“…I can’t cry too.” – A favorite brother is deported to Afghanistan

Leyla* is 17 years old. On 08 June, her brother will be deported to Afghanistan. At the demonstration of Protest LEJ on the same day at the airport we met her and talked to her for the first time. In the following days we stayed in contact via messenger, because at first her brother remained missing. Leyla phoned hotels in Kabul and was finally able to locate him. A few days later, she agreed to do an interview with us. Her mother gave her underage daughter permission to talk to us and subsequently publish her story.

You and I met at Leipzig/Halle airport on June 8. Your brother, Edris*, had just been deported to Afghanistan. How is he doing now?

Leyla: He’s fine, but he said he feels all alone there. He has no one there. He still lives in the hotel and no one visits him there. My mother has already sent him 200 euros so that he can continue to live in the hotel for now.

How long did he live in Germany?

Eight years.

Is he afraid that the people in Kabul will realize that he has been in Germany for so long?

No, but it is uncertain. The Taliban are attacking Kabul now and probably took a corner of the city yesterday. That’s why the children are not allowed to go to school right now and have to stay at home. Because it is so insecure.

NATO troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan right now. What are you and your family’s thoughts on that?

Maybe there will be more war. Most people are afraid of the Taliban. But there are also some people in Afghanistan who think that the American or German troops are the terrorists. They want the Taliban back.

Did you also flee from the Taliban?

Also, yes. We fled to Iran first, that’s where I was born. But my three brothers and my sister were born in Kabul. There was already a war there and my mother was injured in the arm and head. And there are people in Kabul who want to kill us. Not Taliban, other people who are against us. That’s why we want to hide from them here.

And how is your brother hiding?

Kabul is not safe. Some villages around Kabul are maybe halfway safe. But my parents, for example, come from a small town near Kabul. And there it is dangerous again. I had another brother, he was 20 years old, he disappeared. We think he died. That was thirteen years ago. I was just a little kid then. My mother always wanted to protect my brothers. But she couldn’t with this brother. He wanted to leave the city and come to us in Iran. He contacted my mother shortly before that people wanted to kill him. But then he never contacted us again.

Despite the fact that you had to experience all this, your brother was deported. But you and your family have a residence permit?

Yes, I have three brothers. One died, one was deported, one is in Germany, but he has already been threatened with deportation.

How did you find out on the day of the deportation that the plane was taking off from Leipzig/Halle?

My brother was able to call me and tell me that he was being deported. I read on the Internet that the airport Leipzig / Halle will and called the lawyer. He also said that the plane was leaving from Leipzig/Halle. Then I saw that at 7 p.m. there was a demonstration, so we went there.

Did you still have hope that the deportation could be prevented?

Yes, the lawyer had said that Edris should have been given a court date. But Edris said that he was no longer in court.

Your mom was crying a lot at the airport. But I saw you quite calmly at the airport. What was going through your mind?

I saw my mother and thought to myself, I mustn’t cry too, so that she doesn’t become even sadder. I just told her, “Mom, he’s being deported, that’s just not our country, Germany.”

You told me at the airport that this was the brother who taught you a lot, who was a kind of teacher for you, who taught you to write.

Yes, he taught me the Persian script and showed me how to read the Koran. He was the only one who helped me. This is also the brother I love very much. My brothers are all the same to me, but he is special.

Your favorite brother?

Yes!

And don’t you have any hope that he will come back to Germany?

No, then he would go to prison. Besides, he is not allowed to enter Germany for five years. My mother said at that time that we had to come to Germany by plane. But that didn’t work out, we would have had to separate. So we went on foot so that we could at least stay together. Because if we had separated, we wouldn’t have known whether we would find each other again. But now we are separated.

And does your brother want to flee to Turkey now?

Well, it costs. We can’t pay for it. My sister is doing an apprenticeship, my other brother is also working, my father is still learning German, I’m still going to school. But fleeing is too expensive.

How much would it cost?

About 4,000 euro.

Now you say that your other brother is also threatened with deportation. Are you in contact with a lawyer?

Yes, there is still an open complaint. He can’t be deported because of that, the lawyer says. But we can’t trust him anymore [At this point there is a reference to asylum counseling centers in Leipzig, it is agreed to stay in contact about this].

And you, as the youngest sister, are the one in the family who says she mustn’t cry, she must comfort the others.

My mother loves the boys because they have experienced a lot. My sister and I are not so demanding.

Did you feel safe in Iran?

It wasn’t safe in Iran either, because we were always the foreigners and weren’t allowed to say anything there. We didn’t have any rights in Iran either, although my parents had a residence permit in Iran. Only I didn’t have one, because I didn’t have a birth certificate.

Because you were born in Iran?

Yes, unfortunately [laughs]. That’s why I was only allowed to attend first grade there, and after that I wasn’t allowed to go to school.

Okay, and that’s why you don’t have a tazkira [an Afghan identity document]?

Exactly, but I have one now. Once I’m 18, then maybe I can apply for a German passport at some point. But first I have to do an education.

And that’s why you weren’t allowed to go to school, and that’s when your brother taught you to read and write?

Yes, because when I was little, my greatest wish was to be allowed to go to school.

What would you like to be today?

A pharmacist! That’s why I’m doing my secondary school diploma now, and then I’ll catch up on my secondary school diploma at night school.

And why a pharmacist?

When I was ten years old, they always said I should be a doctor. But I like to work with chemicals in some way, and that’s why I like being a pharmacist.

I just remembered that you said at the airport that you don’t really trust anyone here in Germany, not even at school.

Yes, that’s generally the case. I’m always at home and alone. Even in Iran I wasn’t allowed to go out, except when I was in first grade. Then I was always at home talking to my mother. Through everything that happened, I was always afraid. I asked my mom why I can’t play with the other girls and she always said it’s not safe for me. She doesn’t want me to disappear either. There are just these people who want to kill us, they were also in Iran. So I used to help my mother with the housework.

And that’s why you still have such mistrust today?

Yes, if I had gone to school with my siblings, then we could have done our homework together and we would have eaten something together. But now I can write and read, but I can’t draw.

Do you read a lot today?

Not so much lately, but basically I do. I like reading old stories the most.

In Persian or in German?

Nah, in German now [laughs].

Okay, anything else you want to say?

Nah, I think that’s it.

Then thank you!

After the conversation we talked for a while. Leyla told how they tried three times to cross the sea to Europe. The third time, the tugboats suddenly wanted to sink the boat. She was eight years old and thought she was going to die. Her family reached the coast anyway, “even though I couldn’t swim yet,” she says. If it had been up to her, she would have stayed in the Mediterranean. She liked it there.

*Names changed.
/MG