Without shelter I am wandering about
From home to home I am wandering
Without you I am always wandering with woe
Around the crowd
You are my only love,
My whole existence
Without you, meaningless is my poetry and song
Oh my country,
Exhausted from the constant chase
Oh my country,
Unremembered and voiceless
Oh my country,
Wounded, with no cure,
Oh my country,
Who sings of your woe?
Were singing in Farsi with all their voices united into one all the members of Greece’s Afghan community last month in the protest that was organized, occasioned by the latest political developments in Afghanistan.
Greece’s policy towards refugees who are giving life wages right now in order to come and live in Greece in poverty, can be reflected by a metal 40-km wall, barbed wire, drones and cameras with 15-km radar into Turkish territory.
90% of the testimonies of refugees who were chased out of the Greek-Turkish borders show that prohibiting them from entering the country was done with violence, maces and flash grenades.
Turkey is following a similar policy, as it is depicted in the 241-km wall that is being built in the Turkish-Iranian borders.
R., a young Afghan opened up and described to us the life of a refugee in latter-day Athens:
“Living in Greece is de facto a process that lasts for years and is full of vicissitudes, a process that is different to everyone.”
“Undoubtedly, an Afghan is safer in Greece than to their own land. Nevertheless, safety is a complicated term. Psychologically speaking, it is very difficult to feel it.”
“It hurts when people avoid looking at us. They think that we do not notice it. Needless to say that there are Greeks with whom we share mutual respect and trust. It is not in anyone’s power to change people’s stance, but typical politeness is elementary. Some people who do not catch up with the news are puzzled over us being here. In my point of view, this stems partly from the fact that in the course of the last 40 years, media has normalized Afghanistan as a constant warzone, as if it is natural and unchangeable.”
Some of the intractable issues faced by the community include the process of taking Greek citizenship, which is a chimaera even for Afghans who have been living in Greece for decades, the expensive charge of hospitalization, the unseemly hostility of people towards them, the arduous process of taking visa and passport and also the large number of people who do not get accepted in the country after being interviewed.
“Surely, in contrast to the situation in their homeland and the difficult process of coming to Greece, the members of the community settle for whatever can grant them their subsistence, hence whatever different than a warzone is more preferable.”
It is of major importance to note that Greece’s Afghan community does not consist solely of refugees who had to build their lives in Greece from scratch. Not every member of the community stands this ersatz freedom at the cost of dignity and fundamental human rights, just to stay alive.
When R. was asked whether she can communicate with siblings from her country, she answered:
“When people are at the airport, the border or the streets without any means of nourishment, how can they manage to have mobile phones, or more precisely, to use mobile phones?”
“Whatever happens, Afghanistan is my country. I felt indescribable sadness when the Taliban got total power again; so much that I couldn’t get up in the morning, with the thought of what’s to become of my poor country ghosting me. I comforted myself, though, with the thought that I am young, I can study, work and help my country. In general, Afghanistan’s youth in Greece, making use of the better educational and job opportunities, is trying to bring change and improve the living conditions of the community.”
“In my heart I will always mourn Afghanistan and its children”
Bringing this situation to the centre of attention, a vital question is posed: how can we help?
There is no doubt in the fact that ethics is a very personal notion and it is needless to judge the situation with theories, scenarios and assumptions the majority of which are weak due to the superficial quasi-knowledge that is a trait of the modern Greeks.
On the other hand, we should not be nonchalant and unfeeling just because this particular issue makes us feel uncomfortable. Au contraire, it isn’t possible to not feel awkwardness and confusion from a sensitive situation such as this.
If someone wants to be considered “charitable”, “humanist” and whatever word he prefers to be used in reference to themselves, this person must first and foremost make their peace with the fact that support is a demanding and often lonely path, the only right one, though. A fault-tolerant path that requires constant work and following the news. A path that begins with introspection and gradual ostracism of the internalized racism and the embodiment of humanism as a way of living. This path has a lot of bifurcations, but a common destination: peace.
The song that is particularly famous within the Afghan diaspora, some lines of which appear translated at the beginning of the article:
The book “My pen won’t break, but borders will” written by Parwana Amiri, a young Afghan who lives in Greece:
*The use of the photographs from the protest has been authorized for the article after communicating with the creator himself*
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