Mohammad Asif
Age: 23
From: Gazni, Afghanistan

I am Hazara, an ethnic group in Afghanistan. We are Shi’a Muslims. It’s very difficult in Afghanistan for Hazara. The Taliban is Sunni. Last year, the Taliban cut the necks of seven Hazara people. We can’t walk between provinces for fear that the Taliban willcatch us and take us to prison.

(Audio excerpt from Asif’s interview)

I lived with my father and my 26-year-old brother. My mother had passed away earlier.The three of us all worked with the Afghani army, bringing oil to different districts. My father was the boss and my brother and I were his assistants.

Some people reported to the Taliban that we were working for the government. So one day they caught us and put us into a car. They blindfolded us so we couldn’t see where we were going. After ten minutes, the car stopped and they brought us to the basement of a house.

We were in prison for 3 months. They gave us food twice a day, in the morning and at night. After the first month they killed my father. They cut his neck.

Sometimes they would torture me and my brother in all different kinds of ways. You can still see the results of the torture on my hand.

Two months after they killed my father, the Taliban had a meeting and decided to let my brother and I leave the prison. We walked fifteen hours on foot to Gazni, and then took a taxi to Kabul. We got a passport and visa and then we fled to Iran.

In Iran it was difficult, because our visa was only valid for 3 months. We lived there together for three months legally, and four months illegally. We only had enough money for one of us to continue on to Turkey. My brother said, you should go, and I will wait here. But it’s not safe for him there, he works only at night so the police don’t catch him and send him back to Afghanistan. In Iran, it’s hard for Afghan people. If they catch you they will deport you to Afghanistan.

When I made the decision to come to Europe, I knew it was risky. Maybe we would drown, or we would be killed by soldiers. The first time we tried to cross the border from Iran to Turkey, the Turkish police arrested me and the 26 people with me and ordered us to go back to Iran. They drove a tank towards us and it started to accelerate, so we started running. We tried again, this time walking through a deep river– almost five feet deep. We were able to escape from the soldiers and finally made it to Turkey. The boat trip from Turkey to Greece went smoothly.

Now I’ve been in Greece for 2 months. Here things are much better. It is safe to walk around and to go from place to place. I spend my time listening to music. I really love English music. I love Michael Jackson and Ahmad Zahir, a popular Afghan singer. I like to talk to the volunteers here– they are very kind and merciful people. But life is difficult here. Greece has an economic crisis. The government here cannot help me. We need food, we need a home. We live here at the port in Athens, sleeping in tents. And it’s too hot in Athens in the summer. The children are getting sick. All of the refugees will get sick if we continue here in the same situation. Every night before I fall asleep I think about my life, my future. How I can achieve my goals and do something with my life. I also think about my brother a lot.

I hope the border opens so that I can go to another country. If there are no other choices, I will apply for asylum in Greece.

Once I am settled somewhere, I will first study the language of the country I am in, and then I want to study economics at the university. I love economics. I want to work in business.

I will never go back to Afghanistan. It’s very dangerous for me. The Taliban recognizes me. They tortured me– with beatings and many other ways. I will never go back.

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