“Lindenstraße is not the place to live” – Suicide attempt by a resident of LASt Lindenstrasse

One week ago, a resident of the mass accommodation Lindenstraße tried to commit suicide. He received intensive medical treatment in hospital and fortunately survived. The refugee council is in continuous supportive contact with him.
Now Milad G. [
name was changed for reasons of data protection] has decided to publish his experiences and to talk about the reasons for his step and the situation in Lindenstraße. A person from the BIPoC alliance Bremen had a conversation with him in Farsi and translated his words.

Interviewer: Would you like to tell me what your motives were for your attempted suicide last Friday?

Milad: About 4 or 5 years ago, I left Iran because of the problems that most people know about. I fled to Austria. In Austria, my asylum application was rejected twice. They took away my apartment, my life, everything. After that I was forced to flee again and ended up in Germany. I have been in Germany for two months now. And of these two months I spent six weeks in quarantine. The reasons – I don’t really know. They [responsible persons in the LASt] said I have Corona, then I was in hospital, they said I don’t have Corona. And the psychological, emotional pressure I am exposed to here and the circumstances in Lindenstraße, which became more and more acute, led to the fact that I wanted to take my own life.

I: Yes. Can you tell me a little more about the circumstances that contributed to your decision to suicide?

Milad: I would like to. Should I talk about the circumstances in the camp, or the circumstances…?

I: As you like, what is important for you.

Milad: The circumstances in the camp – well, with respect, we came here because we hoped that it could be a little better for us here. We came here, to the camp, imagining, hoping to get protection from the German state. But here I feel like I was ordered and not picked up. And in this quarantine – I sat there and thought, God, I came here healthy without Corona. I asked them for a transfer. They didn’t do that. And then they told me I had Corona. I was tested in four stages during that time. The first time the test was negative, the second and third time it was negative, the fourth time it said I had Covid-19. Me and my roommate. Then they moved me to another room and said I had to stay in quarantine for 14 days. Those 14 days gradually became a month. One month I was in quarantine and the negative thoughts, they became stronger and stronger – what is the German state planning – the police – so much police. In my whole life – as much police as I have seen in Lindenstraße, I have never seen in my whole life. The police came and went, they came into our rooms and acted as if we were, I don’t know, as if we were the mafia or some criminals. That’s how they treated us. I asked them, what is going on, are we thieves, that so many police are knocking on my door just to tell me that I have tested positive? And then they said go from this room to the other room, go from the upstairs room to the downstairs room, come from the downstairs room to the upstairs room. Such difficulties – there were just too many. And you’ve got 50, 60 people who seem to have Corona, you leave them in rooms with only one toilet, one bath and they only clean that once a day. And with this terrible food, which I think has no vitamins at all. I think it’s that frozen food that you buy when you’re in a hurry and need to choke down something quickly. Nothing, no proper food, no proper drinking water, drinking water we’re supposed to get from the toilet. How much can a bottle of mineral water cost the state? For example, that the state gives two bottles of water to each person seeking asylum. So, yes, it was this situation with food, this situation with – they put a carton of orange juice there and then they fill the juice carton half full with water. So they mix yogurt half and half with water and say, that’s Dugh now. And well, you can put up with bad food for a while. …but you can’t take bad hygiene. It’s just not possible. Imagine if you fell ill with a disease that could be life-threatening. I mean, the whole world is affected by Corona right now, right? And you live with 40-50 people, all with different life forms, all with different faiths, in one camp, in one corridor, all in quarantine. And you’re sick or they tell you you’re sick. And you don’t have any symptoms at all. And all of that puts a lot of pressure on you, doesn’t it? You get up in the morning, you go to the bathroom and you find out that the bathroom looks absolutely disgusting, the toilet looks absolutely disgusting. You know, people are different, every person is socialized in a different way, is used to different conditions. I myself, for example, I really can’t use the bathroom or the toilet if they are as disgusting as in Lindenstraße. I just felt so much psychological pressure all the time that I felt that it was leading to this – and no matter how many times we told the people in charge of the camp, please, reduce the number of inhabitants* in the camp. But instead of reducing the number of us, they increased the number of securities. And then we asked the security, why don’t you wear masks? They told us, what for, are there positive tested ones here? And we said, yes, we all tested positive. Security replied, no, we were told you all tested negative. Then I saw for myself how the security helped themselves to the coffee that was put there for us, to the juice and yogurts that they had put there for us. And he did not care at all that there are people among us who have tested positive and that he might be infected. That’s when I began to get suspicious. And no matter how often we told them something, it went in one ear and out the other. And then, once a day, they would come to the room door, knock and check if we had a fever, and we all had no fever, our body temperature was always around 35 degrees. They just came to wake us up out of our sleep. They just came to wake us up. It’s enough that someone who’s been in Europe for five years has been rejected twice, all this mental overload, that you have all kinds of things in another country, an apartment, a car, a life, and then you’re suddenly forced to flee, have to come to a new country called Germany, the highly developed Germany. And when you then see such things in this country, then you really think you have landed in the absolute wasteland. You can’t imagine that this is supposed to be this highly developed Germany! And all this, these things, that’s enough for someone who is not totally tough to want to take his own life. Yes…If you have any other questions, you can ask me.

