Refugee Ghalamere forced to return to Iran
Refugee Ghalamere forced to return to Iran by Swedish migration authorities.Facebook

A flight destined for Iran never made it off the tarmac at a Swedish airport when passengers on board protested over the deportation of Kurdish refugee Ghader Ghalamere who was due to be sent home on the same flight.

Ghalamere fled Iran in 2012 and settled as a refugee in Sweden with his wife Fatemeh (a Swedish resident) and two children.

Despite qualifying for a residency permit - Swedish immigration laws demand that he formally applies for it outside Sweden - he was put on the Stockholm flight at Östersund. The aircraft would ultimately have returned him to Iran.

Angry passengers refused to fasten their seatbelts in protest at his treatment and prevented the pilots from being able to take off.

Ghalamere has been given a temporary reprieve. He is being housed at the migrant detention centre in Gavle, central Sweden.

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

His deportation order to Iran was prompted when he failed to get residency while he was in Norway for two weeks. Sweden's Migration Board ruled that the trip had proved that his children could survive in his absence.

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

Ghalamere fled the threat 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.

After five years of failed attempts to find him a country from Turkey he was finally able to reach Sweden.

Since his return to the detention centre, 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, which has around 4,000 members.

Vestin added: "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."