Spontaneous protest on plane halts deportation

2:13 min

In an expression of spontaneous protest against the deportation of a young Iranian man, passengers aboard a flight from Östersund refused to fasten their seat belts, which, by law, prevented the pilots from taking off.

The flight to Stockholm would have been the first step in Ghader Ghalamere's deportation to his native Iran.

Supporters of the man had gone to the local airport and handed out leaflets to passengers, asking them to stop the deportation.

Once everyone was on board, a person from the action group stood up and called for passengers not to fasten their seat belts, and many people listened.

"Being faced with this kind of choice left us with a lot of funny emotions since we did not really know the background and what it was all about. It was very emotional because you did not know who to believe, what to think or what to do," said Karin Bodén, a passenger on the flight.

Another of the passengers was Malin Björk, the Left Party's top candidate for the upcoming EU elections. She said that she spoke to several passengers and told them that they were sitting on the same plane as a man who has a child and that he was to be deported to Iran.

"The only thing we could do was to protest in a dignified manner," Björk told Swedish Radio.

The plane was standing on the airport tarmac for a long time until finally a man whom Björk claimed was from the Swedish Migration Board boarded the plane and spoke to the crew.

Hakan Modin with the Jämtland Police said it was the pilot's decision not to let the man board the airplane, thereby stopping the deportation.

"Yes, the flight captain is the autocratic ruler when it comes to who gets to fly on the airplane and the information that I received was that this man did not board the airplane for security reasons", said Modin.

After the incident, Ghader Ghalamere sat with police and waited to be taken back to the Migration Board detention center.

Asked by tabloid Aftonbladet what would happen if he were sent back to Iran, Ghalamere said: "I was a guerrilla soldier and fought against the Iranian regime for five years in northern Iraq. I was a member of the KDP, the Kurdish Democratic Party. There are laws in Iran, which say that all who fought against the Iranian regime with weapons should be killed."