Agid and Sherin’s Story, Greece
“We have no other choice …”
Agid and Sherin, a Kurdish couple from Afrin, are among the about 200 Syrian refugees demonstrating in Athens’ Syntagma square since 19 September 2014. They left Syria eight months ago aiming to reach northern Europe. Yet, after seven attempts to leave Greece and having lost their lifetime savings, they are in total despair. “Syntagma is our last hope. If this doesn’t work either, we have no other choice than to go back to die in our country,” says Agid.
Their journey started in early 2004, when, at the age of 21, Agid was arrested for participating in the Kurdish movement:
I was sentenced to five years and transferred to Adra prison. The first month I was subjected to unspeakable torture. I spent the second month in complete isolation. ‘We will make you wish you were dead, but that time will never come,’ they told me. And so it was. I was tortured until I didn’t believe I was human anymore…
In July 2006 I was released after receiving amnesty. After the abrogation of my political rights and while I was still in great shock, I chose to pass to Turkey for a quieter life. But when the war in Syria intensified, I felt that I could no longer remain uninvolved in what was happening to my people. Thus, I returned to Ras al-Ayn.
In the beginning of 2013, during clashes between Kurdish forces and jihadist militants, I was severely injured by a suicide attack. I spent one month in the hospital. The entire left side of my body is full of shrapnel. If I don’t receive any treatment soon, I risk of partly losing my eyesight. Due to the injury, I also suffer from memory problems.
My life was threatened again after this attack. I realized I had become a target, after discovering a bomb in my car three times. Together with Sherin, we left for Turkey before it was too late. But even there, the situation was grim for the Kurds. In order to build a normal life we had to reach northern Europe at all costs.
So, on 6 September we crossed from Bodrum to Rhodes. A one-hour journey turned to 14 hours of hell. As we were certain that we would drown, we were constantly pumping water out of the boat, while trying to find our way. There were eight children on board. We were very fortunate to come ashore alive.
After Rhodes, we made repeated attempts to cross to the rest of Europe, as Greece cannot provide refugees with the basics to make a new beginning. We tried three times to leave from Crete’s airport but failed. Then we went to Igoumenitsa and made three more attempts to reach Italy by boat. The third time, we stepped on Italian soil, expressed our will to apply for asylum but they just sent us back…
With our remaining money we tried to cross to Skopje on foot. Right before reaching the border though, the smuggler disappeared together with the 5,000€ we had given him. A large family who was with us, and today also protests in Syntagma, had given him 28,000 €… Personally, I no longer consider smugglers as humans.
Now we are left with nothing. We spent more than 26,000€ to buy what? An empty hope…
Agid ’s testimony has been recorded by: Elisavet Nazli/2014.