About Refugees, By Refugees
Trigger Warning: Torture
First of all, I want to ask you about your current situation. Tell me, what are the conditions in which you live? Who do you live with? How do you spend your time? Do you work?
I live in a camp in the Netherlands with my Bengali friends, I feel comfortable.
How do you spend your time?
I spend my time studying and talking to my family.
What is your field of study?
I’ve studied law in Syria.
Are you currently working?
I’m not working.
What are the things that make you happy?
A person should always remember the circumstances surrounding him, such as security and safety, because they are the most important thing.
What are the pros and cons of living in the Netherlands?
On the positive side, I am happy to have achieved my dream of living in Netherlands, as I have lived in Turkey for about 5 years, and at that time I was planning to go to the Netherlands, so that I can complete my studies and to fulfill my dream, which is making detainees’ voices in Syria heard, God willing I will be able to do this.
Tell me, how do you feel as you are away from your family and home?
It is a feeling I can’t describe.
What is your feeling as you don’t belong to the Netherlands? Can you describe it?
This hasn’t been an obstacle for me. The circumstances here are really good.
This means you can adapt.
Yes, I always adapt.
Did you imagine in the past that you could deal with this situation? How did you pass it?
What I’ve been through made me able to adapt to this situation, the circumstances that made me leave my country, and be exposed to many racist situations, in Lebanon and Turkey. It is the circumstances that we are forced into, are the ones that changed us.
How has Corona affected you, your daily life and your mood?
Certainly, Corona has affected us greatly and our studies because everything around us is closed, due to the spread of the disease, but we are forced to endure these conditions.
What is your feeling now?
In fact, the Netherlands is the first country that supports human rights, so I feel stable, safe and secure.
Why have you left your country?
I was studying law and I reached the fourth year of college in Syria, but I was arrested on 8/8/2015, due to my university specialization. My friends and I were arrested for about 48 days, that’s why I’ve left my country.
What was your feeling when you were arrested?
It was an indescribable feeling. On the day of my detention, I was surprised by what was happening in the Syrian Regime prisons. My eyes were covered when I entered the prison. I didn’t see anything, I only heard voices of arrested women and men. In one of the interrogations, they initially took me out of the prison cell in which there were about 100 people. When I got out of the prison cell, I saw naked women and men. They were beaten and tortured. It was an indescribable scene, and I was also tortured inside, they broke my spine during the torture period.
Thank God for your safety.
Thank you. Thank God anyway, I was able to get out of the prison. My cousin and I were imprisoned, and a number of males and females who were university students. I knew nothing about them. My family contacted a young man from the same neighborhood in which we live, so that they could pay 12 thousand dollars to get me out of the prison, but after leaving the prison, I heard news of my cousin’s death in the prison due to torture. In addition, I do not know what happened to my friends who were imprisoned.
Well, how was your trip to the Netherlands? Was it a difficult experience? Can you tell me about it?
It was a very difficult experience for me as I had poor health conditions. I had 7 back operations, screws and plates were installed to fix my spine. When I got out of Turkey To Greece, I was arrested 7 times and returned each time to Turkey. As we crossed the river, our inflatable boat overturned, resulting in many cases of sinking. I and other survivors stayed for almost 27 days in an agricultural area between Turkey and Greece, with no place to sleep and without anything. It was very difficult to get out of this area. It took 6 months to get from Greece to Serbia. Conditions were very bad, we had no water or food. We stayed for a long time without eating or drinking anything. It takes a lot to reach the Netherlands, So reaching it has become a dream. Fortunately, it has come true.
Have you ever imagined that you would live in those conditions and be able to deal with them?
No, I haven’t. Imagining those conditions was impossible. Once I got stuck in a truck from below, I was about to die. I’ve never imagined that I might pay my life to get to the Netherlands.
How did you survive?
We were exposed to many difficult and dangerous situations on the road. For example, we stayed two whole days without water. At that time, we thought we would undoubtedly die, but thank God we have passed these days.
What were your dreams before the war started?
I told you earlier that I was studying law in the Department of International Law in my country, Syria. I had a certificate of work experience in hairdressing. I was working and studying at the same time, so my dream was to finish my studies and start working, to help people with legal issues.
What is your feeling now?
I’m happy here in the Netherlands because it is the country that welcomed us and gave us the rights we dreamed of in Syria, and God willing we can return the favor to it.
What are you looking for now?
I’m looking to finish my study, so that I can make the voice of the oppressed detainees who are being tortured in the Syrian Regime prisons heard.
What were your strength’s sources when you were living in your country and have you been able to preserve them after leaving it?
Yes, what were the sources that used to make you feel strong in Syria?
In Syria, my father was my only source of strength. He was a strong man, exemplary and had a good reputation among people.
What are your dreams for the future?
Now my only dream is to complete my studies, to be able to start a family, and to live in peace and stability, that’s all I want.
I really appreciate your answers to the questions. Finally, is there anything you would like to add to help people who are coming to Europe? In other words, can you give advice to new refugees?
For new refugees coming from the Turkish border, it is better not to bring women or children, because we have passed through very difficult circumstances that women and children will not be able to bear, such as very cold weather, interruption of water and food, and other difficulties I’ve mentioned earlier.
Well, thank you very much.