We spoke to a refugee from Syria after his deportation to Germany from Brook House, near Gatwick airport, UK. This is what he said.
I came from Syria to Turkey and then to Greece, and then from Greece to Germany, and then from Germany to the UK. Throughout the journey, I have been walking through wilderness with my crew. We witnessed all types of ripping off in terms of taking our money or whatever we own. We’ve been treated badly. We’ve been abused by the authorities and smugglers.
From Calais to the UK, I’ve also experienced bad treatment from smugglers. I tried three times to reach the UK. And then as soon as I arrived, I got detained and kept for 20 days.
When I was detained, they asked me to put an address. I put down my relative’s address and went there when I was released. When I got there, I spoke to a lawyer, who told me that all of my papers were fine and that I would not get deported. And then I even tried to start contacting the council for housing and financial help. I stayed in the UK for 5 months and a half.
Then suddenly, they arrested me from my home and took me to the police station. After the police station, we stayed for 2 hours on the road, not knowing where I was going. I ended up in Brook House.
When I arrived in Brook House, I hired another lawyer. People there told me that lawyers that take money are better. When I hired the other lawyer he assured me that it was a very simple procedure and that in two days, I would get out. Thirteen days passed and nothing happened—he didn’t file any papers or do anything. So then, I contacted an organization, which found me someone, another lawyer, to help me. The lawyer that I contacted helped me set a date with the Immigration Tribunal but I got that a day before the deportation. Unfortunately it was too late, so then I got deported.
I asked for a doctor because I heard of Rule 35 relating to torture. I was tortured in Syria and have marks on my body. I thought that having a Rule 35 report would help me. But it didn’t help me at all, especially since they gave me an appointment with the doctor after the day I was supposed to be deported.
Even the way that they entered the cell, when they wanted to deport us, was scary. Six guards entered the room. They did not take into consideration that I was tortured. I told them that I was tortured and that I am scared of prison. But they didn’t take that into consideration. I didn’t see the humanity they say exists in the UK, which is the reason I came here. I left Syria and different places in Europe because I heard it would be different in the UK. But I didn’t see the humanity in Brook House. They also did not take into consideration that the city that I am from in Syria is now in conflict. The Kurdish and Turkish forces are fighting there now and they didn’t take into consideration that the place where I am from is dangerous.
They are also shellings in the city where I’m from. There was a bombing there when I was in Brook House and my family is there. They also did not take that into consideration. The day before I got deported, I also burned my leg and told them about this, but I did not receive help. They just put cold water on it. And now my leg has gotten worse.
The way that they enter the cell is scary. They came and started saying that they wanted to restrain me in order to take me but I told them “No, please don’t do that, I can walk by myself”. They are doing exactly what they do in al-Assad’s prisons.
There were 12 of us on the deportation flight. They took us in a car and I was with five guards. I was in the middle and two were in the front and the back. They took us directly to the gate of the plane. I was not restrained because I said that I would not resist, but others were restrained. There was social distancing and we were wearing masks because of COVID-19.
As soon as we arrived in Germany, the German police took us in a bus to the station. They gave us tickets and told us to go back to the city where we gave our fingerprints. I know, and I have heard from others, that we will not be given asylum but will be given protection. I have a cousin who has been living in Germany for a few months and they only gave him protection, but no asylum. What will I do with protection? I don’t need this. Because if you don’t have asylum, you can’t bring your family here and you can’t travel. I have three kids who are in Syria. If I can’t bring them here, I will not stay away from them. So I might as well go back to Syria and live under the war than be away from them.
There are experiences of many Syrians who have lived there for 3 or 4 years and they only received protection. Until now they couldn’t get their families to rejoin them.
If they can give us asylum elsewhere, then they can do that. But they don’t want to do that. My uncle is in the UK, I have many relatives in the UK. I have no family members in Germany. I wasn’t headed to Germany, I was headed to the UK. My destination was the UK, not Germany. But they caught us in the smugglers’ car in Germany. They told us to give fingerprints, but told us that the fingerprints were for forensics, not for asylum. After I was released from the police station in Germany, I continued on my way to the UK. So I actually stayed in Calais more than in Germany. And now they want to send me back to Germany.