Ahmad’s Story

aufgeschrieben aus Anlass des Volkstrauertages am 13.11.2016

Leaving home is not that easy for me, it means leaving my parents, childhoods home and the place where I learnt my first letters. It means also leaving memories which I had at my university, it means getting far away from my friends and my work. It means leaving everything which my heart related to.

But before running away from Syria and in middle of March 2011 the peaceful popular protests overcame Syria asking for freedom and the end of Assad’s regime. I participated in the peaceful demonstrations and I wrote many reports about what was happening in Syria to be published and I contacted under a faked name with many means of media to talk about what is happening in Syria.

But the syrian regime discovered me and in the night of 4th.March-2014 tweenty armed security men of the syrian forces broke into my house, beated me and took my personal properties like computer, all my documents and guided me to one of the security police station, and there I was tortured and forced to say obligatory confessions. I was tortured by the electrical cables, cold water and I was beated on my feet and on my back, and this was just the beginning of a misereble year of torturing which I spent it in various security branches of the syrian regime in Damascus; this year started by taking me to a secret prison that was about twenty-five meters underground where there is no sun, no fresh air, or even food and medicine. There we were not allowed to use the toilet more than some seconds and who get late, was tortured.

There I spent my days in a room which is full of prisoners. and where each person has just a place of about 60 cm where he should sit, eat and sleep in it. In this prison also the doctor came once a week, but anyway nobody had the courage to say that he is sick because he could be tortured instead of getting treatment. We were suffering from hunger there was no food. We were given just small piece of hard bread and two spoons of rice during the whole day. We were sleeping on a bare ground without any blankets or clothes to protect us from cold.

I saw alot of people who were killed and nobody of their family knew any thing about them and other lost their body parts because of tortue or sickness. Most of the prisoners wished to be dead, to not stay in this horrible place. Detainees had no specific charges. Many of them had been arrested because they were from towns that had many demonstrations against the Assad regime.

Later on and after about nine months I was transferred to a civilian prison and there my dream fullfilled to see the sun again. I could see the sun again, the sun which represent to me the freedom again after that I had a court where the judge released me by paying a big amount of money as a bail. I came out of prison, Iwas exhausted, not able to walk or move and even to talk as I was born again. I learned again how to walk and speak.

After I had treatments of my sickness I decised to get out of Syria and travel because I was under the threat of getting back to jail and re-arrest again after losing a year of my life in the prison and losing my job.

In 28/12/2014 I left the family home, I said goodbey to my parents and my brothers. I did not tell my friends, so that I can travel secretly. I put my bag on my back which I have in it my personal decuments and my valid passport which I could not renew it because I am not allowed to travel outside the country. I run away, leaving everything behind me my parents, friends and my memories, I run away from the danger of death and into the unknown, the unknown which represent to me the life.

My journey started, I got into a car with somebody who hepled me to arrive an areas which is under the control of the free syrian army. My journey from the south of Syria to the north of Syria was full of dangers, I had to pay money to the regime forces in every checkpoints I faced till I arrived Homs, I was afraid in this stage of my journey to be arrested again by the Syrian forces.

Finelly I arrived the liberated areas as the syrian people called it, but the danger was not less, because these areas were under the air raids by the Syrian regime. Everything was destroyed there the homes and the schools. The streets were empty of their people except the armed rebels.

Then we came near the region which is under the control of IS, the women who were sitting in the bus with me turn back to sit in the back seats and they all put covers on their faces while the men sit in front of the bus. and there we entered the most dangerous region in the world where I see the black flags every where. While we were passing the first barrier of the IS territories a huge man with a short dress came into the bus, he was speaking high Arabic. He seems to be not Syrian and he started to check our identify cards and he asked us about the reasons of our coming here and my answer was that I have some relatives in “Raqa city”. He asked me again if have cigarettes, I told him that I do not smoke and I do not have any cigarettes.

But he found cigarettes with a young man. so the IS forces took him out of the bus and arrested him. Our bus continue in its way and I asked the people who were with me in the bus about the fate of this man who was arrested by the IS. They told me that he should attend a course in Sharia law that is made by IS for 15 days and if he pass the test he will be freed again.

