TED全球问题:Barat Ali Batoor: My desperate journey with a human smuggler

I am a Hazara,and the homelandof my people is Afghanistan.Like hundreds of thousandsof other Hazara kids,I was born in exile.The ongoing persecutionand operation against the Hazarasforced my parents to leave Afghanistan.

This persecution has had a long historygoing back to the late 1800s,and the rule of King Abdur Rahman.He killed 63 percent of the Hazara population.He built minarets with their heads.Many Hazaras were sold into slavery,and many others fled the countryfor neighboring Iran and Pakistan.My parents also fled to Pakistan,and settled in Quetta, where I was born.

After the September 11attack on the Twin Towers,I got a chance to go to Afghanistanfor the first time,with foreign journalists.I was only 18, and I got a jobworking as an interpreter.After four years,I felt it was safe enoughto move to Afghanistan permanently,and I was working thereas a documentary photographer,and I worked on many stories.

One of the most importantstories that I didwas the dancing boys of Afghanistan.It is a tragic story aboutan appalling tradition.It involves young kidsdancing for warlordsand powerful men in the society.These boys are often abductedor bought from their poor parents,and they are put to work as sex slaves.This is Shukur.He was kidnapped from Kabul by a warlord.He was taken to another province,where he was forced to work as a sex slavefor the warlord and his friends.

When this story was publishedin the Washington Post,I started receiving death threats,and I was forced to leave Afghanistan,as my parents were.Along with my family,I returned back to Quetta.The situation in Quetta had changeddramatically since I left in 2005.Once a peaceful haven for the Hazaras,it had now turned into the mostdangerous city in Pakistan.Hazaras are confined into two small areas,and they are marginalized socially,educationally, and financially.This is Nadir.I had known him since my childhood.He was injured when his vanwas ambushed by terrorists in Quetta.He later died of his injuries.Around 1,600 Hazara membershad been killed in various attacks,and around 3,000 of them were injured,and many of them permanently disabled.The attacks on the Hazara communitywould only get worse,so it was not surprisingthat many wanted to flee.

After Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan,Australia is home to the fourth largestpopulation of Hazaras in the world.When it came time to leave Pakistan,Australia seemed the obvious choice.Financially, only one of us could leave,and it was decided that I would go,in the hope that if I arrivedat my destination safely,I could work to get the restof my family to join me later.

We all knew about the risks,and how terrifying the journey is,and I met many peoplewho lost loved ones at sea.It was a desperate decision to take,to leave everything behind,and no one makes this decision easily.If I had been ableto simply fly to Australia,it would have taken meless than 24 hours.But getting a visa was impossible.My journey was much longer,much more complicated,and certainly more dangerous,traveling to Thailand by air,and then by road and boatto Malaysia and into Indonesia,paying people and smugglers all the wayand spending a lot of time hidingand a lot of time in fear of being caught.

In Indonesia, I joined a groupof seven asylum seekers.We all shared a bedroomin a town outside of Jakarta called Bogor.After spending a week in Bogor,three of my roommatesleft for the perilous journey,and we got the news two days laterthat a distressed boat sankin the sea en route to Christmas Island.We found out that our three roommates —Nawroz, Jaffar and Shabbir —were also among those.Only Jaffar was rescued.Shabbir and Nawroz were never seen again.It made me think,am I doing the right thing?I concluded I really hadno other choice but to go on.

A few weeks later, we got the callfrom the people smugglerto alert us that the boat is ready for usto commence our sea journey.Taken in the night towards the main vesselon a motorboat,we boarded an old fishing boatthat was already overloaded.There were 93 of us,and we were all below deck.No one was allowed up on the top.We all paid 6,000 dollars eachfor this part of the trip.The first night and day went smoothly,but by the second night, the weather turned.

Waves tossed the boat around,and the timbers groaned.People below deck were crying,praying, recalling their loved ones.They were screaming.It was a terrible moment.It was like a scene from doomsday,or maybe like one of those scenesfrom those Hollywood moviesthat shows that everythingis breaking apartand the world is just ending.It was happening to us for real.We didn't have any hope.Our boat was floatinglike a matchbox on the waterwithout any control.The waves were much higher than our boat,and the water poured in fasterthan the motor pumps could take it out.We all lost hope.We thought, this is the end.We were watching our deaths,and I was documenting it.

The captain told usthat we are not going to make it,we have to turn back the boat.We went on the deckand turned our torches on and offto attract the attentionof any passing boat.We kept trying to attract their attentionby waving our life jackets and whistling.

Eventually, we made it to a small island.Our boat crashing onto the rocks,I slipped into the waterand destroyed my camera,whatever I had documented.But luckily, the memory card survived.

It was a thick forest.We all split up into many groupsas we argued over what to do next.We were all scared and confused.Then, after spendingthe night on the beach,we found a jetty and coconuts.We hailed a boat from a nearby resort,and then were quickly handed overto Indonesian water police.

At Serang Detention Center,an immigration officer cameand furtively strip-searched us.He took our mobile, my $300 cash,our shoes that we should notbe able to escape,but we kept watching the guards,checking their movements,and around 4 a.m.when they sat around a fire,we removed two glass layersfrom an outside facing windowand slipped through.We climbed a tree next to an outer wallthat was topped with the shards of glass.We put the pillow on thatand wrapped our forearms with bedsheetsand climbed the wall,and we ran away with bare feet.

I was free,with an uncertain future,no money.The only thing I had was the memory cardwith the pictures and footage.When my documentary was airedon SBS Dateline,many of my friends came to knowabout my situation,and they tried to help me.They did not allow me to takeany other boat to risk my life.I also decided to stay in Indonesiaand process my case through UNHCR,but I was really afraidthat I would end up in Indonesiafor many years doing nothingand unable to work,like every other asylum seeker.

But it had happened to bea little bit different with me.I was lucky.My contacts worked to expeditemy case through UNHCR,and I got resettledin Australia in May 2013.

Not every asylum seeker is lucky like me.It is really difficult to live a lifewith an uncertain fate, in limbo.

The issue of asylum seekers in Australiahas been so extremely politicizedthat it has lost its human face.The asylum seekers have been demonizedand then presented to the people.I hope my story and the storyof other Hazarascould shed some light to show the peoplehow these people are sufferingin their countries of origin,and how they suffer,why they risk their lives to seek asylum.

Thank you.


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