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Christopher Eccleston - The Witness' Tale - Refugee Tales

Jun 01, 2021
the story of the

witness

es told to Preston, your home, you remember before arriving in the capital of your country, you were born in the east, where a war that lasted decades was still brewing, all you could remember about that place was the light of the sun, heat, the smells of cooking in the heavy afternoon air, you were fired when your father moved with your family to the capital city you live by the sea in a group of old colonial houses that were once white but now they had taken on the color of sand you spent all your time when you weren't at school on the dusty streets between the rows of houses playing the local sport a complicated game with paddles and a ball and a lot of shouting you grew up it was a tree it could growing in sudden, surprising bursts followed by years where you barely seemed to change at all, let's call you Vee, this was the start of things.
christopher eccleston   the witness tale   refugee tales
B he was sitting at home at 16 studying or trying to study your father was in his barbershop in the center of the city a city that was on edge after a series of bomb explosions at 4:30 your father I came home unexpectedly with the news that your cousin of ours, who worked as your father's assistant, had been arrested, he was a suspect, your father said in one of the explosions that they believed your cousin was a member of the insurgency, you knew he was innocent and more He couldn't imagine an innocent and studious boy. After a few days, his father finally managed to take his cousin's case before a magistrate.
christopher eccleston   the witness tale   refugee tales

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christopher eccleston the witness tale refugee tales...