Then I get on another car to go to Aleppo, when I arrived there; I saw the situation there was very strange, I saw different faces from foreign different countries. Most of them were not syrian nobody in the streets in the prayer times .I arrived to a house in the countryside of Aleppo in the village of Manbij waiting for a smuggler who will take me to the borders of Turkey. I stayed there for three days with a syrian family, this family was nice and we talked about the situation in Aleppo. They said that IS and the Assad regime are two sides of the same coin. It means Assad regime terrify us by security forces and its intelligence and the IS terrify us by Sharia s law. So in both cases you should do whatever they order you to do it and if you do not obey them they will arrest, torture or kill you.

Three nights that I spent them there were horrible. In the fourth night the weather was very cold and rainy I started my journey again with a smuggler who helped me to arrive Turkey on our way armed men of IS stopped us again. The smuggler told me that it was the last IS checkpoints we face. The armed men asked me about the reason of going to Turkey. I told them that I have some relatives there. Then we entered the territories that under the control of the islamic front army. There I saw many checkpoints, a lot of armed manifestations amid the rubble of homes and destroyed life we passed it till we arrived the Turkish border, the weather was rainy and the ground is muddy. About two hundred Syrian gathered in the border between Syria and Turkey. We waited till the sun set and then we started as small groups among them children and women, trying to pass the turkish border but we failed many times because of the shootings of Turkish border guards.

In the fifth attempt I finally successed to cross the ditch between the two countries. I entered the Turkish border then I heard the voices of Turkish guards who demanded us to stop. We were running quickly with the fear of shooting us or catching us and be beated. Finally I was in “Kilis city” in Turkey with a lot of Syrians. It was New Year, this was the first time I received the new year lonly, mudy with fear feelings. I went to the bus station and I booked a ticket to Istanbul; I did not know why Istanbul, I ddi not know anybody in Turkey. The streets in the way were full of snow, I wished that new year could be a white year in my life.

After thirteen hours I arrived Istanbul; I spent the first night in one of the bus stops and then I went to look for a place to sleep in it; I contacted with one of my friends who had told me before that he know somebody in Istanbul, he helped me to contact with this person who helped me later to rent a single bed in a room which was inhabited by five people. I considered myself lucky because I found a bed to sleep in it after a year that I spent in jail. I had to search for a job and work to pay the rent of the bed and the cost of the food. I searched for a job in the syrian organizations which were in Turkey but I could not find any becuase I should have a job permission and residence permission, but I do not have any, it was impossible for me to do that because I arrived Turkey in illegel way. Then I found a full time job from 8 am till 8 pm in Turkish factories as a“ black job“ with a very low salary which was not enough to buy food.

Illustration 1: Shoes factory in Istanbul that I worked in it

The summer came, the voyages to Greece started to transport the illegal immigrants to Europe. I decided to travel to Europe, I headed to Izmir the coastal city. The city was full of Syrians and other nationalities, everyone is looking for a small place in an inflatable boat to get to Greece beaches.

Illustration 2: The house that the smuggler gathered the immgrants in it in Azmir

I have an agreement with a smuggler to take me to Greece. He gathered a group of syrians in a house .We were waiting from morning till evening then a large truck came to take us , we were forbidden to talk in the big truck. after two hours, we arrived a beach, fifty person, among them ten children, got into the rubber boat after paying 1100 dollars per person to the smuggler.

Illustration 3: while we were in a boat heading to Greece

The boat launched towards Greece and before we arrived to the territorial water of Greece, the Turkish coast guards called us by microphone to stop, they pumped us by water and they shooted the rubber boat till it sank down and they started to save us and picked us from water. They put us in a big ship, we were wet and we left our bags behind us in the see.

Illustration 4: we were arrested by Turkish coast gaurds after the sunk of our boat

In the second attempt, the engine of the rubber boat stopped in the middle of the sea for an hour, it started to sink. All the people in the boat were tense, children and the women were crying, some of them were praying in the middle of darkness we tried to contact with the Greece Red Cross but it did not know our location then a big ship passed by our boat and called the Turkish caost gaurds which it came to save us and turn us back to Turkey. Unfortunately, we tried five times untill we could arrive Greece. After a month of trying I reached Samos island in the early morning, it was like a dream. The island was almost empty we started to search for a police station in order to regist ourselve and give our personal informations.

