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Letters to the world from Ritsona (No.13)

60 years resistant

Letters to the wrold from Ritsona
Neda Torabi

I had a simple life before I was forced to become a refugee. Mine was a small family with sweet dreams for the future. It was a united and loving family, caring and soothing each other with words, with affection, with smiles, with encouragement.These, not medicines, were the cures for our wounds, physical or emotional. And then, a revolution overturned our life, like a dark and menacing cloud after a sunny day. When two of my brothers were killed by the Taliban, we lost our security,safety and our shelter,

Those killings raised the alarm for all members of that house. Like a bomb they drove each member of the family into a corner. The power of the Taliban over the area we were living was increasing and so was their blind violence. So we had no other option but to leave our home, a house that was a shelter for 30 people, a huge, old and traditional house — a house we loved. Two of my brothers turned to internal immigration and went to Kabul, but for the rest of my family that was not an option. Our only hope was to go to Iran. So, we plucked our courage and after collecting all we had, I immigrated with my daughters and two sons and my grand children. We faced many hardships during our clandestine travels, but I had the power of my family with me, they were all with me, and we were sharing our strength with each other.

Iran, could never become like my homeland, and could never give me the feeling of home, country, compatriots. It was a place to only live, but without dignity, respect – a place which also made us reflect and understand that we have rights, and are not only slaves of the state, to work and generate economic profits for the government. My daughters got married there and built a small family, in a small house. Yet they could never make it a safe and pleasant world for their children. All were discriminated, segregated, even the children playing when they were in primary school. And once they finished with primary school they were excluded from any higher education.

It is suffocating for any parent to see the education of their children be limited to a specific duration of time, to a specific age and to a specific level of learning, and, as a consequence, the only thing that would be demanded from them would be their physical labour, not their mind, their talents and their ingenuity.

Life in a country like Iran is not easy or simple for any family. And so it was for my own family, especially since my husband had to work for 8 long years, in spite of his weak physical condition and, in the end, his accident.

Iran just left me the worst possible memories and we were not able to build a bright future. I could not allow my children and grand children have the same fate as my husband. So once again, with pressures from all sides, we had to decide to continue our journey to another country in order to make sure that we will not face the same problems we had faced here.

For me, there was no hope for a good life elsewhere. However, I accepted to venture elsewhere only to see my children and grandchildren live in peace. My husband died and my brothers were murdered. My body was getting weaker and weaker everyday and insulin was my only painkiller taking the measure of my breath and of my life — counting the number of days I would be alive.

You know, you are reading the words of a 60- year old woman who has experienced many difficulties, but has never given up, not because I was born strong, but because I had strong reasons to be strong.

I am a mother and a grand mother. The responsibility of those roles increased when my son’s wife died while birthing her first child. Once more, I was attacked by life, and this continued. I faced too many different sorts of hardships, bringing up my grandchild, who could never forget his mother’s smell, his mother’s love and his mother’s embrace. I was convinced that, in Iran, we would not be able to build and start a new life and make a decent future. So, we managed to control our fears and start our journey towards Europe crossing valleys and mountains, hot deserts and, finally, the angry sea.

In the end we reached Moria, where young people could not tolerate the conditions for more than a month. I was there for 3 months, My son was arrested by the police because he participated in a demonstration, asking for democracy with thousand more people.

 He is currently passing the hardest days in prison. No one defends him, no one claims his rights. There were many people in that demonstration. Yet, only my son was arrested, because the others were silent and did not attack the police. I realize now that I did not only risk the value of my life coming here, but also the unity of my family, which broke.

I am a woman, whose body is consumed by insulin and whose heart is consumed by the pains and injuries of my soul. I am left with many injures, with many pains and many wounds and many unaccompanied children without guardian. Having all these responsibilities is really heavy for me, and today when I feel myself weaker than ever, I realize that I am not the only one who is suffering all these pains, but I do not have anyone with whom I can share my words and can express my feelings. I am repressed, limited, in prison and banned, not by the fences around Ritsona, but by medicine and mental problems.

My son is in Prison, in Moria. My husband#s grave is in Iran. My grand children are without parents. My brothers grave is in Afghanistan. And I am here left on my own, and, on top of it, exposed to the corona virus. How many days may I stay alive? Here is not a place where I can breathe. My grand children’s life is sinking in discrimination, even about their education. All these problems are suffocating me, they do not let me breathe.

