A voice, suddenly, says: Run!, and you run as fast as you can – in the dark, in the mud, the undergrowth, you fall and you stand up again, a light that turns on looking for you while you run, run, hearing the shots, the barking of the dogs, and you run, stumbling on a barbed wire, a noise of tearing, of fabric, of dogs, a rivulet of blood on your hand, but you run, you run, nothing else, you run as fast as you can.
I have learned what a border is in Israel. Or better, in Palestine: when I was working for Mustafa Barghouti. And every time that I landed in the airport, in Tel Aviv, going to Ramallah, I was terrorized of being sent back for unspecified “security reasons”. And lose not only my job, actually, but my home: my world: my favorite café, my streets, my sounds, my sesame biscuits, my friends – the Palestinians, and all the beauty they gifted me. Infinite times: in front of a policeman, hostage of regulations, of laws that you don’t even have the right to know, and you can’t appeal against, your life in the hands of a stranger that treats you like a number, a stamp, absent-minded, red or black – Next in line.
Infinite times happened: but never like last morning. In Kobani. A Turkish policeman closed the gate on me, because I had entered Syria illegally, a couple of days earlier, during the night, through the fields, “and go back to your Kurdish friends then,” he told me, pushing me away. From the other side of the gate, mortars were exploding everywhere. A second policeman moved me aside hitting me with his elbow. I was in the way of two coffins. He opened up for the coffins, but he left out me and a wounded man. The dead yes. The wounded no.
Only the dead, in Syria, find shelter in the end.
I never forgot Tel Aviv’s airport. And now that I am a journalist, when possible I always opt for the land borders: or else borders, for us Europeans, are invisible. In the worst case, we pay and buy the visa, without form to fill, application to send – everything’s taken care of by the travel agency. I felt so ashamed coming back to Italy from Ukraine, on the same bus that many of the caregivers that work in my country use – in the cold of the night, at the border with Hungary, them being searched, in a queue for hours, their luggage scattered and checked centimetre by centimetre, under the rain, the wind: me instead, in the warmth of an office, with a policeman offering me a coffee while telling me of his holiday in Venice. I meet the most different people, in the most different countries. But the ones that I talk to have a thing in common: all of them: they are all slaves of the place where they were casually born. They can’t travel. They can’t cross that gate. Never. Not even under airstrikes, not even when they are unloaded on their head an amount of explosive comparable to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, like this summer in Gaza. Two million people: trapped. The only war in the world lacking refugees.
If the Three Wise Men were born today, we should add a center for asylum seekers in our nativity scenes: because that’s where they will end up jailed.
“Go! Go!”, the policeman growled while pushing me back to Kobani. A mortar shell landed on the rubble, not far away, “Go! Go!”, he repeated nervously, while the return fire was starting, “I don’t want to stay here, it’s fucking dangerous, go!”, Go! And he fled to find shelter.
It’s in Kobane that I really got it. That I really became a European citizen.
A golfer hits a tee shot as African migrants sit atop a border fence during an attempt to cross into Spanish territories between Morocco and Spain’s north African enclave of Melilla October 22, 2014. Around 400 migrants attempted to cross the border into Spain, according to local media. Picture taken October 22, 2014. REUTERS/ Jose Palazon Italian version