Bulgaria

I come from problem. I don’t want to be a problem.

Jawed Nouri, Afghan refugee in Bulgaria
Interview made during the Infomobile-Tour (July-August 2010)

My name is Jawed Nouri. I am from Afghanistan citizen, and I am 24 years old and now I am in Bulgaria asking for asylum. Until now not successfully. I entered Bulgaria in 2003 and still I am here. Why we left Afghanistan, this I want to explain.
My father was a general in the time of communism in Afghanistan. When the communist regime came down the Mujaheddin and other Islamic groups took the power and that is why my family had to leave Afghanistan. Because they shoot my father on the head, but he survived. They kill my uncle, my grandfather and that is why we had to leave illegally to Pakistan. We lived in Peshawar. That time I was 6 years old. We lived illegally there in Pakistan. To say the whole story and explain everything is impossible now. I want to shorten the explanation. I started to work because all come very difficult for us in Pakistan. My father could not work the same work. In Pakistan they have also some discrimination of certain nationalities. I started to work. I learned to make carpets when I was 8 years old. When I became 13 years, I was already a specialist for carpet weaving. One day this people understood who I was. Somebody informed them and they take me as hostage and asked me where is my father. They had Kalashnikovs. I shouted. That time they cut my three fingers. I started to run away from Pakistan because those people knew me and my father. I decided I have to leave because I was a danger for my family also.

I went far from Pakistan. First to India, then Tajikistan, Malaysia, Australia … they have some islands. They put me in detention there. Not just me! They had a lot of people in detention. I couldn’t find a place for me there. I decided to return back because I was loosing my time. They deported me again back to Pakistan. From Pakistan I started to walk to the border of Iran. I entered Iran and then I entered Turkey, but it was a very dangerous way because I walked fifteen days on the mountains and these mountains are very dangerous. There are land mines and people die. I entered, I left.

When I entered Turkey it was the year 2002. I decided to go Greece. We were 192 people in the back of a truck. Near ThessalonikI the police caught us. They understood that inside the camion was somebody. They checked and pulled us out. They let a police dog run on me. I was 14 years old, that time. The dog bit my legs.
Some Human Rights organization came and asked me: „Do you like to stay in Greece?“ I said: „no! If it starts like this, with a dog biting me, what will come in the future?“ And after they deport us illegally to Turkey. Illegally! They took us with a car to the border. There was a river, like 15 meters to cross, and then water, water! Evros, yes! Then by a small ship they returned us. 10 people each time deported to Turkey.

From Turkey I started again to come to Bulgaria, but it was also dangerous at the border. The police beat many people. They behave very badly with foreigners. I went by train. I came “tawan”, they say in Bulgaria. When I crossed the Turkish border some people helped me, because alone I couldn’t and I didn’t know the way. When I crossed the Turkish border near to the Bulgarian border some people said: “Come down.” They pushed me out of the train, the train left. For two days I didn’t know where I was and I didn’t understand anything. When I woke up, I was in a village. There were children, women… It was Turkish, just near Swilengrad. And I got up! I had broken my head and all. After that I went to Sofia and I went to a refugee camp to apply for asylum.

I speak 7 languages with Bulgarian and English. 5 languages I speak good. Perfect ly! I don’t have any problem with them: Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Pashtu, DarI and Farsi.

Why I have a lot of problems here? Because I don’t agree with the government of Bulgaria and with the police of Bulgaria. Because I don’t agree this is why I have problems. Very fast I learned Bulgarian language. After this national security came and they wanted that I work with them. I spoke about the corruption, that refugees, if they want a humanitarian or refugee status they have to pay for them. Between 2.000-2.500 Euro. They also asked me to pay. Most refugee camps are centers of business. So the security wanted that I work with them like an agent. I reject their application. I said: „I don’t want. I come from problem. I don’t want to be a problem in Bulgaria.“

After one month I worked with the human rights. In 2006 they had some international conference. I was there. It was about refugees, racism – about everything. There were people from 48 countries. After that I talked too much. I had a problem with a taxi- driver. I called the police. The police said that I am a danger for Bulgaria.