I: Yes…gladly. What are your demands to the city of Bremen, to the health and social authorities?

Milad: You know, what I’m asking is that one of them come, one person, and spend just one day in one of these rooms that don’t have a ceiling, in this current situation, one night. Just that. I’m curious to see if they last the night here. You know, they tell us to wear masks, for example. But if we have no ceilings and the same stale air circulates from one room to another, why should we wear masks? Why should we leave our door open and ventilate when it is the same stale air everywhere anyway? The ceilings are completely open anyway. Can you imagine that if a person in the next room is just breathing, then I can hear their breathing. And if the person is really sick, and not even Corona, but some kind of illness – but if you have no privacy, no separate toilets, no separate rooms, then the illness just spreads. If they just put a pot of tea there and we see 60 people helping themselves to that pot. Now let’s say 20 people have washed their hands before. What about the 40 others? So I say, if you put juice, why don’t you put a pack of juice in each room? Or each person gets a box. Or if you’re putting tea, then give each room a pot. I don’t think that’s too difficult to organise, is it? And then, if the people in charge in the camp want to test us for Corona, they should take us, like everybody else in town, to the official places where we are tested, to the hospital, where the people who test positive can stay for a week in the hospital. And when the test results are available, then they can go among other people again or not. But not that 600 people are put together in one place, in rooms that have no ceilings, with 5 bathrooms and 5 toilets and say you all have to be quarantined. And then come back in a fortnight and say you don’t have a fever, you’re fine. You can’t do that. Besides, just because someone doesn’t have a fever doesn’t mean they don’t have Covid-19. Like A, for example. He was barely running a fever. We spent all that time together. And now he’s been in the hospital for 24 days. How many antibiotics and I don’t know what else he’s had to swallow

I: Yes. If I have understood you correctly, you are asking for one of the responsible persons to move to Lindenstraße for a day and experience the situation on site?

Milad: Yes, exactly that they spend even one day in one of these rooms and then let’s see if they can bear it, if they could imagine living like that. We are also human beings. Yes, we are asylum seekers. And yet we’re human. We are individuals. And as we say in our language, we’ve come to ask for asylum in order to be helped. And not that you here make us suffer like this. I really believe that it would be better to be in prison than in Lindenstraße. In my opinion, prison is better than Lindenstraße.

I: What makes you think that prison would be better than Lindenstraße?

Milad: In prison, at least you know you’re a prisoner. No? But here – for a smoker, for instance. For me as a smoker, I don’t know in Lindenstraße, I am free now, I’m not free. I want to go and smoke and have to ask the security to give me five minutes so I can go out, have a cigarette and come back. You know, you yourself did not live in Lindenstraße, you can’t imagine it. But for us, not only for me, for everyone who is there, God is my witness, it is incredibly hard to bear. That they constantly look at you with hostile eyes. And then, most of them, who are working here now, were asylum seekers themselves, all of them for 5, 6, sometimes 10 years, they have been here, somehow learned the language and were somehow put into these jobs, to work for AWO, were trained as securities. I told them myself once, I said we are asylum seekers, you have been asylum seekers yourself. But this way of dealing with us, it’s not right. You yourselves were in our place once too. But unfortunately, yes – I wished that they take more care of the qualification of the employees, that they train the employees, that they look properly, if the people are qualified to work with refugees, to treat them appropriately. Because, you know yourself, we both are Iranians, are we not? Some of the inhabitants of the camp are Afghans, some are Kurdish. All of them have lived under terrible social conditions. For example, Kurdish people in respect to Iranians, some have made very bad experience with the governments, right? So for example, someone might think of me I am Iranian and one Kurdish person might think I worked for the Iranian regime and supported their anti-Kurdish policy. No? These are fears, they do exist. And they are often real, I have seen it myself. But then, in my example, this one Kurdish person is responsible for a part of the camp, right? And then, I am the person from Iran. And then he refuses to help me with my problems. Or he deliberately mishandles my stuff. Because I am Iranian and because he has a bad picture of Iranians in general. Because he says the Iranians did this, did that, tortured his fellow countrymen. But he does not consider that I, the Iranian who is here now, who left his country and fled here, that I myself had problems with the Iranian regime. And we Iranians are not bad per se. It’s the Iranian government that is bad with Kurdish people. We did nothing, we are just normal people. Aren’t we? I think that the security has to be better trained, it has to be better chosen who is suitable for this job. I have really seen these things, I have really seen these things I am telling you about.

