"Coyote" Part 1
Dream of a new life
First an explanation
I could say that I'm not trying to make a political point, and I'd be lying! I am, and I'm proud of the fact that I am, but ask me what the point of the story is and I'd tell you it's that we really need to stop and listen, not to the politics, not to the cries from either or any side of the spectrum that insists that they and only they have all the answers, but we need to stop and listen to the voices of the people who had to run. run for their lives, often with only the clothes that they wore.
They often ran, not to the refugee camps, they were only slightly less lawless than the countries they came from, but fled to the cities and into the arms of some of the most unscrupulous people you'll ever meet, into the dens and lairs of the 'Coyote' the people smuggler.
I'll be totally upfront here, this is a story that I struggle with, I've no idea what the answer is, and I think the story will lead you possibly to a different conclusion than that I have, I"m okay with that, If you've read the story then at least you've taken the time to read what it's like for the people on the 'other side' people running for their lives, far from home and facing unimaginable dangers.
The story is a true one, naturally I've changed the names of the people in the story, it took place about twenty or so years ago, but the story is the same all over the world, have a think how you would respond.
Every story has a beginning
The rain was coming down hard as they made their way along the cornice, the wind blowing in from the east didn't help things as it brought the bitter cold straight off the Siberian plains.
There were three of them, a man in his early thirties, a young woman and a child, no older than two or three years, cold and wet, the child was crying and hungry, but the man had insisted there was one thing they had to do even before they got to their hotel.
"Are you really sure about this?" he turned and asked his wife. He was worried, no, make that terrified that they might be doing the wrong thing.
"Do you really trust him?" she replied back, "Do you really trust that he'll come through for us?"
"But" he replied, "If things fall apart, without them, we'll be stuck, nowhere to go, no one to turn to!"
"And if we're caught with them" she replied, "We'll be returned home, back to Baghdad, you know what that'll mean don't you" she sounded deeply upset, they were Iraqi and they loved Iraq with a devotion they couldn't put into words, but they were also Christian, and that meant growing up as a second class citizen in their own country, a country where they could trace their ancestors right the way back to even before the time of Jesus, but they were foreigners in that country and always had been.
"But Hamid said to keep them with us, it'll help when we cross the border" Samir replied, "I'd hate to lose the chance of getting through because we didn't have our passports!"
"You yourself said you didn't trust Hamid" Sara replied. "Samir, I can't explain it, but something tells me that Hamid's up to no good!" She stopped to nurse little George as they walked, "We need to throw the passports away, before we're caught and returned back to Baghdad"
"But if they catch us" Samir reasoned, "they'll return us there anyway, then what will we have gained?"
"I don't know, maybe it'll take them longer to work out who we really are?" it was half a question and half statement, "maybe it'll buy us time!"
"I'm still not convinced" Samir said, "but I tell you what, Hamid said we're sending the luggage on ahead of us, sending it tonight, maybe we should put them in the luggage, that way, when we get to the other side we can still use them, I'll need to prove my ID when we get to London, to get the money out of the Bank, what about that?"
People smuggling "Big Business"
The place they were staying was a small 'hotel' just ten minutes drive from the airport. A small 'inconspicuous' place that tourists from the Middle east often stayed at when they visited, not as sumptuous as the places the westerners stayed at, but just good enough for them to 'blend in; to the background.
It wasn't that the family was poor, they weren't, in fact before the invasion of Kuwait, they'd been a pretty wealthy family, the kind that could afford a trip to Europe once every few years, Samir's father had done business in Europe and as a result they had a pretty healthy bank account in England with at least £10,000 in the account! (that was what Samir knew about, and was without the interest that it'd earned in five years of not being touched) but as soon as the War in Kuwait happened, all those accounts were frozen.
When an account like that is frozen, the Banks often seemingly being generous say, "If you present yourself, with proof of identity, you can have the money," knowing full well that there'a no way on earth they can get there, they reckoned without Samir, 'If there's a way to get there, I'll find it' he often thought to himself, this was his way!
"What time are they picking up the luggage?" Sara asked Samir, he'd been the one to make the arrangements.
"He didn't say" Samir replied truthfully, "He said to have the bags ready tonight, leave them with the hotel manager and he'll arrange for the pick up, something about too much weight on the boat, so they're sending them by road in a truck!"
By the time they got back to their hotel the rain had stopped, but they were totally drenched, cold and miserable. George was crying, he was so hungry, the last time they'd eaten was in Jordan before they boarded their flight, that was nearly twenty four hours ago.
They'd brought as much money as they were legally allowed to carry out of Iraq over the border into Jordan, Iraqis were still officially allowed over the border into Jordan, but there was always a price to pay, one member of the family had to be left behind so that they would return, if they didn't then Saddam would take great delight in executing the family member.
