Banka Island, Indonesia

I went to Jakarta three times to get a registration card from UNHCR. On 17/9/2012 I got my first ID card from UNHCR.

Not long after our first attempt to go to Australia, we got a call from a smuggler to be ready. We went in a car with a driver and one person who worked with the smuggler. They transferred us to a place almost two hours away from Bogor and we arrived at a small house. We were the first group of 8 people. The driver said to stay there until the next night. It was a very small house. It was enough for just 20 people to stay in the 4 rooms, but there were around 160 people who stayed in that house. It was an empty house which didn’t have carpet. It was very hot without a fan. There wasn’t any water to drink. Everyone was thirsty. We were feeling really bad. The smell was very bad because everyone was sweating. We couldn’t open the windows because the police were on the road in front of the house. We couldn’t leave the house, so we just sat there. There wasn’t any place to relax, there was nothing to do. We did not sleep. We were there until the next night.

The trucks came at 8pm the next day. They came every 15 minutes or 20 minutes and were filled with 35 or 40 people. Raza, Karbaly, Ali Hakim, Asaf, and Khalile were transferred into a truck. Agha Zia, Fawad and I, and some other boy stayed in the house for the last truck. It came very late, 40 minutes after everyone else. After a one-hour ride we were arrested by the police. Everyone tried to escape but the police were ready. Around 70 people were arrested by police and transferred to the prison. Hakim Ali escaped. The police searched for him all night but they did not find him. Hakim Ali called my phone number and was afraid. The next night he arrived home and we were happy.

Raza, Karbalye, Asaf and Khilale were in prison. There were 6 people to a cell. Every week they were allowed free time to play football. They observed that the police didn’t pay much attention when they played football. They planned to escape from prison during this time. After 10 or 11 days, Raza escaped from prison. He came back to the prison to tell Karbaly, Asaf and Khalile how to escape. Next week Karbaly also escaped. We were very happy. The police found out how they escaped and closed the way. The others tried again but many were arrested and attacked by the police. Asif escaped with 45-50 people, but 30 were arrested. Asif arrived home after 2 days on the run. Khalile didn’t escape.

Twice we tried again. Twice we were arrested by police but we escaped and come back home.

Karbalye with Tahir try again to go by boat and finally after 4 times they are arrived at Christmas Island Detention Centre. After around 2 months, Tahir was released into the Australian community. Karbalye waited 6 months. They have temporary visas. Tahir sometimes speaks with me on Facebook and Skype. He tell about living in Australia and about Australian people. Very nice people. I wish one day I can live in Australia.

Hakim Ali talked with anther smuggler alone. He went on a boat but did not arrive in Australia and did not come back to Indonesia. He went missing at sea. We cried and felt sad for him. He was a such good man. He was with us almost 3 months. Hakim Ali’s parents are waiting for him. His parents don’t know Hakim died. We don’t know how to tell them Ali is not alive.

* This story has been edited for publication.

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