This essay is translated from an interview with Farzad Shafahi Bengal by Rengin Arslan from BBC Turkish:
Since the beginning of last year, more than a million refugees have reached the Greek islands. About one-third of the refugees were Afghans who traveled from one side of the Aegean to the other since the beginning of this year.
Altough the conflicts between Afghan and Taliban security forces are going on, European countries and Turkey do not see the Afghanistan as an active conflict area.
In accordance with refugee agreement between EU and Turkey which encountered by the reaction of human rights organizations, the refugees were sent from Greece to Turkey will be accepted if only they are Syrian. The ones who are not Syrian will be sent back to their country.
Farzad Shafahi an Afghan living in Turkey. He has tried to cross Europe twice in 2010 and 2013. Both were caught and sent back. He is afraid to try one more time. If he is caught, he is afraid to be sent to his country, which he said „the cradle of war “ like the others. Farzad told BBC Turkish about his extraordinary story between the borders.
I am 25 years old. I have no one on earth. My parents, my dad, my sister, my relatives. No one.
I have no identity on earth. There is not even a record of my being born except that I breathe. Neither Afghanistan nor Iran. The most definite thing I know about myself is the year of my birth: 1991.
A decade ago my father escaped from the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan with my mother. If he had not escaped, he would have been killed. I was born in Zahidan in a border town in Iran. I’ve been an asylum seeker and a warfare since I opened my eyes. I guess I will stay so until I close to my eyes.
We lived in Iran until 2010. But we did not have the identity because we could not afford the money for the identity papers in Iran.
I had only my father and sister in my life. My mother died while she was giving birth to my sister.I do not remember anything . I was 2 years old. But later on, they told me that they could not take her to hospital and she died.
Last time I saw my father and my sister in Tehran. One day they went out and I waited a lot but they did not come back. Afghans who are out of record in Iran are constantly searched and arrested and taken away. I applied everywhere but I have not heard from them for 6 years.
I decided to leave Iran. I could not go back to Afghanistan. It was a country that I did not know, that I did not see and there was a war there. I could even call it “the cradle of war”. As long as I know myself, there was blood, war and massacre there.
„We were beaten as it was a good deed.“
We were also immigrants in Iran. The Iranians did not like the Afghans. They saw us as responsible for every bad thing that happened to them. If a bird falls to the ground, Iranians says that an Afghan has killed it.
Swearing, insults, beatings. If you are Afghan anyone whoever just pass by you on the street can beat you in Iran. We were beaten as it was a good deed. I still have scars.
That’s why I decided to come to Turkey. I could not enter from the legal roads because I had no ID. I had to pay human smugglers, but I had no money. I told them that my father was in Turkey, he said he would give the money there. At the end of 2010 when I was 2010, I entered Turkey from the border with Iran over the back of a small truck covered with canvas that was set by smugglers.This was the first border I passed. But it will not be the last.
They took us to another bus in Viransehir.Then we came to Esenler central bus station. The Turks landed. The bus would deliver us to the connection of smuggler in ten minutes. But I landed with the Turks in Esenler. Because I had to give money to the smuggler to deliver us. But there was no money and no father who could give money. I would have suffered anyway. I had five or ten Turkish lira in my pocket. I came to 4th Levent with that money. I sat somewhere and everthing was uncertain. I had no place to stay,nothing to drink or eat. But at least there was no fear of the Taliban. There was no war. That’s why I was relieved.
„There is no life here for us“
I did research before I came from Iran. I knew that there was the United Nations office here. I found their place in Istanbul. When I went there , they registered me in the department of children. I was 19 years old when I arrived there but I did not know the language and there was no translator, so they wrote my age 15.They placed me in Yeldeğirmeni Child Protection Dormitory in October, 2010.The time that I spent in that dormitory, was the my best time in Turkey.
Two months later I left the country to escape to Greece. That time there was a thing that everyone was saying that If an Afghan or an African is still in Turkey it means that they have no money to give to smugglers. Since I first came, I heard the words „There is no life here for us, no future“. That time it was just a rumor for me, by the time they all became real. Because I personally lived it.
Return Center : I hated because I was a human being
In the 2011 New Year I entered Return Center(This is a place where refugees who have no right to stay legally wait for deportation) in Turkey.I tried to escape, but I got caught. I stayed in the return center for 1 month.
The treatment there … I hated myself because I was a human being, after I was faced the treatment there. I wished I could die. As a result, I did not choose to be born as a refugee.