How long will I be able to knit , using cottons of jackets and save some money for my medicine and fruits , that  I need to eat after using such strong medicines, how much more washclothes will I be able to made and sale with my weak hands, while my health is getting worse everyday , to collect the wanted amount from police station in Lesvos to release my son form jail.

Will I feel peace and respect during the last days of my life?

Will I see my children and grand children in a bright future?

Will I be treated as a women who has experience of 60 years of life, not a immigrant?

Will my son be reunited with me and his child?

Will I be able to rest ?

Letters to the world from Ritsona (No.12)

“In a world of war”, where can we find safety?

We escaped from far away lands, lands of war, violence and misery. We came here so that our children would not have to see the violence we had witnessed.

We passed the borders of life and death in search of safety and shelter. We put our lives in the mercy of smugglers and strangers to help us cross rocky mountains, deep valleys, deserts and, at the end, the angry sea. Europe was the light which kept us going. Europe was the promise of a new life at the end of the journey.

Yet, what we are experiencing, here and now, is the threat of a dark and unknown future for us, our children and the next generations.

Where can we find safety? This is, for us, the most vulnerable moment in our lives, a moment for which we had not been prepared. We have never, before, lived together with different communities, each with a different culture, different religion and beliefs, different customs, different histories. What we share is that we all crossed borders which left us with injuries, injuries in our bodies and, even more difficult to treat, injuries in our souls. Our life as refugees is filled with anxiety and mental stress. The process of reviewing our
application for asylum; our worries about our beloved ones left behind and living in danger; the future of our children which is wasted as they have no opportunity to go to school; our transfers from one camp to another, from detentions to ghettos , all create fears, worries, anger and frustration. No wonder that chaos and violence break in the camps.

No one who arrives here enjoys mental health, even the physically sound ones are suffering of depression and other psychological difficulties. And even if those arriving are free of such symptoms, once here and as the months of waiting go by, they soon feel vulnerable and exposed, anxious and afraid.

In such an atmosphere, a small event can provoke negative feelings, even violence among different groups. It is enough to have a child throw a stone to another from another community and, soon enough, there is suspicion and hatred between the two groups. Similar feelings are generated if, for example, a child falls from its bicycle as another, belonging to another community, is passing by.

Such events may seem minor and insignificant. Yet such events have had terrible consequences. People arm themselves with sticks, knives, bats because they feel they may be attacked and need to feel that they can defend themselves and their families. Even our fathers and brothers pile us things ,that they can use to defend us. Women collect stones for their men so that they can protect them.

How could it be otherwise, when 2500 people are piled together, even now that we are facing a new ferocious threat, the Corona Virus. The form that ‘our safety quarantine’ takes is imprisonment We are forced to live in closed ‘facilities’ even as the number of infected people among us is rising.

When violence breaks and we call the police, no one answers, no one
interferes.

I am afraid I can be caught in this violence, this war. I am afraid that I may injure someone, that I may lose my belief in people and in the possibility of peace in our lives. And I am afraid of what can happen to my father and brothers and I am tired of seeing my mother cry or hear people scream.

Where can we find safety? Surely not when we are locked up, repressed, hidden in a far away and isolated camp. Nobody sees us, nobody cares, nobody understands that the life of our children having no schooling is wasted in idleness. Yet we have dreams of becoming doctors, engineers, teachers. . .

But how long…..?
How long should we witness violence?
How long should we arm ourselves for protection?
How long should we suffer anxiety and depression?
How long should our children carry stones instead of books and pencils?
How long should we waste away, facing total indifference about our future?
How long should we be targeted as deserving repression?

 

Letters to the world from Ritsona (No:9)

Can you imagine your self ?

15/07/2020

Imagine being an asylum seeker , seeking for your asylum application everywhere!

Imagine yourself in long queues to get food, to see a doctor, to go to the toilet, to have a wash, to have access to the taps for water to wash your clothes.

Imagine yourself calling for help while your tent is burning with no help coming to the rescue!

Imagine that you are a young muslim refugee girl, who cannot find safety anywhere, while school and education are becoming unreachable dreams for her and is fighting for all her rights.