Samir's parents were both dead, victims of one of the many purges that just happened for no apparent reason, apparently someone had found out about the money in London and decided they were too much a 'flight risk' that would make the regime 'look bad'. Samir didn't ask how it had happened, he just found out the usual way one day when he came back from the Army (just before Kuwait) and the family were gone! They missed his wife, but that was because they'd only been married a few weeks and the 'paperwork' hadn't trickled through, but it was only a matter of time!
Samir did have one brother, alive and well, and living in Australia, it was his dream to get to his brother, take the family and start a new life!
Sara, for her part, she'd lost family too, two brothers killed in that senseless war with Iran that had gained them less than a hundred yards and cost over a million lives, all because of one man's pride! Her father had been proud to have sons serving in the Military, but distraught at their loss, a third brother called up and shipped off to Kuwait only to be killed as he fled for his life in a massacre, twenty thousand Iraqis lost in less than an hour, and all of it coming from the air as wave after wave of aircraft pounded the convoy, and all because some stupid officer had given the order for the men to open fire with rifles on machine built to patrol the skies and rain death down on all that defy it, the A10 Thunderbolt!
They loved their country, but all their country had given them in return was bloodshed and pain, they had to get out!
Prince Charles speaks out
- Prince Charles compares persecution of Christians in the Middle East to Nazi holocaust
Prince Charles compares persecution of Christians in the Middle East to Nazi holocaust
"We're here for your luggage" the man said as he pushed his way into the room, Sara was dressed, but this was highly unusual, and totally against their culture. Men do not visit other men's houses when the know the male isn't going to be there, and they knew Samir wasn't here as they would have seen him leave, he was on his way to meet Hamid.
"But the luggage isn't going until tomorrow, is it?" Sara demanded.
"Change of plan" the man replied, "it's going tonight, we got a good deal with a truck going to Greece tonight" he moved in and grabbed the bags, the first one he took was the one with the passports in, she said nothing.
less than five minutes later the van was gone, along with the luggage and passports, for better or worse their plan was in motion, she just hoped they's done the right thing.
" I need the money today" Hamid told Samir
They were at a small coffee shop or 'Qahwe" as the Turks called them, Hamid had a 'Shisha' that he was smoking, from the smell of it, it wasn't tobacco that was in the Shisha, Samir decided not to ask.
He'd been expecting this, he had the money with him, slowly he took the money belt off and handed the money to Hamid, "It's all there, as we agreed $2,000 per person up front, the remaining $3,000 when we get to our destination"
Hamid's face turned crimson red, "I meant I need all the money"
"We agreed on that!" Samir cut him off, "take it or leave it" he was bluffing and both of them knew it. but the fact was he didn't have the rest until he got to London, he would pay then, he was a man of his word, but Hamid would have to lie with it, and if he was planning something untoward, well he just won't make as much money as he thought!
Hamid snatched the money belt, fuming "You son of a prostitute, MAKE SURE YOU PAY AS SOON AS YOU GET THERE!"
"As we agreed" Samir replied, "Now, when are we leaving!"
"Tomorrow night," he replied, "Be here at this time"
Tomorrow never comes
They were woken early the next morning, banging and screaming through the hotel as the Police carried out a raid, they were looking for 'illegal immigrants"
"Quick, up, let's get out of here" Samir was on his feet and hurriedly throwing some clothes on, Sara was working as fast as she could, getting George up and dressed. Samir had the door to the balcony open when the door to the room crashed open, two policemen rushed in and physically pulled him from the balcony, they manhandled him onto the bed and handcuffed him, next they handcuffed Sara and dragged them out of the room, through the hotel and into a waiting Police van.
As he was being pushed into the van, demanding to know what they were being charged with, the police screamed at him to "Shut the hell up you Iraqi scum! What do you think you're being charged with, you're here illegally!"
That was when he saw a face in the crowd, a face he knew was smiling, one that had pocketed $6,000 US from them and calmly turned them into the Police, passing a death sentence on them.
Note from the Author
This is (as far as I know) a true story of what happened to a friend of mine, I'm not going to tell the end just yet, and to be honest I've no idea how long the story is going to be, I'm just going to write what I remember what 'Samir' told me, and try to give you a bit of a perspective of what it's really like for those folks making that kind of journey.
I'm not asking people to change their minds about where they stand with regards to 'refugees' and 'economic migrants' (by the way the two are totally different, one is fleeing because it's not safe for them at home, the other is coming because there are jobs where you live!) but I am asking you to stop and listen, I mean really listen to what they say.
Let em know what you think below, and we'll see where we go from here.
Want to read on? (Here's the next chapter)
- "Coyote" part 2
'People smuggling' is one of the worst crimes around today, and its at 'epidemic' proportions. What makes people turn to the 'Coyote' the people smuggler? Read this true story.