The magistrate said that since there was no evidence against him, the police could only hold him for 14 days during those days. he was tortured by the police this was very common where you come from so your mother gave jewelry to the policeman in charge of the police station where he was detained and your cousin was released this was also common you should say here that your father's older brother Una I was once a member of the insurgency, this was a long time ago and the war was another war no less complex than the war. Now the uncle had fled abroad and ours was not his son but your father's sister's son, still a few days later.
christopher eccleston   the witness tale   refugee tales
The police came to your house again, although this time there were four army officers with them, they asked very politely where your father was, he is upstairs, you said, but your father had heard the cars outside and was coming down the stairs. They already took you and your father and your poor poor thing and your cousin, all with their hands tied and black hoods over their heads, and even then you weren't particularly worried, everything had the wavering air of a dream, and, anyway, you were In the capital city, people disappeared in the east, where you were born, but not here, not in the shadow of the newly built World Financial Center, under the benevolent gaze of UN inspectors, you were taken to a police station and They were placed in three separate rooms.
christopher eccleston   the witness tale   refugee tales
They were surprised at how well you spoke their language, although you used the language of the East with your family, you had learned the language of the capital and you spoke it with the conviction of a native of that place, they told you that your father had confessed to them that he confessed to them that He was a former member of the insurgency your cousin who they said was a leader of the terrorist youth wing you laughed I don't know anything about this you said then they started beating you I don't know anything you said as they came in first with their fists and then with a black stick that they used your ribs your shins your ankles using more and more force until things started to break and burst I don't know anything you insisted you still have hard parts that should be soft because of those beatings much later a police officer came in this kinder gentler than the else I want my mother you said he allowed you to call her on the phone which station you were being held at so you could tell your mother she went to your local parliamentarian a good man the parliamentarian sent his private secretary to the prison he couldn't get your father and your brother but they released you because you were a schoolboy so the deputy told your mother on behalf of a certain person, the friend of a judge to whom money could be taken and who would pass on pleas, your mother sold the last jewels she had left and the next day your father and your cousin were home, everything had changed, although you lived in a gated community and the news traveled quickly through those dusty streets after your arrest, your neighbors looked at you like If you were a terrorist, more often than not You wouldn't look at you at all, you'd sit at home and listen to the screams of the kids playing the local sport, the way their voices rose with irritation or joy and you wish you could be out there with them running through the dust and dirt. air from the marine tank three days later and the final blow fell class, since you were the last in your class, the army found out that you had been released and came to your school to look for you, that day you were free due to illness, the school principal tried to resist, he told the school officials army that they were not allowed to enter the school they simply laughed at him they said that he was hiding insurgents the principal called you on the school intercom when you did not come he told them that you had a younger brother and that he called M the army officers did not let no word about where they had been taken the principal called your father and you went with him to school you and your father visited all the police stations in the capital city but none of them were holding him I told you that the army had taken him, not the police .
You had to apply to go to the army headquarters. You and your father tried to get written permission, but Leah refused. They never saw M again, neither you nor your father nor your mother, who loved him very much. Your father sent you to live with an aunt in the mountains where the air was fresh and the green flowers twined around the buildings and terraces down the slope you stayed there for three months and then your father sent for you life once again took on a dreamlike aspect a feeling of inevitability your father explained very little to you but the day after your return to the city he took you to present your English language exams you could barely speak a word it was your least favorite subject in school but he sat down to fill out the question paper anyway and handed it to you later your father would tell you that he had had a client at the barber shop, a white man, had explained everything to this man about the police and the army, about the beatings on them the man and his wife would help get you out of the country to find you asylum in the UK the man's wife met you afterwards about the exam she was very kind and spoke very quietly told you that you would receive a high grade on your exam that she would transfer money to your father's bank account but you would leave to start a new life in England the airport the plane your father rushing you disguising emotions with bustle you had said goodnight to your mother the night before and then before you knew it, you were climbing and rounding a long bank that allowed you one last look at the city at sunset beneath a futile attempt to make out your home somewhere along the faintly glowing coast, then up and up through the clouds and into the vastness of the air abroad you are greeted by your father's friend at Heathrow you haven't seen each other for a decade or more but the man is kind and cheerful he takes your bag and laughs as you marvel as his sat nav takes you to Leicester, the roads are wide, endless and grey, you meet his wife, you adjust to life there from time to time , you take the National Express coats to London, but the £300 your father gave you is spent at a terrifying rate in London, you go to a university in Lewisham. which she claims to offer classes in English and business studies, information technology and marketing, is completely chaotic.
You immediately see staff standing outside smoking or resting with their feet on their desks. If you pay your fees, you get a certificate. It's a compensation and you want it. nowhere here begins a part of your story where you seem to lose all agency and others use you and you seem to be used easily your father's friends seemed suddenly exasperated by your presence he dragged you to a big house in harvestin where there is a woman from your country who He offers a bed It's a small, sad room The musty smell Stains on the walls Your father's friend says he's going to buy you a new mattress and duvet He never comes back You go to a pay phone and call his cell phone over and over again You leave messages until you run out of coins.
The lady from your country says you can stay one or two weeks at most. Soon you turn 18 and you spend it alone in the sad little room you have. You have almost nothing left of your father's money. He finds a job at the Sand Valley restaurant, a place run by people from your own country. They say they can't hire you legally but you can work illegally. They'll pay you £150 an hour. The job is to clean up at 6 p.m. 6 am. you work 2 weeks non stop 12 hours a night sleeping during the day when you ask for your salary the manager says the first week was your unpaid training period so for two weeks work they give you just over a hundred pounds.
You're furious, you tell yourself you should find another job, but everywhere you go on your long, desperate daytime wanderings, people say they can't employ illegals; then, one night, the manager of San Valley, where you are still reluctantly working, tells you that there they are from the east of your country, there you go and sit with them and it is a pleasure to tell your story to chew those words that are like memories in your mouth, you tell them everything and the three men nod and hum and shake their heads and tell you that your story is sad and unknown you should be in France, they say, where asylum seekers are cared for so well, or in Germany, where the state would give you money, your own apartment, preparing you for a job, one of the short men. with a wispy mustache he says that he runs an agency that helps people escape the UK, which is a cruel, cold and unwelcoming place to find refuge on the continent.
Here you run the risk of being deported. The agent states that flights leave Heathrow every day and take people back to our country. one way ticket you go home you collect your belongings you say goodbye to the woman who is surprisingly sad that you are leaving and holds your hand as you leave you stay with the agent who lives in a big house in Cricklewood all the plasma TVs and tables of glass coffee and beds with thick duvets. His wife is pregnant and he prepared her dinner a traditional eastern dish. That night he sleeps better than he has since arriving in England, knowing that he will soon be in safer, more welcoming hands the next night.
The other men from the restaurant come to dinner, they ask to see your passport, they try to persuade you to exchange it for a fake one, you refuse, then the agent asked you to leave him your passport so he could obtain the required visa to enter France, this time, you gave it to him. allowed to take the passport early one morning you and the agent leave in his car it is dark and the dashboard lights up in blue and red he takes you to a McDonald's and buys you whatever you want finally you arrive in Folkston ready to board the Chunnel the English customs officials wave you through and then you arrive at the french passport control the agent holds up his passport and yours smiles slightly the french officer looks at them looks again he asked the agent to stop the car in a parking lot they take you to separate rooms it's just later that you found out that the agent has shown them a fake passport it was that your passport was shown to us the official asks your accent is difficult to understand if you say yes it was because you don't know and it seems hard to believe but this is one of the moments decisive moments of your life a mistake that will haunt the days, months and years to come they arrest them both and put them together in a room listen to the agent tell him I did something wrong I changed the passports I'm sorry I need yours for someone else someone in a desperate situation for Please don't tell the police that I have a baby on the way and they locked me up if you say it was your passport and that you are only 18 they will put you in jail for a week ten days maximum please I haven't been nice to you please do this For me I know so many police officers I will pay them to free you and you do it because you are good and you are innocent at customs The officers and police who interviewed you seemed at first bewildered, then angry with you, finally an older man enters and asks you: Did you try to enter France with false documentation? and you say: yes, yes.
I went before a judge in Brighton who gave a one-year sentence with automatic deportation, they sent you to Elm lis prison, in the marshes, where you feel that life is slipping away from you, everything sinks into the cold, damp earth, then you know to an interpreter II who is kind to you, you tell her the truth about the agent and the passports and the terrible mistake and she shakes her head sadly and tells you that since you have admitted your guilt there is nothing you can do after two weeks in Elm Lee, you're being transferred to the Rochester Young Offenders Institute.
I have been afraid, I have listeneddark stories of racism and bullying, but it's a good place where you make friends with the other kids who are nice to you, fascinated by your history, your stories of your country, they don't seem to realize that you are the only one among them. with dark skin you work in the garden you study you read books about Lenin and Gandhi books that were banned in your country so that they do not ferment the spirit of a revolution among the people the police come to see you again they tell you that the agent is actually a people smuggler who has been raping women trafficking them for sex who takes people from England to France and then picks up people in France who he smuggles to England they say if you help them it will be good for your appeal you will be a

