I meet Ramin, an Afghani asylum-seeker, in the city center of Helsinki. He has now been here for about a year and has one negative decision from the Finnish Migration Service. As I cross the street despite the red lights for pedestrians while he calmly waits for the light to turn green, I realize something that his story will confirm. He is scared, and he has been scared for a long time.
In 2006 Ramin fled from his hometown Daikundy, an Afghani town located close to Daya, where the majority of the population are Taliban. At the time, he was working as a teacher with a US funded agency. According to Ramin, someone from his hometown reported to the Taliban about his job. He was forced to leave in the middle of the winter. “My friend told me I should go, that if I’d wait until spring they would arrive, and kill me”.
Ramin fled to Kabul where he was able to study for one semester until the Taliban found out about his location. They started calling him frequently, at first wanting to meet him and asking questions about his location and his job. He knew that he was speaking to the Taliban based on their accents. As the calls increased, they openly introduced themselves as Taliban, and threatened him.
Ramin was told they knew where he worked and what car he was driving. He didn’t tell his friends where he was living, but as he was working for the authorities (Ministry of Urban Development and Housing), the Taliban were able to find out his location. The death threats increased. Instead of taking the bus that transported employees to work every morning, Ramin travelled by motorcycle dressed in different clothes. In the end he lived under cover for a month, scared for his life. Then he came to Finland, after a long and dangerous journey.
“I was confident that the documents I provided would be carefully read and treated, and that my decision would be positive. I got my answer and went to the police, they told me I am not in danger in Afghanistan. They said they didn’t believe my documents because there are a lot of fake documents in Afghanistan. They say I should prove I am in danger. They asked if I’ve seen the Taliban face to face- I said I would be dead now if I did. They said Afghanistan is safe- it is not. I am not a governor or a minister with a bodyguard. I am a normal, public person, I have no protection. They know that anyone working for the government is not living in Afghanistan because it is too dangerous”
There is no help to get in Afghanistan as the government is unable to provide shelter or security for citizens. The UNHCR have stated that the Taliban deliberately execute people working in the public sector. According to the Taliban, working with authorities and internationally funded projects is against Islam and makes you an infidel (non-believer). Despite this information and the daily life threats Ramin faced in Afghanistan, his application was declined by the Finnish Immigration Service.
Why do you think that Migri does not believe your story? What happened in the process that made them decline your appeal?
“I had an Iranian translator, the language they speak is similar but different. She didn’t understand some of the words- for example she misunderstood the title of my work. In the documents it says “work office”, but I worked for the ministry. There were a lot of these mistakes.” (In the interview record the Ramins job has been translated into “työvirasto” (agency), although Ramin was employed by the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing.)
“I showed them all the documents, a lot of my documents were with the person who interviewed me, I explained all the documents. I had a photocopy of an official card proving that I was employed by the Ministry, I asked if it was enough and he said yes.
The lawyer didn’t do her job correctly. The mistake was that she didn’t tell me she wasn’t working on my case. She took copies of all the documents and I told her my story. After 2-3 months I wanted to add some documents, and I called her, but she told me she wasn’t working on the case anymore. I tried to find out who was my lawyer and called the agency to find out. My teachers and doctor finally called them and I sent an email again. Now I have an appointment next week. I still don’t know who it is”
According to the Finnish Immigration Service Ramin’s statement regarding the nature of his work was short and general, lacking significant examples of why he would be profiled due to his professional position. However, during the interview Ramin was not asked to elaborate his given answers about his job and the interviewer did not instruct him to further describe the nature of his work.
The Finnish Immigration Service does not find Ramin’s statement about working as a teacher realistic, and do not believe that Ramin was threatened in Daikundy. They claim that there is nothing in Ramin’s case that supports the statement indicating that Ramin has faced threats by the Taliban.
What are your options if you get denied another time?
“I will kill myself for sure. I cannot continue living. I can’t go back. The government of Finland knows what is going on in Afghanistan, I gave them a lot of documents and they don’t believe me. The only hope I have now is because I am studying and my teachers motivate me, otherwise I would have no reason to keep living. I try to keep myself busy so I won’t have so much time to think because I am so stressed. I can’t sleep at night because I am afraid, and now I eat sleeping pills that I got from the doctor but they don’t make me feel good, they make me forget things.”
What happens if you go back to Afghanistan?
“If I go to Afghanistan, I need an ID card. As soon as they register that when I enter the country, the Taliban will know where I am. I also fear for my parents. They have told the Taliban that I am dead, if I come back they will kill them too. They’ve been looking for me in my village. My lawyers and the social workers didn’t pay attention to this information.”
Ramin is currently keeping himself busy by studying for the Hygieniapassi and waiting to meet another lawyer next week. If he gets to stay in Finland, he wants to continue studying, hopefully medicine.
According to the Finnish Immigration Service; “The basis of all asylum decisions made by the Finnish Immigration Service is unconditional non-refoulement. According to non-refoulement, no one can be sent to a country where he or she faces a risk of being subjected to the death penalty, torture, persecution or other inhuman or degrading treatment (…) Persons facing the risk of persecution are granted asylum and subsidiary protection if the persons face the risk of being subjected to serious harm.”