Yeah, we struggled tolerating all those difficulties that we are facing even now when our voices and our rights are repressed and our existence is trapped. We have never been treated equally either before the pandemic or even now during the pandemic in spite of the so much used slogan: “We are, in this, together”.

When we are forced to stay home, because of unfounded and unproven diagnosis of corona virus cases, while tourists from other countries are welcome: when, in spite of this call “to stay home”, we are evicted from our homes, we demand freedom of action. But, that too we cannot have.

We, refugees, are always fighting to have our fundamental rights, which should be given naturally as we belong to the humankind, like you and all other people.We are fighting with words, with protests in the camps, until our voices be heard.

Although we have struggled until now and continue at this moment, the built up of pressures is becoming unbearable. We will not be able to continue our struggle alone.

We need your fists to be raised for us, not against us!

We are trying to survive, and you can stand in solidarity by our side. Our geographical origins distinguish us from each other, and it is a general human condition that there are things that some have and others do not. But there is one thing that all humans have, from the day of their birth to the day of their death, even during the pandemic: we have rights, basic human rights. As refugees we also have a right to education, a right to health, a right to hygiene, a right to food and a right to a safe life. We are refugees and if we cannot find safety here, then the concept “safety “ becomes meaningless.

We will never let others take away our right to freedom of movement, our right to freedom of action, to freedom of raising our voices .

And, if you stay silent against what is happening to us, then it means that you condone it and that it should continue.

If you stay silent against this crisis, then you are a cause of that.

If you stay silent against what we are suffering, it means we deserve such suffering.

Do you agree?

This silence will decide the value of our lives.

Parwana  Amiri (migratorygirl)

Special thanks to : Sonia Vlachou and solidarian collectivities in ionnina greece, who invited and supported .

Letters to the world from Ritsona (No:8)

Europe must act

Congratulations to the European Union! To the European Commission! To the European Council! Congratulations also to all the European citizens for your 70th anniversary of alliance. We, however, are not able to celebrate and participate in your jubilation, as your crises and differences have left us behind, alone with all our difficulties and the unbearable conditions of our lives.

Yet we live in the same land as many other European citizens, in the land of one member of the European Union: Greece. We have never thought that, in a country of Europe, we will face such a fate that human dignity itself loses its meaning and that human freedom is ignored, forgotten.

12 golden stars in your flag surround our life and imprison our freedom.

27 country members keep silent, no matter how loud and how desperate our calls for help are.

Our children are suffering hunger and we are all facing absolute deprivation, condemned not to ever live a peaceful and normal life. We are denied education, health care, housing, employment – all those things a citizen rightfully expect.

Dinghy” may be a noun, but we put our lives in one and came here. We were lucky. So many others lose their lives in such dinghies. Nobody knows their names, they are just numbers counted by coast guards and authorities.

Since all members of the European Union are responsible to solve this crisis, why are we totally alone? Why are our lives becoming toys in economical games? Not only our lives suffer from those economical games; the lives of local people are equally affected. We are not the only group of residents suffering. Like us, local people, see their lives, their dignity, their humanity given less importance than the economy. Unlike them, however, we are also denied freedom. It makes no difference whether we live in the streets, under tents, in hotels, in constructed facilities, in containers, in homes. Even a castle becomes a prison when you don’t have freedom.

When I was at school, we learned, from our books, that freedom was inseparable from Europe, that where Europe was, there was freedom too. Yet what I experience here, in this European country, is totally different from what I learned from my books, back in my country. Freedom is just an adjective for Europe, it carries no meaning, no essence. In order to achieve a peaceful life, we escaped from our countries and our homes, but in doing so we lost our dignity.

If we are in prisons; if we are in danger; if we are in need; if we are in deprivation; Europe must act!

If we are trapped; if we are vulnerable; if we are forced to silence; if we are discriminated;

Europe must act!

If we are totally alone; if we are kept far away; if we are struggling; if we are asylum seekers;

Europe must act!

If we are human beings; if we lost our dignity; if we lost our self-respect; if we live like prisoners;

Europe must act!

Europe must act because our fate and our problems are an inseparable part of Europe.

Europe must act because if we lose our dignity, Europe will lose its own too.

Migratirygirl(Parwana Amiri)