216 Yasir & Hussen
Yasir arrived in August 2015 in Berlin. The attempts of the Iraqi to get asylum in an other Arabic country - Kuweit, Qatar or the United Arabic Emirates - had failed. Hence he decided to flee from Mosul to Europe.
Yasir: A thirty year biography of war – Surviving on the battlefield of a global war
He was born December 14, 1985. For five years the Iran Iraq war had been going on. He learned how to walk and how to talk during the war. His hometown Mosul is located at the Nineveh Governorate.
"Look at the city of Nineveh
which is, since the beginning of time, located
far in the country, away from the sea
surrounded by mountains."
Those are the naïve lyrics of a Christian nursery rhyme about the old Assyrian capital. Its library used to treasure the twelve-tablet-epic of Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk. It has been a long time since Gilgamesh - the main character in the Epic, a demi-God of superhuman strength - was king of Uruk: he reigned sometime between 2800 and 2500 BC.
Gilgamesh was desperately searching for immortality.
"May he who has died a death behold the radiance of the sun!"1
August 14, 2015 Nouri-al Maliki resigned as prime minister in Iraq. The elite troops, installed by the potentate in military and intelligence, had almost taken Yasir's life. After arbitrarily being arrested he ended up in one of the regime's execution and torture cellars. To watch his inmate's suffer tortured him almost more than all ordeals he had to endure himself, physically and mentally. After one month and 15 days they set him free.
The torture cellar robbed his sleep and his sanity. For seven months now he has been getting medical help.
These 45 days when he was away, his father, mother, and sister had been living in trembling uncertainty. After the father's accident, Yasir had become the family's only provider. His younger brother was killed in 2004 on his way to school. After the explosion of a car bomb American soldiers had opened fire. The 12 years old boy died in the hail of bullets.
Yasir dropped out of school in 12th grade, to earn his family's living. He would work at an embroidery machine, applying logos on textiles. His sister studied physics at the university of Mosul until ISIS banned the educational institute's free spirit.
On June 8, 2014 Yasir left his family and Iraq against his own will. His mother sent him away, to keep him as her son. She made him escape when the warriors arrived outside the city. He is listed on ISIS' search list.
Being separated from his family is like an amputation for him. Worrying whether his relatives will survive and to know about their financial hardship are a burden to him. Since 2007, his 80 years old father is paraplegic and unable to work.
Since early February 2016 there is again Internet connection via satellite to Mosul. A neighbor enables the family members to communicate with one another. All phones died long ago. Iraqi government had disconnected the North and the region of Kurdistan to complicate the IS' combat.
Yasir escaped to Turkey via Erbil. He stayed in Sakarya, a province between Ankara and Istanbul, for eleven months. Then, he had no money left and did not find a job. He came to the island of Kos by boat, going on an odyssey from Athens through Macedonia and Serbia to Hungary. His fingerprint was taken and he received physical blows. In June 2015, he would finally reach Munich.
He had consciously opted for Germany. The program of Deutsche Welle, which he used to watch regularly in Iraq, had significantly affected his image of Germany. Germans made a good impression on him and they seemed to treasure the dignity of man.
He feels comfortable in Germany, he likes the country and the people and the German language. He is trying to forget about Iraq. He is balancing over mental abysms, always worrying about his family. He too uses the wording "I have to start over." Point Zero.
"I am an optimist. I do not only live in the contemporary. I want to learn German, master the language, and work. I want to get away from welfare, be self-dependant and pay taxes.
He is expecting the Germans to be fed up with the people that escaped to their country. "Would there not be a war, I would have never come here," he says. "He who leaves his country due to war has a right to asylum."
He experienced 30 years of war in his home country. He has only one friend. They grew up together and it is in his house where his family can use the Internet now. When asked whether he was able to build a friendship in Germany, he tells us about Catherine. Sometimes the opera singer brings concert tickets for his German class. He describes his first experience at the opera in verbal superlatives and praises it as glorious.
The 12 months escape through different countries has been the first trip of his life.
Shared life and space: Details of room 216 Yasir shares with Hussen from Syria.