My name is Yousef Kadoura. I am Palestinians and lived in a small refugee settlement along with 20,000 other Palestinians. I went to a school that was also in the Alnerab refugee facility belonging to the government. Then I studied at the University of Damascus, the History Department. I studied and worked concurrently until I graduated. Then I worked as a teacher in Aleppo.
When the troubles started in Syria, we were afraid. Palestinians wanted to be neutral during the civil war in Syria, and we stood with Syria against foreign countries and joined the Syrian people to achieve better conditions. It was very difficult to be neutral because they did not accept that, but you were automatically on any of the sides. We managed to be neutral at the beginning of the events, but not later. The police and the government were after me and they detained me. The police came home to me and wanted to take me away barefoot. But I told them that I would not follow them unless I could change my clothes. My son woke up and we argued with them, but I was afraid for my son, so I went with them.
On the way they started putting cigarettes on my head, and as you can see, I have no hair. They struck me and eventually they put my hands on the ground and hit me with the weapon on my fingers. Here you can see my finger which is still injured from the beating. Then they hit me on my shoulders and head.
I was detained at Alnerab airport in a prison cell for 8 days. After 1-2 days the interrogations began. The police picked me up. I had a black bag over my head when the interrogation began. “Tell us about the free army and the demonstrations”. I told him that none of what you say is correct. Firstly, I am a teacher and everyone in the area knows me well. I have a good reputation. I am also against all weapons. Then he said, ok then let’s see if you will know. They started to hit my feet and back, kick me and they used electricity. I decided not to scream with pain because I thought of the other detainees, because they want you to scream to make the others afraid. I had nothing to say and I’m not ready to admit something that I had not done. Then he said they would send me to the court and asked me, you know what that means. I answered yes I know, that means I would get the death penalty, so they took me back to the cell.
I did not eat anything for four days. I was close to death. I could not get up and had a high fever. Then they opened the cell and called my name “Yousef Kadoura”, we went out together, and I’m politically active so I knew someone who managed to get me out. When people ask me, I tell you I went out of prison 30 minutes before death.
After that, there was only one solution, and it was leaving the country. In Turkey, I decided to take the risk and fly to Greece instead of taking the risk with my children. I flew alone. I arrived in Sweden in November 2013. The residence permit in Sweden took a long time, I received it after 1 year.
The reunion also took a long time and is not done yet, because I have a daughter who is handicapped. She is 30 years old but she is like a child. One of the reasons for flying was that we are getting older and worried about her. It’s not that her siblings can not take care of her, but we start to be afraid for her sake. Of course we want to live in freedom but not without her, she should also be part of the reunification, but unfortunately, the Migration Board does not accept the reunification and we have applied twice.
I have two children who are here, one in sixth grade and the other in high school, but the mother is left with the daughter. It is very difficult. We’ll have to wait and see what’s going to happen to my daughter. We can not let her fly here, we wait and see what decision the Migration Board makes.
Perhaps I will have to return to Syria and that return involves many risks. The government can at any time catch me and imprison me.
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: swe Subject: asylum, refugees, A Million Stories, Sweden