I’m Ahmad Farhad Farrokhzad, an Afghan immigrant journalist living in Turkey. I started my journalism work as a producer and reporter for Quyash Radio in Faryab Province, Afghanistan.
Then I switched to Jahan Nama TV station, later I worked at Radio Haqiqat in Samangan province and at Police and People monthly magazine. After that, I became a reporter and cameraman for the Press Department of Samangan Police Department. As a defender of human rights, children’s rights and women’s rights, and a voice for the oppressed, I became an immigrant and left my home, work and country at risk of persecution and threats from the Taliban.
However, immigration to Turkey is difficult and even considered a crime. In order to earn a living, I have to do manual labor in a factory.
Approximately three months ago, I was arrested by the regional police while on my way to work and taken to a district for the crime of being an immigrant. Upon arrival, I was subjected to a search and had personal items such as phones, watches, belts, and even shoelaces confiscated. I was then transferred to a supervision house where I encountered other immigrants, some of whom were sick or injured. I also suffered from a severe respiratory allergy. The facility had no food or water, and we were forced to pay a policeman to buy bread for us. We shared our struggles with each other and were kept awake until late at night before being sent to the Tuzla camp.
Upon arrival at the Tuzla camp, I underwent a medical examination and was placed in the fourth block. Due to the high number of migrants, the rooms were full and I was forced to sleep on the football field out in the rain. I was cold and wet for two days before being moved to a dirty, smelly room. Each meal consisted of a sandwich, a bottle of water, and fruit juice. After two days, I was registered. However, the poor condition of the room caused my allergies to flare up and my feet to become injured. On the third day at 10 pm, I was transferred from the Tuzla camp to Kastamono by the gendarme. There, I was placed on a school’s sports field and received food and water from the immigration department. My file was also created, but I was made to sign several papers without being given the opportunity to read or understand them. I spent three days in Kastamono before being transferred to the Erzurum Askale camp at night, with plastic handcuffs on my wrists to prevent me from escaping.
Fieldwork with the security commander and personnel in the Dara Suf district of Samangan province in 2016
Upon arrival at Erzurum’s Askale detention camp, I found that all my belongings including my mobile phone, watch and AirPods were missing. It was confiscated after a physical examination and never returned to me. I was detained there for almost two months and fifteen days. I was only allowed to make phone calls once a week for fifteen or ten minutes, after a long and very dark period I was released from camp by the defense attorney who had represented me for $2000 USD. They sent me to the city of Sivas where I had no place to live. Nevertheless, the immigration authorities asked for a residential address and several other papers, which I could not provide due to the lack of legal documents.
They didn’t register me and I was forced to return to Istanbul in an illegal status. I am always in a state of distress and fear, haunted by the risk of being deported back to Afghanistan, where my life is in imminent danger and being pursued by the Taliban. Life in Turkey is not easy either. As a person living without legal documents, I cannot move freely, work legally and live peacefully.