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Alyaa's voice Alyaa's voice
by Amir Khatib
2019-02-02 10:27:59
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“How this world can be so unjust and so oppressing becoming worse and worse all the time?” That was Alyaa’s respond to my question: “how are you?” and this was enough to make me really worry about her and her boys.

refu001_400Alyaa lives in a refugee camp since 2015 with her two sons. She asked me to join an exhibition the European Migrant Artists Network (EU-MAN) was planning to do this May in Stockholm. She is an artist, graduated from the Baghdad Art School in late 1980s.

“Finns do not really care about us. Finns just talk and show sympathy, but no one does really something. What shall we do? My life is in danger and my sons’ as well. We were Shia living in a Sunni area and my husband worked for the last government, civil servant. The new government accused him as Saddam’s collaborator.”

She tried to explain their situation here and there, a depressing situation that I’m not sure written words can transmit. The feeling of despair and helpless surrounds her and she desperately wanted to participate in this coming exhibition. I promised her to do the best I can to help her and she said: “you know Finns love art and peace, and I try showing my skills to them by participating in many local exhibitions, but even that does not help.

“Sunnis deported us from the area we lived, they took our house and we were forced to live in a Shia area.  Shias knew that my husband was working for Saddam as chief engineer in Baghdad Airport so first they started harassing us, then they forced us to go as far as we could, and then the threats got more serious. They were threatening to kill my husband, and as you know Iraqi women are not exactly in a good situation in Iraqi society, so I could not defend myself. Therefore I was also forced to move.

“I faced many difficulties in my life, I’m not complaining, but I want the Finnish authorities to understand me and to believe me as well. Fourth year in this camp and the only thing we get is rejections from the authorities. I actually found a job and when I gave the contract to the refugee authorities to get work permit they reject the contract. No excuse. And now I do not know what to do.”

As an artist I do appreciate her works, she definitely has skills and she can produce  good art if she can …get on truck. She is sculptor working in the room that she lives with her sons just to fill the dark time, to be busy and keep out of all the negative feelings that surround her.

She sent me her art works, and I told her that she can participate in our mutual exhibition in Stockholm joining a group of 40 artists from all around the Arab world, and other nationalities.

Oddly and sadly, the Finnish immigration authorities reject her asylum application with the excuse: why your husband did not came with you to Finland to apply like you?

Her sons are growing fast and now they have reached their 16, they love the Finnish environment they are growing up in, and they always cry “mum, we do not want to go back to die in an Iraq that always lives in a war.

I hear you Alyaa and I hope they will let your voice be heard.

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