“Ghader Ghalamere is married in Sweden and has, besides his wife's older children, also two young children. He has every right to stay with them,” Photo: Facebook
BARCELONA, Spain – A planned deportation of an Iranian Kurd from Sweden to Iran was halted last week after passengers on the plane refused to fasten their seat belts, deterring the aircraft from taking off, in solidarity with the Kurdish man who feared reprisal if he returned to the Islamic Republic.
Sanna Vestin, chairwoman of the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups, FARR, said that family friends of the man to be deported, Ghader Ghalamere, were behind the move to stop the deportation.
Before the flight from the Swedish airport of Ostersund, they spoke to passengers in the departure lounge, others went to the runway to see what they could do, and yet others refused to fasten their seatbelts on the plane, Vestin added.
The airline was forced to offload Ghalamere from the plane. He was arrested, but released on Tuesday this week from a detention center in the town of Gavle. A lawyer with experience in Kurds asylum cases has volunteered to make a fresh application to the Swedish Migration Board, Vestin told Rudaw.
“Ghader Ghalamere is married in Sweden and has, besides his wife's older children, also two young children. He has every right to stay with them,” Vestin said.
In a statement to Rudaw, she explained that Ghalamere was a victim of bureaucratic detail, because by law his residence permit for family reasons must be sought from abroad, not from within Sweden. Swedish police had wanted him to obtain an Iranian passport from the Iranian Embassy in Norway, but he was denied for not being a Norwegian resident.
Swedish police then decided that he faced on threat by returning to Iran, and had placed on the plane for deportation.
But the incident on the plane, and the media attention from it, may have changed his fate.
“The Migration Board accepted to open a new case. I guess that the main reason was that the news spread on fundamentalist websites in Iran, pointing to Ghalamere as a terrorist who should be punished when coming back. After this, it is not possible for the Migration Board to assert that Ghalamere is of no actual interest to the Iran authorities,” said Vestin.
If Ghalamere returns to Iran he risks being penalized, at the very least for missing his mandatory, four-year military conscription. He also fears imprisonment or execution.
Ghalamere belonged to a Kurdish party which was persecuted in Iran. He fled to Turkey, where he was recognized as a refugee by the UN refugee agency UNHCR. But he did not get a residence permit because Turkey demands that that refugees be relocated to other countries by the UN. After waiting in Turkey for five years, he gave in and sought asylum in Sweden, but the application was turned down. Swedish authorities did not believe that Ghalamere was of any importance to Iranian authorities, the FARR statement said.
He chose Sweden to emigrate because his wife, Fatemeh, whom he had met in Turkey, lived there.
Ghalamere was released on Tuesday in time to join the demonstration planned for him by FARR in Gavle, were several hundred people took part. The local asylum group in Gavle cooperated with the group in Ostersund to arrange other demonstration.
Activists from “Aktion mot Deportation” also stood ready to arrange demonstrations at the international airport outside Stockholm in case police should make a new deportation attempt, said Vestin.
Campaigners have set up a Fecebook page ”Stoppa utvisningen av Ghader" to follow Ghalamere’s situation.
Some 100,000 Kurds live in Sweden, most of them from Iraq, Turkey and Syria.