Swearing, beating … I was slapped because I was sick. I could not breathe, I wanted to see a doctor. They came, they took me. They examined and gave me treatment.Finally I was good with the treatments, but I could not forget the slap I got when I was in that situation. I committed suicide at the Return Center. I’ve had a lot of drugs to die. They had barely taken me to the hospital on time. They washed my stomach. I did not know Turkish that time, I could not express myself. But even in that case, I was handcuffed when they were taking me to the children department. I never forgot about that handcuff.
I returned to Yeldeğirmeni Child Protection Dormitory and stayed there for about two years after that. The staff was very good. But it is not the same in all of the dormitories.
‚Then I am Christian‘
At the end of 2012, I was transferred to another dormitory in Nevşehir. There was sectarian discrimination and racism. When I first entered the country, the first question they asked was „what is your religion, what is your sect?“. An officer there asked this question among the students at the dining hall. I got really angry. I said „Why do you ask? Are you going to act according to my religion? Then I said “ I am Christian.“ I said it altough I was a Muslim. I’ve gotten very harsh reactions from everybody there.
My Turkish was good and I have sent my complaints about this dormitory with a petition. They wanted to get rid of me.They made me to do a bone examination. When they figured out that i was older, they kicked me out.
I slept on the streets. Then I decided to go to Europe by passing the Bulgarian border. I stayed overnight in forest, but I got caught and stayed in a Return Center for another month.
Then I spent one year in Nevşehir as a translator in the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Immigrants. It was the only year that I made money, that I had no trouble. Then I left when I was no longer needed.
Sleeping at parks
During these years many times I was broke and homeless. I have been sleeping in Gezi Park in Istanbul for weeks. I slept in Güven Park in Ankara. In order to motivate myself, I laughed and said „What do you want more, You are in a trip when you are in Gezi Park in Istanbul and You are in safe when you are in Güven Park in Ankara“( Here here applys the meaning of words that Gezi means trip, Güven means safe). I had no money even to buy water.
Today I am looking at the Syrians … There have been people swearing me because they thought I am Syrian. I can see that they hate Syrians with my naked eyes. They are using such idioms for Syrians like “Living a life of ease”.
They blame us for the wars. One day a police officer told me, „Why are you running away from your country? You are the traitor, If you would not be a traitor, you would not escape from your country. You would fight there, you would die there. “ Now they tell the same to the Syrians.
I would rather die than return to Afghanistan
I am studying here but this does not promise me a future. I can not marry if you want to get married because of the regulations.If I want to work, the employer can not get permission for me because I do not have passport. How can a person stay such a place where he does not have any future.
I would rather die than being sent back to Afghanistan. Nobody can send me back to Afghanistan alive. I promised this to myself. It’s better to die here than to fall into the hands of the Taliban and being raped in Afghanistan. They started sending us back now. They call us “economic refugees”. Like my country is bed of roses. It just feels like we come only because of hunger and money.
My family has escaped to survive, not because of money. They also call refugees from Iraq “economic refugees”. The bombs are exploding there.Giving the name of an economic refugees when they even do not know If they will be able to return home again or no. It’s only because this discourse serves their purpose.
Do you even think that a person would face up to drowning in the sea just because he is hungry? When I came here, I thought that at least there are human rights there and there are people who advocate this. I saw people advocating human rights here, but I did not see regulations, laws, advocating human rights. I saw regulation trying to get people’s rights from their hands.
Even for one day there would not be bomb explotions in Afghanistan and Iraq..
There is only one word that explains all these things happened “despair”. This is the greatest tragedy of mankind. Something very painful comes to my mind. And it is how cheap our lives are. It would be very strange for people If one day that there would not be a bomb explodes in Afghanistan and 50 people would not die in a day. It is so normal that there are deaths every day there.
I am now a student at university but I have no dreams for myself. I am here because of the people I met during the protests we made in Ankara in 2014. My diplomas from the school that is associated with the Afghan ambassador which I went when I was in Iran were accepted here. I got into the exam and passed it. I am now studying Sociology at Pamukkale University.
When I chose sociology, there was one thing in my mind. I have no dreams for myself anymore. I can not imagine for myself anymore. My name is Farzad Shafahi and my name does not have a value. I imagined that 20-30 years later If I add “Prof. Dr.” in front of my name, I may have right to say a word and help people like me. Why not?