Illustration 5: arriving to Samos island in Greece

Illustration 6: an immigrant saved a baby while getting down of the boat in Greece

We found a police station, there were only three police men. They were nice and they took us to a Camp and there we stayed for 13 days. The situation in Camp was misreble. We used the blankets to make tents to sleep into it. There are only two bathrooms for about 700 people in the camp. The camp gave us a document which allowed us to move in Greece, so I bought a ticket to go to Athens by a ship, It was a long journey.

Illustration 7: travelling by a ship from Samos island to Athens

I was exhausted. Finally I arrived the capital of Greece with some syrians, I slept in a cheap hotel after buying new clothes because my clothes were dirty. I bought a mobile card. In the next day we headed toward Macedonia. We travelled the half of our way by train and then started to walk from Thessaloniki to Ovezona, it was about 15 km from the Greek to Macedonian border. We tried to cross the border by using GPS on our mobiles to know the way. In the first night we walked about ten hours, then we tried to enter Macedonia, but we could not, because the gaurding was hard.

Illustration 8: walking in Macedonia forest to the Serbian borders

We tried many times to enter Macedonia, but we could not, some people were catched and beated by the Macedonia´s police. I successed to pass the border with some young men by the help a smuggler who took from each one 300 dollars. We walked for ten hours. We were able to enter Macedonia, we ran too fast and the Macedonian police followed us till we reached the United Nations Centre which was located in the train station. We got there documents that allows us to move in Macedonia.

Illustration 9: on the Macedonia-Serbia´s borders

We headed towards the Serbian borders, in the way the Serbian police prevented us from continuing in our way towards Belgrade and threatened that they will turn us back to Macedonia and after a whole night in the forest they allowed us to continue the road after paying one finfty euros from each person. We continued our way on feet until we got to the center of the United Nations and we have to take papers that allowed us to stay in Serbia for five days.

Illustration 10: waiting in front of the UN center in Serbia to take permission papers

I headed toward the train station and I traveled to the capital “Belgrade“ to continue my journey to Germany. I could not cross from Seberia to Hungary. I stayed in Sebria more that eight days in the last three days I slept in the streets and in train stations because my papers which were given to me by the united nation center just allowed me to stay for five days and the hotels did not accept me as my papers were valid.

Illustration 11: sleeping in the street of Belgrade train station

While I was walking in the streets with another Syrian man the police stopped us, we tried to run away, but we could not. The police threated us and they said that they will turn us back to Macedonia, my friend offered money to leave us, so each of us paid 50 Euro and they let us continue our way. Here I remembered the situation in my country where you could break the law by paying money “bribery”.

Finally, after eight days, I met in Serbia a smuggler who was called by the Syrian people the “Hungarian Polo”. He told us that he was working in drug trade before the refugee crisis. The day after the agreetment, Polo called us to come to a house where we gathered. We were 25 immigrants. he classified us to groups. He took me with three people by a car to cross the seberian border to Hungary, unfortunately, the car broke down near a checkpoint. We left the car and hide among the threes and the driver flew away. We tried to call the smuggler and later on he sent to us another car which took us to the Hungarian border and there the driver threw us in the apple orchards and then we started to run for two hours leaving behind our backbags till we arrive a small truck which was waiting us as the smuggler had told us before, so our journey began crossing the trip to Austria.

Illustration 12: hiding in a truck heading to Austria

At least we got to Austria I changed my clothes and I looked for the bus station and I bought a bus ticket from Austria to Germany. While we enter Germany, the police got into the bus and asked the travelers to show their passports. I have a valid passport without a visa. The police handcuffed our hands and We were kept in the police station for about 4 hours. They examined us, took our fingerprints and gave us papers to go to the nearest refugee camp in Munchen.

But I continued my way to Nordrhein-Westfalen state and I stayed in Camp belonging to the German Red Cross, in Castrop-Rauxel in July 2015. After two month in october I was transferred to Bonn – Oberkassel to the home of my family who had arrived to Germany befvore me. Since that time I have started to learn german langauge. I am trying to continue my studies here and do PhD studies at the university. My weiterbuildung in „betriebswirtschaftliche kennzahlen und controlling“ start in November in Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg.

I hope that I find a job as financial auditor in Germany. I hope that peace overcome Syria and to be rebuilt as Germany after World War II by the efforts of its sons.