Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave

Father-of-two’s family told them about his situation while in departure lounge – and they took the only action they could

A man facing deportation from Sweden has been granted a temporary reprieve after fellow passengers aboard his flight to Iran prevented it from taking off by refusing to fasten their seat belts.

A Kurd fearing persecution in his home country of Iran, Ghader Ghalamere fled the country years ago and now has two young children with his wife Fatemeh, a Swedish resident.

As a result he qualifies for a residence permit himself – yet because of a quirk in immigration laws he is required to apply for it from outside Sweden.

On Thursday, Mr Ghalamere was put on a flight at Östersund bound for Stockholm – and ultimately Iran itself – accompanied by his friends and family in protest.

Gathering in the departure lounge, they spoke to other passengers preparing to board the flight and explained the situation.

Clearly moved, once on board the plane the other passengers refused to fasten their seat belts – a protest that prevented the pilots from being able to begin take off.

With the flight unable to go ahead as scheduled, Mr Ghalamere was removed and taken to a migrant detention centre in Gävle, central Sweden – but the country’s migration board insists nothing about his situation has changed.

“It's enough now,” said Sanna Vestin, chairman of the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups (FARR). “No one who sees the family can doubt that it would harm the children to their father expelled.”

Ms Vestin, who has followed the family’s fate since the father contacted FARR a year ago, said police had asked Mr Ghalamere to travel to Norway to make his application for a Swedish passport from there.

After two weeks the attempt failed and he returned to Sweden empty-handed – but upon his arrival the family was told his trip had proven the children could survive in his absence, and the Migration Board ordered his deportation.

Mr Ghalamere first fled the prospect of torture and execution in Iran by travelling to Turkey, where he met Fatemeh and was granted refugee status by the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

After five years of failed attempts to find him a country that would take him from Turkey, Mr Ghalamere was finally able to reach Sweden.

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

Since being returned to the detention centre, Mr Ghalamere has gone on hunger strike, and FARR have organised two demonstrations for Tuesday in Östersund and Gävle.

Campaigners have also set up a Facebook group, stoppa utvisningen av ghader, which has around 4,000 members.

Ms Vestin said: “It is gratifying that so many people have lined up. Sweden has undertaken to defend the rights of children and the right of asylum. When the authorities cannot do it on their own, others have to take responsibility when we get the chance.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
news
News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
books...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Recruitment Genius: Print / Warehouse Operative

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Assistant

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Anna Woodward: German Speaking Accountant

£45,000: Anna Woodward: My client is aleading global manufacturer and service ...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower