Making Home Away

So I sat them down and told them: the five of us are here, me, you and your father, wherever the five of us are, that place should be your heaven.
Discover their stories


Current 'Home' Istanbul, Turkey

Atiq is a young Hazara man from Afghanistan, although he was born and brought up in Iran.  He was deported twice from Iran to Afghanistan for being illegal and for working without a permit, and his lack of legal status in either country has driven him to attempt to migrate to Europe.  After a failed crossing to Greece, he has found himself stuck in Istanbul:

"I didn’t have much information about Europe or about the conditions in the different countries but at least I knew that I could reach a safe place and have a legal status there. I could live there, work there, have documents and be legal and having legal status brings you a different life.

I didn’t leave Iran for fun. (...) I was born in Iran. My father had left Afghanistan 40 years earlier. As far as status, I’m not a citizen of Iran but I was also not close to the culture and customs or the situation in Afghanistan either. Yes, I was deported to the country of my origin but I was foreigner there. What it means is that I am from another country and it is very different for me there; the same way it is different coming to Turkey from Iran. No support system, nothing to do, new life, similar to the situation in Afghanistan. How can I be expected to stay in Afghanistan and not come back to Iran?

Once while in Iran I had thought of going to Syria for war, for fighting. You may have heard about the situation of Afghanis who were captured in Iran and were paid to fight in Syria. This was a thought before leaving Iran.

Think about me; I’m a hard working guy with aims and goals about his life, and while working someone captures me and deports me to another country. A foreigner in my own country. Strange area, people. You may have heard about the passengers inside Afghanistan, the Hazara passengers got captured inside of Afghanistan because of being Hazara and they were killed because they were Hazara. They were picked out from the passengers in the bus and were killed. It was these situations and dangers in Afghanistan that made me leave Afghanistan for Iran.

In a few words I don’t have a way to go back or go ahead. I’m stuck here.  All of these conditions and situations make me stuck in really tough conditions. I want to tell you another thing. There may be better opportunities for work. But I can’t change my job because it is not just my job. It is my accommodation."

A workshop in Istanbul where single Afghan men in their early 20s both work and sleep. The workshop is in the basement of a building on a crowded street in this working-class neighborhood where most Afghans - along with many Syrians, Iranians, Kazakhs and Turkmen - live.  Image by Vicki Squire, copyright CTM.

"It is difficult. I know I have to start from zero and I have started. But now I am stuck in the zero point. Everything makes the paths not crossable. So I feel myself stuck. I told you that, just today, I wished just to share my pain and suffering and now I am a bit more comfortable, that I have told these stories to you.

I believe and I understand that there is discrimination, especially racial and ethnic discrimination, in any place in the world. I can tell you that I am not looking for a specific country. (...) You may think about Japan, Brazil, Kuwait, about any country that can recognize me as a refugee and give me a document and legal status that makes me the holder of some rights. I am looking for that. In Iran, I am a guy who doesn’t have the right to register his own SIM card. I gave you the example of the SIM card to help you understand what is going on in Iran for Afghans."


This extract is from an interview conducted during the summer of 2016 as part of the Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat project,  which was led by Vicki Squire: Fuller stories from which these excerpts are taken can be explored here:


Current 'Home'
Istanbul, Turkey