“I started crying because I felt safe”

My name is Akbar, I’m 34, from Iran. By the end of 2015 I came to Sweden.
I was employed by the police when I was 17 years old. During my working life at the police, I often had contact with people. I discovered that the police did not work for the people. The injustice had spread across the country and the government did not respect human rights.

As a result, my resistance to the dictatorial regime grew. I have fought against it. Under Iranian law, politicians are not allowed to act politically but I think that, as citizens, I have the right to react if something is unfair in society. Therefore, I decided to join in and fight against injustice. Because of this I was arrested by the police. 3 years ago I got fired as a police officer. For a while I was in a military jail.
Then I thought about changing religion from Islam to Christianity. I went to church.

After a while, I decided to flee to Turkey and seek asylum at the UN. I did not seek asylum directly but waited a little. There were a lot of refugees from Afghanistan and Syria to Turkey so I changed and decided that I would continue and seek asylum in any other country in Europe. I was told that Angela Merkel said that Germany opened the door to refugees. That’s when I decided to flee to the EU along with many others who came from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. It took a month. I came to Sweden on October 28, 2015.

At first I thought I was going out of Izmir but I failed. All smugglers chose to help those who were from Syria before they helped others. They from Syrian had planned their trips and could pay more than we others. The smugglers therefore chose to arrange their trips first. Therefore, I decided to go to Bodrum. I stayed there for 10 days. I did not have so much money and no paper. As a military, I also had no passport. Without a pass, I could not stay in any hotel. I did not know how much money I needed for the trip. That’s why I saved the money I had and lived outdoors. It was very difficult to live outside, but I pretend to be with other refugees and sleeping on streets than going back to Iran and experiencing prison.

Once we went with a boat. The boat accommodated 12 people but we were about 60 refugees. Near the waterfront to Greece, the Turkish police arrested us. They left us at Bodrum’s dock. Almost all the tourists who stood there filmed us. Other refugees tried to hide their face with their hands but I did not care about it. I did not do anything wrong. I had fought for my opinions and wanted everyone to hear my voice. When we arrived in Bodrum, the smuggler told us that the police gathered all refugees. Those who were from Iran would send the police back there. I really could not go back to Iran. I preferred to die than to go back to Iran. We hid a few days in the woods. The second time we went boat with another smuggler to an island in Greece. Our boat was worse than the first one. We were even more on the boat. One of us drove the boat. The boat’s engine broke and we had no gas. The boat was still standing for 5 hours and water came into the boat. We emptied it with our shoes.

The Turkish police did not help us because we were not in Turkey anymore and we received no response from the Greek police. We drove at 7 o’clock in the morning from Turkey and at five o’clock the day after we were in Greece. The people on that island knew that when there is a boat with refugees, they need help. We got food, towels, clothes, and other things we needed.

Afterwards, we had to register and register to proceed. We stayed there for a few days. There all got permission and they drove us to Athens. From there we went to the border with Macedonia. It was very warm. We went a long time before reaching a station where we could continue by train. All children and families had a place to sit, but we were alone to stand the whole trip either at the entrance or in the toilet. 10-15 people were forced to the toilet during the journey which took 5 hours. There was also no place on the floor. We stood all the way until we arrived in Serbia. There we had to wait a long queue to get permission to move on to Croatia. I had to wait 4 days before I was allowed to go on.

We traveled through Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Germany before we arrived in Sweden. Now I have travel documents and I can easily travel through all the countries but then it was not easy. When I arrived in Sweden, I got a sponge on my feet. There was a long queue at the health center and it took 3 months before I got the help of a doctor. I still have wounds on my feet.

If I compare the countries I went through, I must say that Sweden and Germany as destination countries responded to refugees in a nicer way than the other countries that were not our goals. We would only pass those other countries and the behavior of the people against us was terribly inhuman.
When we arrived at Rostock we were allowed to stay there for 3-4 days. Then we proceeded to a port near Rostock. I have forgotten the name. We went on to Gothenburg. From there we then went to Malmö. We stayed at Hotel Jägersro.

When I was in Turkey, I was still worried but when I arrived at the Greek island, I started crying because I felt safe. I was both happy and sad. I was glad that I could finally save myself but sad because I could not come back to my country and because I will not be able to meet my daughter who was only 1 year old when I left her.
I ask the responsible authorities to help my child and my wife get here. My wife has had a mental illness in Iran. I do not feel good either.


A Million Stories Sweden: Nizar Keblawi, Nina Olsson, Sara Sarabi, Malin Gillberg, Daniel Björklund, Mats Nordström.

A Million Stories Sweden volunteers: Fariborz Ghadir, Mohamad Mohsin, Yazan Saad, Tarek Aloudallah, Dalia Saleem, Yara Ali, Ahmad Younes, Chaimae Hamri.

In association with



Dublin Core: Language: sv Subject: asylum, refugees, A Million Stories, Sweden