We arrived at Jakarta airport in Indonesia and were stopped by 3 police officers. There were eight of us in the group. They took us to Sabnoz Hotel in Jakarta, which is near the UNHCR office. The next day we went to the UNHCR office. It was very crowded. We all were given a number to register for UNHCR.
We took a car from the hotel to a house in Bogor. Three men were already living there: Raza Ahmadi, Muhammad Jan and Hakim Ali. They arrived 3 days before us. We joined them in the house they were renting. Everyone helped around the house. I was the cook assistant, but I didn’t know how to cook. I helped Tahir cut tomatoes, onions; tasks like that. Karbalye and Arif made the bread. Hakim Ali and Fawad washed the dishes. Agha Zia was oldest; he did not work. Raza and Muhammad Jan bought food from the bazaar and cleaned the home.
We all tried to find the telephone number for a smuggler to go by boat to Australia. When we got the number of a smuggler we chose one person to speak for us: Raza Ahmadi. Arif and Muhammad Jan spoke with another smuggler. The smuggler told Raza Ahmadi that the boat would be ready in 2 weeks. The smuggler wanted $6000.
The rules on how to pay the money to smuggler: if someone has cash, the smuggler gives discounts; if they don’t have cash, they send the money to a third person in an exchange market in Afghanistan or Pakistan. When the money is sent, $1000 is non-refundable, so if a person changes their mind and doesn’t want to go they only receive $5000 refund.
Arif and Muhammad Jan talked with another smuggler who said he was ready to take us. The smuggler told us not to bring phones; each group should only have one phone in case of emergency situation. We went with the smuggler to a villa that was located one hour from our home. There were around 50 people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran in the villa. The smuggler had rented other villas. There were around 180 people altogether, ready to go Australia that night at 7 or 8 o’clock. A lot of angkots (minibuses) came to the villa to transfer the people to another place; 11 people per angkot. We were moved into trucks; 35 or 40 people per truck. We were going far from Bogor. After five hours driving we were arrested by police. They wanted to transfer all the people to the prison. Raza and I escaped from the truck and we got a little injured because the truck was driving at speed. We went to the forest and we lost our way. We spent all night in the forest. After 3 hours we found a way out and we arrived at home the next day. All the people in our group were at home. They had also escaped. Agha Zia also had an injury when he jumped off the truck. He lost two teeth and broke his nose. The next day we knew all 180 people had escaped from the police and no one was in prison.
* All interviews have been edited and names and details have been altered to protect identities.