This year, the Unlocking Detention blog is particularly focusing on the impact of detention on an individual’s immediate social circle – their friends and family. This piece is written by “Mishka”, of the Freed Voices group (the author’s name has been altered to protect their identity.)
Trigger warning: suicide; torture.
I am a twin. We are identical – he has long hair, but no beard. We came here together. We were young in our twenties when we came to the UK. We were always very, very close. We have a twin connection in our minds. I don’t feel physical pain when someone hit him on the other side of the world, but I feel it on an emotional level.
When we came to the UK, we only had each other. We lived in the same room. We went to the same university. We had the same part-time jobs. We always used to talk to each other. We always talked about the situation; why we came, what is happening back home because of our decision coming to save our lives, what we should do next.
We spoke a lot together about applying for asylum, but we were scared. The government back home tortured my mother because we left. And they told her we must never speak about what is happening in my country.
Home Office picked us up together from our home. They specifically came for us. They asked the landlady: “Are the twins in?”
It was just the two of us in the Tascor van. We thought that we are being sent to get killed. We thought we going to be deported back to our mother’s torturers.
They put us in the same room in detention. Just me and brother – the two of us. We supported each other. We tried to get all the evidence together. We faced the world together. We helped each other keep the fear down. We tried to keep each other positive about our case. We wanted to stay afloat. We played chess together to keep our minds off. We only had each other. We became strong together.
The water became really hot when they tried to deport us, but we refused to fly. They gave us another ticket for next month. But they gave my brother his ticket with departure date one week before mine.
And this is the other side of being a twin. When things are very bad, when you get separated, then there is great pain. This was the very worst month for us. My brother got really down mentally. He was very depressed. And of course, we are twins, so I also felt exactly the same. He told me that he would murder himself. He knew if we were sent back, we would get tortured or killed.
Two days before his flight, we were in the library looking for evidence. He said he going to the washroom. Even after ten minutes…I felt something bad is happening. I was too late. Blood everywhere…He cut his arms with a razor blade. His left a letter- it said: “I don’t want to face My Enemies and die. Please Home Office, don’t deport my brother.” He said afterwards that he felt “this is the only way to get the message across to the Home Office”.
I was shocked to see him all in red. I didn’t know if he would survive or not. I called the officers, the nurses. They came and they were so annoyed. They are thinking he is just trying to escape from his deportation. The nurse put a plaster on his wrists. He was taken to segregation. I was allowed to visit him a few times. He tried to commit suicide again using some metal piece from the wall.
On the morning of his flight, I asked to see him. I said it maybe last time I will ever see my brother. First, they refused. Then they said I can come visit him, but they make a barrier of tables. He was on one side, me on the other. He looked like he had cried a lot. His wrists were covered in plasters. When I looked at him, I wished it was me in his position.
The detention officer was standing on the side. He said the only thing we can do is shake hands. No hug. He said even this was out of procedures.
My brother said: “It is too late. I’m not sure what is going to happen to me.” We had promised to our father we would not return home. He made us swear we should never come back. My brother said: “I am sorry I am breaking that promise.” They took him.
This was the first time ever in my whole life we became separate. In childhood and growing up and studies and working…we are always together. No separation. I cried. The detention officer outside saw me and she tried to be kind. She said: “Don’t worry he will be fine.” I said, “No, you don’t understand my country…He won’t be fine.”
My brother was tortured for 6 hours at the airport when he landed. He was released and tortured again two days later. In this same bit – while I am still in detention, my brother got tortured – my father died. My brother sent evidence of his torture to my solicitor in the UK. My flight was cancelled. I was released.
We lost faith in humanity in detention. We were hopeful, positive brothers. We experienced hate in there. It changed the way I saw the UK. It made me think about all times the UK has interfered with other countries’ ‘human rights issues’. You see places like the detention centre and you understand this is a great contradiction. You see detention and you will realise things are being run by white-collar criminals.
My brother escaped my country again. He is still going through head-pain of detention. It was the beginning of his torture. It was the first chapter. I feel his torture in myself. And yes, I hate detention for this.
I feel like detention took away half of me. Detention split me in two.
This is why I want to speak out. I want people to know my story of detention. His story. Our story.