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Abdul Samad Haidari

Origin: Afghanistan
Host: Indonesia

Abdul Samad Haidari only carries what is necessary for the long road ahead, yet Abdul’s trusted backpack bears more than just his belongings. A gift from his beloved brother. The ‘bombed soil of his hometown’ and ‘shards of childhood memories’ all take up space inside this former journalist, writer and poet’s constant companion- an inseparable part of his experience of forced displacement.

Home Rides in Backpack

This poem highlights my personal life as a refugee during the time when I was sleeping on the pavement. I had no one with me, no hope to move on…

Abdul Samad Haidari has experienced forced displacement since he was only 8. Originally a member of the Hazara community from Afghanistan, Abdul is the fifth generation in his family running for protection. Though he still remembers his happy childhood memory before the rise of the Taliban, the destruction caused by the war has never faded out.

“More than 62% of my tribe, Hazaras, are gone under the slow-grinding genocide.”

They turned temporary tents that were used as schools for Hazara’s children to a battlefield. It had been a week of genocide against the Hazaras. His little sister, Hakima, was murdered, and many injured. It was during 1996-1997 when the Pashtun Taliban attacked his village Dah Mardah-e-Gulzar. When the war and massacre reached a scale akin to ethnic cleansing, his family decided to escape with the help of human smugglers. He ended up in Pakistan and then Iran at the age of 8 after a 13-day journey and 3 months in captivity.

War took away everything, my little sister, my life, my childhood, no way to escape so I had to leave everything behind in Afghanistan. My childhood memory was being chased and walked to captivity. At the age of 8 to 10, I ran and ran across the border looking for protection and safety. That was when my childhood started and ended.

He faced many different forms of human rights abuse that gradually filled him with pain. Having no one to run to, he started releasing his pain through writing and falling in love with poems. He developed his writing skills out of pain. Unfortunately, he was deported back to Afghanistan, it was when he started working as a journalist.

Working in the news, he was actively criticizing controversial social and political issues, including unjust child and women rights violations and aggression under the Taliban law. In the meantime, Abdul was also involved with humanitarian organizations that were seen as harmful by pro-Taliban traditionalists. He was pressured and targeted. The violence accelerated when his editorial colleagues disappeared, and his family members were kidnapped. He decided to finally leave Afghanistan again.

Autumn 1996-1997
Driven away by Taliban

“The Pashtun Taliban attacked my village Dah Mardah-e-Gulzar and war reached a cleansing scale of massacre. I with my family fled to Pakistan and Iran.”

Finished school in Pakistan

“I started my education in Pakistan after being deported 3 times from Iran. I completed my secondary education there. My father and brother too were deported from Iran, so they came to be with us in Pakistan. Then, the security situation got worst in Quetta, Pakistan.”

Returned to Afghanistan

“I returned to Afghanistan – thinking that the security situation had improved and that I could help my people to rebuild our war-torn country. I started my career as a journalist and humanitarian aid worker.”

After 2007
Attacked and kidnapped

“As a journalist, I covered controversial stories. Soon my uncensored writings became unpalatable and my life was threatened. As a result, I fell to the hunt of religious circles, war lords, and government officials.”

2014 – present
Feld from Afghanistan

“I reached Indonesia
and sought protection. It has been 7 years that I have been waiting and finding a place where I belong.”

He has been in Indonesia for 7 years waiting to be resettled. For him, Indonesia was not an option. It is the destination he couldn’t even choose. “People always misunderstand refugees. When I was asked why I came here, Indonesia, it was really difficult to answer. In reality, refugees actually don’t have a choice. It’s not in our hands. We can’t choose where we will end up.”

Imagine your house is on fire. In order to save your life, you don’t see it’s west, south, or north. You just run. You don’t see it’s a door or window. You just have to jump out of the house.
His journey to Indonesia, the country he didn’t choose.
*WARNING: This audio may be disturbing for some individuals.*

He mentions that he can call Indonesia his home if he could have full rights to exercise, feel safe, and be protected. Unfortunately, what he can do is only wish for an ideal home and live in reality with a backpack – his most trusted companion.

His ideal home and the trusted backpack.

Find The Red Ribbon by Abdul Samad Haidari at Goodreads.

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