witness

you say of course of course that you will be now a series of Appeals 9 detention centers in two years each as anonymous and labyrinthine as the last corn stream is perhaps the worst if you take a shower your room is flooded with what you complain about and then tell you to put up with it or They will put a red mark on your file.
Prison was better than this. You hear all the stories of the people there because you have stopped telling your own story so freely that there are detainees. from Sudan, from the Congo, from Nigeria, people who had lost their children and were half crazy with grief, young people who had seen their parents die before them, you lie in bed at night and hear sighs and stifled sobs, you imagine their stories wandering the halls of that place where you have never been anywhere so sad, more setbacks, more problems, you have a caste eylem, a silent case, they tell you but you are a criminal and criminals are a harm to the public, you will be deported, then there is no doubt. you receive a letter from legal aid saying that they cannot continue supporting your case again you feel that life is slipping away from you you try to imagine yourself back in your homeland and you discover that your appetite your energy your ability to sleep through the night they have abandoned you II the interpreter finds out that you have lost legal aid she comes to see you I just qualified as a lawyer she says you can be my first case she has been talking about you with her husband a police officer her husband believes your story he is a fool he is V but he's innocent you're granted bail although you have to keep a curfew you have to wear an electronic tag around your leg you move through a series of solitary government housing sensors then he finds you a place in the south near Portsmouth police come To see you again, the people smuggling gang will be tried at Maidstone Crown Court.
You will have to present evidence. They tell you that you can do it using a video link. Your hidden face. The traffickers will not see your face, but due to some administrative or administrative matter. mistake you are not hidden in some way but you must speak in front of the gang the agent is there sitting forward and looking directly at you with murderous eyes you talk to a girl just before entering the courtroom where she had been raped the agent and she tells you Thank you for speaking. Their words give you courage and then you tell the truth about the passport about your time with the agent.
They give each of them seven or eight years. When they leave, they shout in the language of your home that he will find you and kill you, wherever you go. go into the world they will hunt you down and kill you like a dog now you live in limbo negotiating the rabbit holes and dead ends of bureaucracy you are 23 25 27 appeals and counter-appeals have been heard and appeals rejected before the Ministry of the Interior before the Commission of Review of Criminal Cases they pass you from one court to another they offer you hope and then this hope is taken away from you Years have passed and soon the smugglers will be free the police thanks you and even the Ministry of the Interior The office writes you a letter of gratitude apparently without knowing that they are trying to deport you, they tell you that they will protect you, but you know that the smugglers have ties in your country of origin, they will bring you here or there, you think you wake up scared.
In the mornings you talk to only a handful of friends, you try not to talk too much, you have started to look back when you walk, your life goes by, you realize this and eventually an appeal will be the final appeal and a decision will be made. It will be done and at least that will be some kind of ending for you.

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