Refugee saved after plane passengers' seat belt protest

Apr 15, 2014

Temporary reprieve for Ghader Ghalamere after his family's last-minute departure lounge appeal

PASSENGERS aboard a flight from Sweden to Iran refused to fasten their seat belts in a bid to save a fellow passenger who was facing deportation, and Ghader Ghalamere has now been granted a temporary reprieve after the protest prevented the pilots from being able to take off.

Ghalamere fled Iran years ago fearing persecution and now has two young children with his wife Fatemeh, a Swedish resident.

He qualified for a residence permit himself but immigration law required him to apply for it from outside Sweden. Police initially asked him to travel to Norway to make his application for a Swedish passport from there. But after two weeks the attempt failed and he returned to Sweden empty-handed. Upon his return, the family were told his trip had proven the children could survive in his absence, and the Migration Board ordered his deportation, reports The Independent.

On Thursday, he was put on a flight at Ostersund bound for Stockholm and ultimately Iran. His friends and family also arranged to fly to Stockholm and gathered in the departure lounge where they spoke to other passengers preparing to board the flight. Once on board the plane the other passengers refused to fasten their seat belts.

Ghalamere was taken to a migrant detention centre in Gavle, central Sweden, but the country's migration board insists nothing about his situation has changed.

Sanna Vestin, chairman of the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups (FARR), says: "No one who sees the family can doubt that it would harm the children to their father expelled."

Since being returned to the detention centre, Ghalamere has gone on hunger strike, and FARR have organised two demonstrations for today in Ostersund and Gavle.

"Now his case has received attention in the media – even in Iran itself – there is one more reason to reconsider the case," says Vestin. "The Migration Board can do [his hearing] over and do it right."

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