Friday, 14 April 2017

A very important question

Blumen-Menschen by Marwa. Berlin 2016

Heaven-Proof House is a poetry project based in Berlin, devised by Philip Davenport from arthur+martha CIC and supported by the British Council and Arts Council England. The project continues the arthur+martha strand of international work with marginalised communities, connecting people across borders and boundaries. 

Phil writes:

I arrive at the asylum centre and a set of small obstacles defeat me. I want to meet someone to discuss an interview, but he isn't around. I need a table and chairs for making artwork with the kids, at my post in the corridor, by the security man. But Klaus the technical man is not around. Mohammed the security guy would normally help, but he also isn't around. He's translating a conversation for somebody who has a job centre interview. All of these small hiccups are made clumsier and bigger by my lack of language. I have no Arabic and am learning German, which refuses to stick in my head. 

So I go upstairs to see The Old Man, Karim. He's a frequent port of call and welcomes me into his room cheerily as he always does. He speaks good English and humours me by teaching me a few words in Arabic. We have talked about his journey from Iraq, paying human traffickers for the privilege of a grim boat journey. But we haven't talked about why he left. Once I've been settled into a chair and Karim has made sure I'm comfortable, he stares directly into my eyes and asks the uncomfortable question.


There is another question you should ask about why I leave my country. This is a very important question. When anybody leaves their country there is a reason. Why? For me, I was arrested there in Iraq for more than 35 days. We have been kidnapped by militia which worked with government because we is Sunni person and you know the militia is Shia. 

I was officer in the Saddam regime. For this reason they take us to the prison, to the prison. In such vehicles as civilians use. They come near my place where I lived and open door by very bad manner. They hit me in my head and said: "Don't move, don't rise your head."

They take us to the places where they work, near the government, The Ministry of Internal Affairs. I very frighten when I remember the bad situation. They have ability to kill and maybe throw body garbage. Nothing do, just obey them.

35 days in a prison, in a room. Without ventilation, without cooler, electricity cutting more than 10 hours. In my opinion, someone wrote to them about me, the intelligence secret person. In Iraq it was famous for this manner. One person in room with me, a young man. What was he accused, I don't know. He was hitten. Them hitting his leg and his head. His leg had bleeding, I don't know why they did this. I don't why, but you cannot speak them. Cannot whisper them. "Don't speak, don't whisper," the guard said. That is right, silence.

They don't give medicine to me, I was afraid for my son bringing it. After I go out the bad jail.

After stay in prison they make report, total information, where we live where we work. In my opinion the informations don't reach for anything. Nobody speak about me, no guilty. In my opinion I am arrested because I was officer in Saddam regime and I am Sunni. In the last days, they spoke to me. They said, "Mister you will go to your family. You have done nothing and we are sorry." 

But what did they do? They have many cars there for police, civilian cars. They said, "OK, we shall arrive you to your home." I said I don't believe they let me go. Me and four guards go in the civilian car. They laugh. They say: "We shall not arrive in your house." They left me in the different place. They know my eyes not good. I cannot cross street, cannot see. I try to catch taxi, but they do not stop. No one stop for me, they are too scared. But at last, God's wish it was, somebody picked me up and returned me to my family.

If you stay in such country, maybe another time they not arrest you, they kill you.

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