This story is amazing. A refugee facing deportation was saved by perfect strangers on a plane.

Mr Ghalamere was saved by perfect strangers.

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For the next four weeks we’ll be bringing you a little dose of good news. Sometimes when we turn on the TV, radio or open a newspaper, it feels like everything in the world is just sad and wrong. But there are pockets of delight and happiness, which we’ll be uncovering and bringing to you.

This story will restore your faith in humanity.

A man facing deportation was granted an (unofficial) temporary reprieve, when fellow passengers on board his flight out of the country refused to fasten their seat belts in solidarity.

Ghader Ghalamere, a Kurdish man fearing persecution in his home country of Iran, fled that country years ago – scared for his safety. He was running from the threat of torture and execution in Iran, and was granted refugee status by the UN’s High Commissioner of Refugees when he reached Turkey. That is also where he met his wife, and after waiting five years to find a home somewhere else in the world, the couple were resettled in Sweden.

He now lives in Sweden, with his wife Fatemah and his two young children.

Mr Ghalamere actually qualifies for a residence permit but due to a bizarre quirk in the laws, he cannot apply for residency from inside Sweden. He has to apply for residency from another country.

And that is how Mr Ghalamere found himself put on a flight last Thursday bound for Iran – the country he had fled years before. His friends and family were with him, to provide support.

In the departures lounge, Mr Ghalamere and his family got talking to the other passengers waiting for the plane. The family explained why there were so many of them there, travelling together. They answered questions the other passengers had about Mr Ghalamere’s life before he came to Sweden.


They spoke of the love Mr Ghalamere had for his family.

And then, when the time came to board the plane and prepare for take off – the rest of the passengers on board the flight refused to fasten their seatbelts.

The plane was not able to leave the ground. The flight was cancelled.

Sometimes perfect strangers – like those people on Mr Ghalamere’s flight – will do what they can to help, too.

As he was not able to be deported, Mr Ghalamere was taken straight to a migrant detention centre in central Sweden. Although the migration board insists that nothing in Mr Ghalamere’s situation has changed, Sanna Vestin the chairman of the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups says, “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 and do it right.”

The migration board’s decision to expel Mr Ghalamere from the country seems even more heartbreaking when one considers that previously the board suggested he travel to and arrange his citizenship from Norway and gave him two weeks to do so. Mr Ghalamere did indeed travel to Norway but was not successful in making his application for a Swedish passport from there.

Once he returned, the board told Mr Ghalamere that his two-week absence proved that his children could survive without him… and ordered his deportation.

Sanna Vestin disagrees, saying, “No one who sees the family can doubt that it would harm the children to have their father expelled.”

But the family’s fight is not over. They are arranging protests. Demonstrations are being held in Sweden.

And sometimes perfect strangers – like those people on Mr Ghalamere’s flight – will do what they can to help.

That’s the power of human compassion.

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It’s hard to hide when you’re happy inside.