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"Coyote" part 2

Updated on February 18, 2017
lawrence01 profile image

Action adventure are my favourites. especially if we can tell 'part of the truth' and these hubs are based on real people.

Note from the writer

Just to remind you that this is (as far as I can remember) a true story. Or at least it's based on the events that my friend 'Samir' told me when we knew each other years ago.

There are some things that I've used a bit of creative licence with (mainly with the conversations) but the events in the story all did take place, and we look at whom can you trust when you're 'running for your life' and no one seems to be listening to your plight?

I'd go as far as to say, this is the plight of the Christians in Syria right now, flooding the gates of Europe with wave after wave of people just wanting to find safety.

I've got no answers to the problem, you won't find them here, but hopefully, after reading, you might see things from another perspective, through the eyes of the one who had to run, "With just the shirt on my back!" as one refugee put it to me.

From the previous

"Tomorrow night," he replied, "Be here at this time"

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!"


All the comforts of home, not!

Try travelling twelve hundred miles in this! They are in wide use in the region
Try travelling twelve hundred miles in this! They are in wide use in the region | Source

Carrying on

“I knew we shouldn’t trust him” Sara’s voice wasn’t angry, more of a sad resignation to their fate. They were sitting in the back of a police van heading for the Turkish-Iraqi border, the nearest point at which the Turks could get ‘rid’ of them without causing a row with someone.

“There were thirty eight people” Samir was still in some form of disbelief, he was glad he’d listened to his wife, but the sheer magnitude of what Hamid had done, he was having serious problems with, “thirty eight loaded on a plane and flown back to Baghdad.” He buried his head in his hands and began to weep.

They knew only too well what awaited those thirty eight people, a fate as gruesome as you could ever imagine, the only consolation was it would be swift, they wouldn’t even make it back to Baghdad.

A one way flight to Amman in Jordan, Jordanian troops waiting to load them onto trucks where they’d be driven to the border where Saddam’s infamous ‘Mukhabarat’ or secret police that were anything but secret and ruled by fear, they’d be waiting, machine guns loaded, as soon as they had them in custody they’d be driven out into the desert and never seen from again!

“Did he take money from them all?” Sara asked, when Samir’s brother left Iraq, during the ‘91’ Gulf war he’d gotten out as a refugee, he still hadn’t been in Australia long enough to become a sponsor, but their situation had become so bad they had to act, and the high risk ‘Coyote’ (or ‘Kachache’ as the Arabs called them) was the only way.


How much is a life worth?

“Two thousand American dollars for every one,” Samir replied, “Cash up front, now we know why, he had no intention of getting us through!”

They were both quiet, they were the only ones in the vehicle, at least in that part of it, the guards were in the warm cab at the front, they were in the back, a metal box on the chassis of a truck, almost no suspension meant they felt every slight hole in the road, (and there were lots) the temperatures were well below freezing point, and there was no heating, all they had were a few flimsy blankets that one of the police staff had given them, and each other, that was it.

They had no idea if it was day or night, all they knew was it had been daylight when they were bundled into the vehicle.

“Any idea where they'll take us?” Sara asked, it wasn't that she wasn't aware of world events, but as a woman, and a Christian she had a place in the world, and there were times when she was really glad not to have to make the decisions, not that they had any choice in the matter.

Samir was one of those who could think, and could do it ‘on his feet’. That ability had saved him from Saddam's henchmen a few times, just being able to 'out think’ them, yet stay respectful, despite the fact they were monsters could keep you alive, it was also the reason they ran, it was only a matter of time.


These people weren't smuggling people!

One way!

“The only real border crossing that's still working is Zakho,” Samir began, “but that's controlled by the Kurds, and things are really bad up there, sanctions from the West, and no electricity!”

“At least they're not going to kill us” Sara tried really hard to find something positive about the situation, “and they won't hand us back to Baghdad, that has to count for something, right?”

The Kurds were a strange people, Samir never fully trusted them, there was a long history between the Kurds and Christians, centuries ago, it was a good history, but ever since the massacres in Armenia, where a million Christians died at the hands of the Kurds and Turks, that trust was broken, now, they lived together, needing each other, but not fully trusting.

“The enemy of my enemy, is my friend.” So the old Arab proverb goes, but Saddam was the Arab, neither the Christians or the Kurds are Arab, “do they think that way?” Samir asked himself as they travelled along.

“You” the official screamed as he opened the back of the van, “on your feet, time to go” he jumped into the van.


What it looks like in Summer

Imagine what it's like with a few feet of snow on the ground, and minus ten degrees. The trucks are taking supplies through
Imagine what it's like with a few feet of snow on the ground, and minus ten degrees. The trucks are taking supplies through | Source

The Border

Samir was struggling to get to his feet, his hands and feet so cold he couldn't feel them, his legs stiff and painful from the cold. Sara was gripping young George in a vice like grip, part terror at the being separated, and part because she was so cold the fingers no longer responded to the brain's commands, she was trying, but so cold she just couldn't do it.

The official climbed in and started manhandling her to the back, “come on, MOVE” he screamed.

