Torture Survivors Testimonies
“They put you in and undress you immediately, they leave you totally naked. They close your ears (…) the swearwords, the death threats, the insults of the policemen are something indescribable. They band you by the legs in a wood, they raise you up… and so as you are they begin to skin you from your legs up. They continue until your feet get totally ripped. After this very standard method, they put you in very cold waters. Then they take you off the cold waters and put you in a cement room. There they put you on hold. You are not yourself, your whole body is trembling. Your teeth are… like when you are cold your teeth are chattering … I didn’t get up from bed for one month after the tortures. Anyways my feet were swollen.”
“They do not let you sleep, they make noises with the chains, and there is psychological oppression as well as physic enforcement in the body directly. Besides the bare physical violence, there is psychological maltreatment; they do not let you sleep, they forcefully try for you not to get any sleep. You do not see anyone, you see always the same colors. But you hear the torture of the others, this impacts even your dreams. You sleep and you wake up as such.
“Basically, the aim is not only for you to be tortured, but to scare the whole of society by using you. They don’t hide the tortures. They are apparent. The medical reports that mention the beatings and the tortures are overt.”
People I know, couldn’t greet me, couldn’t say “hello”. They were scared. They were telling me openly “don’t say hello to us or don’t walk with us on the streets because they will arrest us because of you”.
“It was very difficult to come to Greece from Turkey. It was a very difficult passage. We crossed the Aegean Sea on a very little balloon (inflatable boat) with ninety more persons. It was really dangerous. It was 5th November, my birthday. We crossed the sea at 2.30. Fortunately, we were only 20 meters away from the coast. It was the first time, after the 20 meters that the balloon turned upside down. I fell in the water. The police came because of the screaming, the policemen came, caught us and put us in jail. The same day we went out of prison, at one o’clock at midday, at three, half past three, we used the boat again, this “balloon”. We sailed, in the middle of the sea, the Aegean Sea, it was really bad. The engine stoped working, people started screaming, and the waves started hitting us. Eventually, we arrived at the Greek coast. I was in Samos, there is Samos we did not have food, we could not be washed, there was nothing, we were like animals.”
“In Athens I live with fifteen other persons. We do not have food. Do you understand? Even for coming here. I only have one ticket, I have already used it, it is too difficult. To go to Katehaki (Asylum Service) I must have money to pay for the ticket. If you go to Katehaki at eight, you return at home at four, five o’clock in the afternoon.”
“There were some really difficult moments in prison. Somebody can grab everything from you – except from your human dignity. It was very hard, so hard that even talking about that frightens me, hurts me, the emotion I have inside me every time I talk about that is like a trauma. Even today it is an open wound, so when I say this story it is every time difficult for me, every time I mention this subject, every time I discuss it with others, it hurts me. Everyone that has gone through similar experiences with me, knows, it is so hard to explain. The tortures, huge and terrible tortures, nobody can admit even to his closed ones. “
“I did not see the sun – not even once, this was the worst, I did not know whether it was day or night.”
“There is not a day that passes without me remembering, there is not… it has now settled down a bit, there is some difference between who I was and who I am, it is different really… After all these tortures I was like someone crazy, like someone who is not normal and only thanks to the organizations that helped me to move into other things, they took me to the hospital, they took care of me and now I slowly start finding myself again.”
“That period, I was not only interested in obtaining the red card, but also to be healed, to recover my physical and mental integrity”. I was not so much interested in the papers. I was interested in my physical and mental health.”
“The Greek society accepted me because when you are at a reception country, where you managed to erase some of the terrible wounds that affected your life, already this is a country that you can never forget. When I came here there were friends who told me that we have to leave, I said no, I do not want to leave, I want to stay. Because, all these years that I have spent here, they looked after me, I started finding myself and if I go somewhere else, I will have to do this all over again, to start again from zero, so I believe that it is very important to stay… and see what will happen”.
“I am in Greece for four years. I queue to eat, to wash, to sleep, to take my papers… I queue to feel human. How long, tell me, how many more years do I have to queue?”