human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Behzad Alikhani’s story #whatishome

I was born and grew up in Salmas, in the Kurdish region of Iran. 60% Kurds and 40% Azeri (Turkish). It is a small town of some 200K inhabitants. Life was good. I lived at home with my parents and my siblings. I have five brothers and a sister. (Three of them are in Belgium along with me and the other three are in Iran). I went to school, I played with my friends. A regular life. When I was 17 year old, I started to become interested in politics. I started to question why the government doesn’t allow us to speak and write in Kurdish, why Kurds are discriminated in the labour market. I got involved in politics.

After a year or so, the police came to my place to arrest me. Luckily I wasn’t there. My parents immediately helped me to prepare my escape. And I left within 48 hours. I just had a backpack with some basic stuff. Some money. I got a ride to the city of Senji and then I walked a couple of hours until I reached the Turkish border and crossed over.  On the Turkish side, another car was waiting for me and brought me to the city of Van. From Van I went to Istanbul and there I got a ride on a truck to Brussels. I was hidden in the lorry’s side. My brothers were already living there. So it was a clear choice.

Now I am in Brussels. I’ve been living here for 3 years. I applied for asylum based on political reasons. It was approved by the Belgian authorities. The whole process took 3 months.

I have a job, I have a place to stay, I have friends, my brothers. I am happy, I feel at home, free. The dark side of this is that I would never be able to return to Iran, at least under the current circumstances.