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(en) Czech, AFED: Voices of Notara 26 (II.) -- The second in a series of interviews with people who are part of the Athens refugee squad Notara 26. [machine translation]
Thu, 23 Jan 2020 07:35:40 +0200
2. Kargar-e-sorgh ---- I was a political and labor activist in Iran. In Ahvaz, southern Iran, I worked in a large metalworking factory and
was active in the workers' movement there. ---- So you were a unionist? ---- No, I wasn't in the unions. All trade unions in Iran are
controlled by the regime. We organized spontaneous strikes and demonstrations, we were a bottom movement. The workers in our factory and
other factories near Ahvaz were very active. The movement was growing for about four years, and two years ago we had a lot of events and
demonstrations. In October 2018, 3000 workers took part in the strike. The strike lasted forty days and was one of the biggest and longest
since the revolution. I was part of a coordination group for this strike.
I was arrested on October 23. They told me, "We'll let you go on condition that you go back among the workers and tell them to end the
strike and agree to the bosses' requests." I agreed and they released me. But then I went to the demonstration and said the exact opposite
of what they wanted from me.
I said, "Our hearts are ready for your bullets. But cops can't kill us, they can only kill fear in our hearts. "
We occupied the factory. Two days later the police attacked people's homes at night and 41 arrested them. We decided to occupy again, but
this time we stayed inside the factory all the time. The police surrounded us completely, but we stayed for another five days.
After those five days, some colleagues managed to get a van inside, as if they were normally moving material, hiding inside, and taking me
outside. I managed to get out of Ahvaz and hid myself. At our factory, a lot of workers were arrested and showed on national television a
documentary accusing me of being an Arab separatist. No matter if you are an Iranian, Kurd, Arab, whatever, he will easily accuse you of this.
How did you get out of Iran?
I got to Turkey through the mountains. I was arrested again in Turkey because I had fake documents and went to jail for 50 days. I spent 4
months in Turkey, almost half of them in prison. I experienced a lot of racism there because I didn't speak Turkish.
How I got to Greece is another story. I tried three times, crossing the border in Evros. In the first two attempts I was caught by Greek
soldiers. They beat us up, forced us to take our clothes off and threw him into the river. Then they sent us back to Turkey.
I was most afraid of Greek soldiers, but of being caught by Turkish soldiers when I returned to Turkey. I was afraid that if I was arrested
again in Turkey, I would be deported back to Iran.
I finally made it. When I got to Greece, I was afraid of real fascist attacks. After experience in Turkey and at the border, I thought the
whole world was full of fascists and racists and that it would be just as bad in Greece. This still bothered me.
The day after I arrived in Athens, I came here, to the Exarchy. And I thought: Wow, that's great!
I couldn't speak a word in Greek, but nobody minded. The first place I went was K-Vox (occupied café and social center). I didn't know
anybody, I just came over for coffee. I almost couldn't understand, but everyone laughed at me! It made me feel great. I felt like I was
somewhere where skin color, tongue, the way you dress meant nothing. I found that nobody cared about this in the Exarchy.
Later I met a friend, a comrade I knew from Iran. He brought me here to Notary. I do not live in Notar, I come here from solidarity. When I
came here I felt that I was in a place where people were part of a movement, a common struggle. I feel close to people here, I feel that we
share the same ideas.
What does Notara mean to you?
This place has become very important to me. I say to people here: You can count on me at all times, if you need to wash the toilets, I'll do it.
Then in October, evictions began and the police began threatening Notar. When I saw people in the streets going to demonstrations, I decided
to get more involved. Maybe I can't do much, but I feel it is important to come here and support my friends. Raise their mood. If the police
arrived now, it might endanger me, but I don't care. I try not to think about my personal situation, I'm happy because I'm here with my friends.
Notara is a great experience for me. Seeing people live and work this way, share that place without any great difficulty. Seeing people from
different countries come to show their solidarity. Seeing people treat themselves as equals, all at the same level, no matter where you come
I am happy that this movement has accepted me and considers me a comrade. The squatting movement and the streets of the Exarchy taught me
that our struggle, our struggle, has no geographical limits, it does not relate to one place. We all come from different places and speak
different languages. But we share one language - the language of struggle.
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