During the conference I didn’t talk about my problems. That time I had not many problems. I had no right to study, no right to status. If you don’t have status, you don’t have right to learn Bulgarian language. Very bad system here! When I spoke too much, after everybody came and they say that I am a danger for national security in Bulgaria and they put me in prison.

They put me in Busmantsi prison but they have also Druzbha prison. They have 8 cells, each one is for 10-12 people and you don’t have anything there. Very dirty! Very dirty beds, dark cells, you can not see the sun, you are closed up inside for 24 hours a day. What kind of rights can you have there? You just you go eat and this food comes from the jail. You don’t have the right to use the toilette from nine o’clock at night to nine in the morning. You don’t have any rights. If you knock the door, police comes to beat you. They beat one person from Lebanon so much – he died! They beat him too much. I saw it with my own eyes. I was a witness. He was beaten. Then he went to hospital and died. I was there three months and fifteen days.

At that time nobody talked about refugees, about this center, about this jail. I have one journalist from England, she is my very best friend, and I called her and I requested too much: “Please come, please do something, because it is not good. It is anti-human place. Even animals cannot sleep here. She went to many places: the government, immigrations office… She wanted to get some information, but nobody gave her any information. After that she came to see me. She made an interview and a picture. Then she published that in the newspaper called Ecosofia. After that publication they started worrying in the immigration office of the government because this place is very bad. In Busmantsi they started to do very bad with me. They started to see me with very bad eyes like I was like animal for them.

When I was brought to Busmantsi prison, I got to know many popular Bulgarian people like journalists, writers – all media knows me in Bulgaria, and I started to request from them to help in stopping this situation. But they didn’t let any people visit me in Busmantsi. They put me several times in isolation – for one month, for 23 days, for 18 days. Because I spoke too much, because I fight for my rights.

That time I went crazy and I put fire on myself. I wanted to protest, to show them… I still can do something inside. All people where afraid in Busmantsi when I put fire on myself. I was brought to the hospital for one month and fifteen days. I made an operation at my legs. They did very bad with me also in the hospital. I was in handcuffs, very bad! It is a long story. After that they returned me back to Busmantsi and they put me to isolation. Because I fired myself, they put me in isolation. This is very bad in the Bulgarian system. The whole system is very bad. I am not afraid of any people. The national security threatened to kill me. They said: “You know, whoever is talking with you, will have problem!” I said: “I know, but I don’t have a problem with God! You are only human, you are nothing.” After that they took me out of isolation. I fought. I went to court, but here is no court to put a complaint. They never explained to me, not even at court, why I am in prison. I asked at court: “Why am I in prison?” They replied that it was a secret.

In court one time I won but the next day the decision of the court was changed. They said that the judge made mistakes. I had this protocol. There is no justice. Its all Mafia. Don’t believe the court of Bulgaria. I finally lost every court. I don’t have any chance to get out of Busmantsi. Even they don’t deport me but also they don’t release me. Just they keep me there.

Later I published it in the newspapers – very big against national security.
I think I was the first person who talked about national security in Bulgaria in all this time. In Bulgaria before 4 or 5 years you talk about national security and all people are afraid. No, no… speak with you. It is very bad thing the danger of national security. They made problem also for five journalists, who wrote about my case. They were fired. Even this journalist from England had problems so she left Bulgaria. It needs many publications, many fights, to get small changes. Now all the world knows about Busmantsi. I am very happy. I don’t feel sorry that I came to Bulgaria. I am happy I do something. I changed something in Bulgaria. This is good.

