I am Basher. I am 35 years old and I am from Iraq. I got arrested and they tortured me, all kinds of torture. In my city, in Iraq, I worked as a truck driver. I will tell you my story from when the previous system got down (Saddam Hussein system) until now.
In Iraq, people were warriors in militia, Iranian militia. I have been tortured many times and they led me to a secret prison. The first time that I was tortured was when they took me from my place to an unknown place and all this torture lasted for one month. Then, I came back to my normal life. Two months later, they took me again for fifteen days. One more time, they tortured me with all kinds of torture. They forced me to join them. They said to me: “If you don’t join us, we will torture you again”. They forced me to join them but I didn’t accept it. I cannot kill anyone! They continued to torture me from 2006 to 2008, for three years in a row. They caught me for one to three months and they tortured me all over again.
After a while, I started driving again my truck in Samarra city. In that city, they had special forces and they were asking me, everyday, where I am going and where I am from. I told them that I am from the Salah ad Din and I also told them that it is none of their business. Then, they took me again. They blindfolded me and they punished me. Also, they tortured me and they spoke rudely for my family. After that, they took me to an old building and I had my eyes covered for one more day. They took me into a small room and they wrote something in the wall. Every day they punished and tortured me for eight hours. Sometimes they tied my hands to the ceiling and they let me like this all night long. They continued this for fifteen days and they asked me again if I wanted to join them after all this torture. But I didn’t accept it. I don’t kill other people. I told them: “I am a person, I have my life and I have my family. I cannot join you”. They kept me for another fifteen days. After that, they let me free but they told me that if I want to be alive and work, I had to join a military group. “Be killer or you will be dead”.
At midnight, a car full of bombs and rockets came and after a while the bombs exploded. My uncles’ children and women were dead. They did that thrice. I was sure that they were iranian military people. They forced young men to join them and until now, no one knows where they are. My brother and my cousins have disappeared and another two hundred people are killed or disappeared. Αnyone in Iraq should join one of this organisations or else they are done. From 2007 to 2012, the military organisations had bombs, rockets and the terrorists used to take groups of twenty men beside them.
Many times, while I was going to sleep, I was thinking that I may wake up in prison or dead. Also, many people in Iraq had the same thoughts. I have some psychological issues now due to all these.
When the ISIS came…I went to Baghdad. The ISIS in Baghdad took people again. Then I moved to Doura. They took me again and I asked them who they are but they told me that it’s none of my business and that I cannot ask them. They took me, with my eyes covered, to a place about 15 km further where the boss of ISIS was. When we went there, they told me: “You are a muslim and you are in Baghdad”. They forced me to pay every month for my protection. When I was in Iraq, Ι could not be quiet because when I saw something wrong , I used to say that it is wrong. They hit me with a gun and they told me that if I don’t pay 6000 dollars, they would not let me go. I told them that I did not have the money and they told me that I had some days to find the money. Then, they said to me that some men will come to take the money. They left me at the street and I went to my family. I told my family that I cannot stay anymore in Baghdad and that I had to go to Kirkuk. In Kirkuk, they have many different religions and languages. I stayed there for three months. When I went there, the authorities asked me for an ID card so as to be able to live in Kirkuk. I wanted the help of a citizen who lived in Kirkuk or Ι had to give 1000 dollars to the authorities in order to give me the needed documents. They didn’t accept someone who is not a citizen of Kirkuk to work there. I started thinking about my travel because both my brothers are in Germany now.
For one more time someone tried to kill me and I ran away. If I return in Iraq after years, I will recognise him. I remember him because he is a known member of a military group that kills people.
I went to Turkey alone, because neither my family had money to give me so as to get a passport nor I had it. I was in Turkey for seven days when my family had to come in Turkey. They came with the help of a smuggler. They came by car and a lot of walking. I tried seven times to go from Turkey to Greece by car. However, the special forces always caught me and sent me back. The turkish police does not know anything about human rights. They took my phone and my money. After seven times that I tried to leave Turkey, I went back to Istanbul and tried to go to Greece by boat five times. They caught me again, they stole everything that I had and I talked to them rudely.
After all, I arrived in Greece and I cannot believe that I am here…I was shocked. My condition is fine now and I feel protected.
Storyteller’s name: Basher
Interviewer’s name: Anxhela Dani
Country of origin: Iraq