doughty defender in Elin Ersson who had bought a ticket when she learned the flight from Sweden would carry someone being deported. She did it, she said, to “save his life”.

She was also fortunate in making her protest within the jurisdiction of a liberal democracy. Had she done so in Turkey where the plane was due to land en route to Afghanistan, she might well have been deprived of her liberty, if not her life.

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