I was finally released from Busmantsi prison because I made many problems inside. I protested, I broke things… this is not allowed. I couldn’t achieve anything at the courts, so I broke all the doors many times… I broke everything. When I protested, they brought anti-terror police and beat people, beat me. I was not afraid. I started. That is why all journalists knew me. They thought if they keep me more in prison they would have problems. One day the director came and said: “You want to go outside?” I said: “That is what I fight for, but I don’t want only me to be free, but all people!” He said: “No! Only you will leave!” I said: “OK, why?” He said: “We decided to let you go.” Believe me, he said like this: “Go out!!!”

When I left the prison, other police officers cought me again. They said: “Give me your documents!” I said that my name is Jawed Nouri. They replied: “Ok, give me documents.” I said: “No. I don’t have documents. Nobody gave me documents, but my name is Jawed Nouri. 24 hours after one police let me go. I went 20 meters and the next police caught me. He also put me for 24 hours in prison. Then the police said: “You have to come everyday and sign.” I said: “Why I have to sign?”

Three years I was in jail. Now I hate the police and every morning I should see police? I said: “Never! Even if you put me hundred years into prison, I will not come to sign.” After they said: “Ok, you can go to a refugee camp… give an application for the asylum application.” I went there. Now they gave me a temporary residence permit for 3 months. You know its crazy. I have an order to be in detention. I have another order to get deported. I don’t have the right to re-enter Bulgaria for the next 10 years. And I have also another order saying that I don’t have the right to leave Bulgaria. It is very interesting.

There was a lot of solidarity in prison among people but there were also many who were afraid. With some people we fought together. That is why I got stronger. In the beginning I was alone among hundreds of people. I fought and then they put me in isolation. All people are afraid from isolation, but for me isolation, Busmantsi or other buildings are the same. It is all jails. Here is also a jail. The people are afraid. One day I explained to them that when we are 10- 20 people or 100 people protesting inside we will be strong. We fought too much. We had very serious problems with the police. One guy inside Busmantsi started beating police, because they came in the night at 2 o’clock and if they didn’t like somebody they just said: “Come!” And after they take him out of the cell and beat him. They were beating too much! One Tchechenian refugee became so angry once that he started to beat 8 policemen. He was very strong, like me. That is why all know about Bulgaria, about refugees and about Busmantsi.

I have good wishes now. I want to become a lawyer. Before I liked to become an architect. But now I changed my profession. I said, I will learn international economy and law. One day I want to support those people who don’t have supporters. One day I want to become a lawyer and fight for everybodies’ human rights. These are my very wishes.
I want to close this Busmantsi detention centre also. All detention centers should close! Not only in Bulgaria – everywhere. And I am really, really thankful to this people in Bulgaria, who protest against Busmantsi. This was good for me, so thanks to all anarchists! In Afghanistan we have also anarchism. All life is anarchism! But in Afghanistan anarchism has another mentality. It is different. Here are good anarchists. When there was the demonstration in Busmantsi I was outside. I was on both demonstrations.

Thank you very much for listening to me! One day I want also to do something for Bulgaria. There are very good people here who support me too much and they had because of me, many problems.

Links
http://sofiaecho.com/2006/05/29/644602_reading-room-seeking-asylum-in-bulgaria
http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/europaheute/1277628/
http://sofiaecho.com/2010/09/10/958122_strangers-in-the-city
http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=117094
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tppwp7zXtY&feature=player_embedded (part 1 begins: 2.44)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN6iBnxS-YY&feature=player_embedded (part 2)
http://mayas-corner.blogspot.com/2010/02/prison-by-any-other-name.html
http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/europaheute/1277628/
http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48903
http://www.lcri.hit.bg/Kapital_Busmantsi_article.doc
http://sofiaecho.com/2010/02/26/864702_the-bousmantsi-triangle
http://www.vagabond-bg.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1392&Itemid=47

Downloads:
valeria iIlareva: immigration-detention (bulgaria)
The Bousmantsi Triangle
2010 UNHCR Annual Report: Access to Territory and Asylum Procedure
SAR Graphiques: Bulgaria and Migration

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