“There's no need” Samir tried to intervene, he was halted by a sudden crack across the back of the head with some form of truncheon, he was fell to the floor.

Sara was crying, the terror of Samir getting injured, or even killed causing even more terror than being thrown out of the vehicle, 'God alone knows where’ in snow covering their ankles, “where are we?” She whimpered as she crawled out of the vehicle.

Samir was picked up semi conscious, and physically thrown out, only the fresh snow preventing major injuries. “Where do you think you are?” The official sneered, “you're at the border, your new home is that way.” He pointed out into the blackness, “now get moving, get out of my sight!”


It took a full ten minutes for Samir to regain his senses. Ten minutes of falling snow, but at least the wind wasn’t blowing, that at least was a small blessing.

Light was just beginning to show in the eastern sky, that told them they must have driven through the night, it had been daylight when they were bundled into the truck, though what time of day neither of them had any idea!

Zakho is one thousand six hundred and ninety kilometers, or just over a thousand miles, all in the back of a police van, no heating, in the middle of winter with snow and freezing temperatures, yte they’d made it, ‘Only God knows how?’ Samir thought to himself, but here they were. It wasn’t the destination they hoped for, but right now, any destination that didn’t involve getting killed was a good sign!

They slowly struggled to their feet, and approached the customs post, they were just about to enter the Turkish side, a few moments of warmth before the freezing ‘no man's land’ was looked forward to.

There were trucks lined up five deep, the drivers camped in makeshift tents at the side of the road, having spent almost as uncomfortable a night as they had in the freezing weather. Each truck had a few sacks of either potatoes or onions on the back of the truck, just the kind of things the locals would have no idea how to cook, but the size of the fuel tanks on the vehicles were massive, some of them easily took a couple of thousand liters! Samir had worked in the motor industry, and he could scarcely believe his eyes, he’d never seen vehicles with such massive fuel tanks!

“You” they heard a voice shouting, they stopped, half scared that they were being called back, that the turks had changed their minds, and were going to send them to Saddam anyway!

“See those people there” the guard was actually talking to a truck that had just cleared the customs post and was heading into Iraq, “Put them on the back of your truck and take them across!”

“What?” the driver asked, he was almost as worried as they were, the last thing he needed was to upset the guards, he’d just spent a week waiting to get through the checkpoint, upsetting them could mean spending another week when they cancel his permit, he had a family back in home in Diyarbakir, last thing he wanted was trouble either here, or on the Iraqi side, and extra passengers could be just that!

“You heard me!” the guard snarled, Now don’t argue!”


'Back in the day'

Just what a Kurdish border guard would look like, without the AK47 you were undressed!
Just what a Kurdish border guard would look like, without the AK47 you were undressed! | Source

A friend in need!

The place looked bleak, just a seeming concrete hut, with a huge, but totally blacked out building behind. Not one light in the whole complex, just weary guards huddling round the remnants of what used to be a brazier, it's embers dimly glowing.

The truck pulled up close to the hut, just as two of the guards began to saunter over, they looked totally unlike any guard from a conventional customs post you can imagine. Full beards down as far as the middle of their chests, short curly hair and baggy trousers tied together with string that tightened as they went down the leg almost to the point of being a 'drainpipe' at the end, traditional Kurdish wear that said it all, they were the dreaded 'Peshmerga' the scourge of the Iraqi Army

The driver wound his window down and waved a piece of paper at them, “I'm bringing vital food supplies in,” he yelled at the guards, “I need to be on my way!”

“Then what the heck are you stopping for?” one of the guards shouted back, it was time for the Turks to start letting the trucks through, but they didn't get stopped on the Iraqi side, not on the way in that is, on the way out was a different story, everyone had to pay the ‘backshish’ on the way out.

Samir opened the back of the truck and began to climb out, the guard wasn’t even fazed by it, he’d seen it too many times before.

“They made me bring them” the driver screamed panicking, thinking that the guard might think he’d done something illegal. “The guards over the other side” he was frantic.

The guard stopped him with an upheld hand, “Shut up” then turning to Samir he asked, “Where are you from?”

“Please sir,” Samir addressed the guard, but turned to help sara from the truck, the guard himself slung his weapon and stepped up to help, a few of the others had seen what was going on and came to help. “We’re from Baghdad, went to Istanbul to try and get out” he began to reply.

“That’s all I need to know” the guard cut him off, he held up his arms to take little George off the back of the truck, “The office doesn’t open for another hour, but you can stay with us for now, there’s hot food and Tea over with the others, come, I’ll take you”



"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

— Statue of Liberty

From the author

They say that a 'friend in need, is a friend in deed'

Samir and Sara were in desperate need, but the first sign of compassion they saw was from someone who was traditionally their enemy, a Kurdish Peshmerga!

It's been about twenty years since Samir told me the story, but as far as I can remember, the main events are true to what happened.

My purpose for this story is that next time you see someone who's newly arrived in your country, you'll take a moment to think of the journey they might have had to make, one that is filled with fear and danger all of the way

At the base of the Statue of Liberty it reads

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless,tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


The place where I now live prides itself on being founded on a 'bi-cultural' treaty that welcomes the foreigner, (It welcomed the original settlers)

Let's try and live that out.

