For Falak, This Is His Life

For most of us, what’s happening in Lesvos, the EU-Turkey agreement, protests, refugees, borders, it’s all just words you read in the news…

But for Falak, this is his future. For Falak, this is his life…

This weeks protests in Lesvos have been against the new law to send refugees back across the water to Turkey…

Upon arrival in Lesvos, refugees are now detained inside Moria (the camp-turned-detention-centre), barely fed, kept in small groups, controlled by riot police, shackled in mind and left with little hope…

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Falak is a refugee who has so far managed to avoid this detention on the island, and was able to stand on the ‘wrong’ side of the fence, alongside volunteers in protest, in solidarity, as one, representing those on the other side, who were unable to stand up for their own futures.

As the protest went on, Falak called out to his brothers and friends barely visible through the bars of the compound, messages of support and comfort…

The volunteers urged him not to draw too much attention to himself while they did what they could to share the message that Greece should not be left to bear the burden alone.

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With whistles, drums, and peaceful chants, Falak and the volunteers stood for equality, for information, for integration, for dignity. They were strong, resolute, peaceful. Messages of solidarity were read out in different languages from all around the world.

But after a few hours, the volunteers had the option to finish the protest, once tired or hungry or cold. They had the option to go back to their hotels, to get some food, to go to sleep. Whenever they want to, they can hop on a plane to go home, back to normality, away from this pain…

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Falak has no such choice.

This protest was about his life. His future remains in the balance, as he faces likely deportation. He cannot remain in disguise and on the run. There is nowhere for him to run to…

You would expect him to be full of rage, but he’s not. He smiles, he laughs, he gives you the longest hugs when he sees you.

The volunteers have held two protests over the past week, one at the Moria detention centre and one at the port of Mytilini and the surrounding streets. Each time, they were joined by refugees like Falak, on the outside of the fence..but for how much longer?

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We refuse to give up hope in the fight against racist and dehumanising laws. For Falak, and the many others, this is a matter of life or death. We have the responsibility to not to just close the newspaper, turn off the TV, or scroll past the Facebook post…. We have the responsibility to stand up for one another.

Pictures by Nils O’Hara and words by the amazing Sim Gready

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