Thursday, 20 June 2019

On the Occasion of the World Refugee Day - About Freedom and Independence

On the Occasion of the World Refugee Day, we are presenting testimonies of migrants who we were talking to within the activities performed as part of the project "Protection Monitoring and Assistance to Refugees and Migrants in Belgrade" funded by Save the Children.

"My name is Batul. I am not sure whether I am 31 or 32 years old. I am Hazara by ethnicity like my parents. My three sisters, my brother and I were born in Mashhad in Iran where I lived all my life. My parents were born in the north of Afghanistan, region of Ghour. They arrived in Iran 48 years ago as refugees and lived in Iran without regulated status all the time. In Mashhad I lived with my mother, brother and sister. Our father died 15 years ago. My two older sisters are in Norway. In Iran where we were born, we could not have any status. Iranians consider us Afghans and Afghans consider us Hazara. They treat us as Roma, as worthless. I'm not even married; you can imagine how they look at me.

As a person born in Iran in exile I do not have the citizenship of any state. I have never been in Afghanistan. The only document I ever had was a refugee card that we had to renew every year. I was born in a hospital in Mashhad, but I never obtained a birth certificate. After the father’s death, I tried to regulate the status. However, I was refused and told me that I should better go and find myself a husband. 

The only job I could find illegally was cleaning. I worked for a very small salary. I did not even have any medical insurance so I could not go to a doctor at the Health Centre but only to a private doctor, which had to be paid each time. This is why I had the idea to open my cleaning agency, but it was not possible without documents. We could not even go to another city to find a job or move to another place. I heard that refugees from Afghanistan could get a "white" passport in the Embassy, but I did not inquire about conditions. Without documents, we were destined to life only in one place. Once, one of my sisters tried to go to another city, to Tehran. However, the police went into the bus and took her out, because she did not have any documents. They threatened to deport her to Afghanistan. She was crying and begging them to let her go home. After a few hours, she was allowed to return to Mashhad. My brother was arrested several times, especially in the evening when he was returning home from work.

Life was very stressful and difficult for a woman who did not want to marry and wanted to be independent. Once while I was working as a cleaner, the agency owner wanted to be intimate with me, you know what I mean. I refused him and he got angry. He reduced my already small salary, threatening to pull the strings to deport me to Afghanistan. I wanted to report him to the police, but the police asked for my documents to file my report. When I explained to the police my situation, they began to question me about how I worked without a work permit. I had some more unpleasant experiences with men, because I was a woman, refugee and Hazara. This is why I was always looking for a job near the house, which was not easy. I also had big problems with self-confidence.

I want to live freely, to have my business. I do not want to marry just for documents. For that reason I decided to join my sisters in Norway.


We have arrived in Serbia early this morning. I hope I will not stay in Serbia for a long time. I want to join my sisters in Norway as soon as possible.

Batul stayed overnight with the family in Miksalište. The next day, she was taken to registration together with the family."

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