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 2 weeks ago

      It seems often in the Middle East, and most other places, "There are no friends, only interests."

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Peg

      There's an old Arab saying. "The enemy of my enemy, is my friend!" That's what played out here.

      Glad you enjoyed the story so far, there's a lot more to tell.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      This family is having their share of difficulties. Glad to see they are given temporary shelter from an unexpected source.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 9 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Alan

      There's a Kurdish saying. "If two fish are fighting in the sea, the reason must be the English!"

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 9 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Light at the end of a long tunnel? Now the Kurds are on our side again, having to deal with the 'Caliphate' (ISIS).

      We rid them of Saddam, only for the whole region to be turned upside down. What's to do with the Syrians? Somebody messed up the Middle East, do we get a prize for guessing who?

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 9 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Nell

      No worries.

      Lawrence

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 9 months ago from England

      Sorry I missed this one, just playing catch up now. what a story!

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 9 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Shyron

      I don't think there are any answers 'out of the box'. One thing we can do is to stop and listen, and help where we can.

      Samir was a good friend, and his family taught me a lot about seeing the world through the eyes of the discriminated against, but they never gave up.

      A favourite quote of mine is from Winston Churchill, "Never give up, no never, no never!"

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 10 months ago

      Thank you. That's a good phrase, "No friends but the mountains."

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 10 months ago from Texas

      Lawrence, I breathed a sigh of relief when help came to Samir's family. I wish I could give you an answer, but I have none. I think about my Cherokee ancestors, born here when the white man came and took the land and possessions and forced them out of their homes, in the dead of winter.

      I will read the other chapters later today.

      Blessings and good wishes to you and your friends.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Chris

      No worries, for me, it's not just remembering the details, but remembering some of the good times, times when a decision made a difference. The story's about hope, even when it seems hopeless.

      Thanks for reading.

      Lawrence

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 10 months ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      Lawrence, Thank you for this installment of the story. Somehow I missed the notification of part two, so I'm a bit behind. I'll catch up. This is fascinating, even though it is horrible to consider. I appreciate how hard you must be taxing your brain to remember details. Great job mixing the fiction and reality.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Robert

      True, but that was the phrase that came to mind as I wrote the piece.

      The Kurds themselves used to say. "No friends but the Mountains" but for Samir and Sara the Kurds became true friends.

      Part of the story is that Samir and Sara did a lot of 'growing' as well, they had to deal with their prejudice to be able to see the Kurds as friends.

      There's a couple more chapters out you might enjoy.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 10 months ago

      Things look bleak but this story ended on an up beat. You are really doing a good job with this. One thing about the "Enemy of my enemy..." isn't "There are no friends only interests" closer to reality on a macro level?

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      John

      Theres a song that nearly became the English national anthem, here's part of the first verse.

      "Land of hope and glory.

      Refuge of the free"

      No one's got a perfect record in this, but living up to those ideals would be amazing.

      All I'm asking is people take time to listen to the real stories of the people from these war torn places as they've so much to teach us.

      Thank you for the visit.

      Lawrence

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 10 months ago from Queensland Australia

      We need articles like this in the present world climate, Lawrence. My own country is not setting a very good example at the present time in regard to compassion and human rights for those seeking assylum either. A wonderfully written second part to the story.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I've just put part 3 out, there's a few thing we can do included in the hub.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      The story will continue, and it's not all bad news, part 3 will be out soon.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 10 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      This is gripping, Lawrence. Sad that it's true.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      First let me apologize for your frozen feet :-)

      No seriously, it's great that you can identify with the story so much.

      You're right about so much pain for seemingly so little reason, but if telling the story can motivate people to actually stop and really listen to these people, then I'll be a very happy writer!

      I actually lived with Samir and his family for a number of months not long after these events, and they were some of the best times I had in the Middle East, but they weren't always easy, you'll see why as the story unfolds.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Linda

      Even the 'old' system for refugees discriminated against 'Samir' when they first started.

      Samir and his family were stuck in the capital city and couldn't get out!

      They first had to trick the authorities into thinking they were only going on 'holiday' and then escape!

      I think if President Trump 'follows through' with his pledge to try and remove the discrimination against minorities, that will help, but I too disagree with the cancellation of visas that were already issued!

      Two things we can do.

      1. Pray for our leaders

      2. Be a respectful voice for those who have no voice.

      That's what I hope these stories will become part of.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 10 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great story Lawrence,

      My feet are freezing just from reading it. So many deaths for almost no reason. We pray for those without a real country to call home.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Thank you, getting the balance right isn't easy. I wanted to depict a number of emotions, including fear yet hope, even showing how one little act of kindness can make a huge difference. Thank you for the visit.

      Lawrence

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 10 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Lawrence, more than ever we need this message. I am so greatly saddened by the decisions that people (one person) are making that are affecting thousands of innocents. Thank you for sharing this story. If only the right person could see it....

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      A wonderful balance of dialogue, narrative, and action...well done, Lawrence.

      blessings always