Who Killed Reza?

He closes the door to his apartment, takes off his shoes and jacket in the corridor before going into the living room. He sits on his armchair and opens his iPad to play The Search by NF. After a minute he gets up, goes to the kitchen and drinks a glass of cold water. 

– I’m finished, he says and takes off his shirt to hang it on a chair in the kitchen before going back to the living room and sits down again with a picture of his old deaf Mom in his hand and tears in his eyes. 

– I tried hard Mom, he says. But humanity seems to have ignored us. 

It is a cold December evening, the streets are empty and white by the snow and the light in the room is dim. The big Christmas tree outside the window is glowing with different Christmas lights, mostly red and yellow. 

Reza has just come home after having his fourth – and longest – interview in three years with the Swedish migration office. He is sitting silently, gazing at his Mom’s photograph, but inside his head there is a deadly war of negative thoughts going on. He thinks the interview went bad, just like the previous three ones, and he is sure he will get rejected gain. 

The process has been too stressful and Reza is tired of trying again and again to convince the migration board that he is not lying about him not being born in Afghanistan but in Iran! He thinks nobody understands him and his needs, especially not the staff in the migration office. They don’t believe in Rezas story about how horribly he and his deaf mother was treated by the authorities in Iran. They don’t believe in anything he says and that is why his case has been rejected three times so far.

Reza came to Sweden as an unaccompanied minor on November 2015, like many other children. He registered himself and got a card from the migration board to identify that he was in the asylum-seeking process, and meanwhile a place to stay at. But the process has been too long, too tiresome and every time Reza went to an interview he knew by the harsh behaviour of the interviewer that he would get rejected. Another main reason has been the lack of proper guidance by his lawyer on how to present his case to the migration office.  

Reza is born and raised in Iran, but his parents originally come from Afghanistan. His childhood was different from other children in the area he lived in in Iran, because he was always busy working with his father to provide for the family, while other children went to school and played in the park when they wanted to. 

In his early childhood Reza lost his father in the hospital after a car accident. The doctors wouldn’t do the operation because his father wasn’t Iranian. And his mother lost her hearing from the shock. Reza worked day and night to pay for the Iranian surgeon who had promised to help his mother get her hearing back. But After several years of hard work and paying for the treatment, he finally realized that the doctor had lied to him and took all his money for nothing. He couldn’t complain because nobody would listen to an Afghan child with no identity, so he gave up and got depressed.

Rezas mother was wise, she thought it was wrong if her beloved son also stayed in Iran to suffer like his father, or even worse, die one day just like him. Therefore she decided to send Reza to Europe, hoping to give him an opportunity to live in peace and build a better future for his children. Going back to Afghanistan was not an alternative, they had nobody and nothing left there.

– Enough is enough, says Reza and gets up. This has to end today. He goes to the wardrobe, gets one of his shirts and tears it in pieces to make a rope. Then he goes back to the living room, puts a chair under his feet to fasten the rope to the fan, and hangs the rope around his neck saying:

– I’m sorry Mom, I’m really tired … I just wish I could have seen you one more time.

The next second he kicks the chair away … And so ends the chapter of Rezas life,

slowly,

tragically, 

painfully. 

In the evening the staff of the camp finds Reza hanging, with some blood on his poor mouth and eyes wide open. They call the police and within an hour the body is taken to the hospital by an ambulance. And the next day life in the camp goes on, as if nothing ever happened there – as if Reza didn’t even exist. 

The question now is: whose fault was it that Reza committed suicide? Was it because of the irresponsibility and carelessness of the Swedish government or the endless war in Afghanistan which caused his parents to flee to Iran and him to be born homeless? Or was it the inhuman and cruel behavior of the Iranian state which took the life of his father and destroyed his life? Or maybe his life – as he lately strongly felt – didn’t have any value at all? 

Nobody knows what happened to Reza’s mother, if she got the news of her son’s death or not, nor if she is still alive. And if she is alive and got the news? I wonder how she  reacted! Did she even survive the heart breaking news of losing her son? Her only hope and the reason for her to wake up everyday and go through life’s drama. Maybe like many other mothers in similar situations, her only wish was to work everyday to get some money and buy a credit card so she could call her son and hear his voice once in a while! But she was deaf, so maybe she never did hear her son again …

This story is not only about Reza, in the past few years tens of young immigrants have committed suicide in Sweden. And the major cause of their painful action has been the endless stress and worry caused by the Swedish migration office. But unfortunately not much is done in honor of those young people, because they were not “Swedish Citizens” as it is put when somebody questions the authorities. 

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Faiaz Dowlatzai is a young author living in Sweden. He is the chairman of The Alliance of Unaccompanied minors in Sweden and works as teacher and student assistant at Vinsta Public School. 

To Faiaz fleeing his home country has meant fighting for his life and his future, defeating darkness and death, reaching the light. He says some will succeed, many will not. Faiaz is now writing on the second book in a triology about his and his siblings flight. The first book was published in 2019.

Faiaz Dowlatzai