I: Yeah. I believe you.

Milad: Yes. Yeah, these are things that just popped into my head.

I: Thanks. Are there any other thoughts, experiences that you would like to share with me, with us?

Milad: Maybe, to put it like this: Lindenstrasse is not a place to live. Really. Especially in this situation, it is not a place where a person could live. And if you really want to accommodate people there, then only one person would have to be accommodated in each room, at any rate in the smaller rooms. In the larger rooms, two people could also be accommodated in total. And for each room a bathroom could be built in. And those rooms without ceilings, a ceiling would have to be installed. And then, more bathrooms and toilets would have to be installed and it would have to be made clear that this bathroom and this toilet only belongs to this room. Or that the people in that room would each get a key to the bathroom. If they would at least equip it that way, then one could bear it just like that in Lindenstraße. I mean, it is simply a process that we asylum seekers have to go through until we reach a result. And equipped like that, you could somehow still live in it. The other thing is that the catering has to be improved, the whole catering system, that is simply not in order, that is really terrible. Maybe they’ll do it their way, for example, they’ll throw canned carrots together with canned tomatoes and stir in a little tomato paste and say, that’s the food of today. Really! But really, it does not have to be like that. I myself came to Austria in 2015, at that time when there was so much happening in the society in respect to this issue. And yet the asylum system there was so much better than in Germany. In terms of accommodation and care. At least it was better than in Bremen. I don’t know, maybe it’s better in other cities. I mean, you know it yourself, the reception centres each have a leader and they are the ones to decide how something has to be done. It is in their hands. And I don’t know what the management of Lindenstraße intends to do with us. Whether it’s just about getting the securities jobs. Really, meanwhile she has employed as many securities to work in Lindenstraße as there are refugees living there. She has put a member of security staff in every floor. She has placed a security person in front of every fire alarm, a security person in every staircase. And they get paid for that. And I say, instead of doing things like that, improve the whole system, reduce the number of securities, then you have more money for improvements. So the refugees can feel more comfortable in the camp. So that refugees are more comfortable and no longer feel the need to set off the fire alarms. So that the refugees no longer feel the need to protest. So that the fugitives feel more comfortable and no longer find it necessary to flee from Lindenstrasse. So that the fugitives feel more comfortable and no longer find it necessary to claim on you. That way some of the problems could have been solved at least to some extent. Yes, so much. I, in my opinion – they say that the boss is Annika [name changed for privacy reasons], but I don’t know, I don’t think Annika fits – she is a nice person, but I think with her character she fits more into a kindergarten. That she is the boss there. Or that she is the boss in her apartment. But in a camp with 600 refugees, I don’t think she’s qualified. In my opinion.

I: Yes. Thank you for your words Agha Milad.

Milad: You’re welcome. Thank you. Did I speak well, has everything been recorded?

I: Yes, you have spoken very well and it has certainly been recorded. At the end of our interview, maybe you would like to tell us what your personal wishes, your wishes for your own life in Germany are?

Milad: Wallah, I would like to live in Germany, I would like to work in Germany. Just as I have lived in Austria, worked, had an apartment, had a car. And, I have never, as they say, I have never, never spared any effort. And I would simply like to be able to live and work in this country. But right now I’m like a car that’s broken down in the middle of the highway. And neither moves forward nor backward. I can neither return nor move forward. And I’m afraid that suddenly another car will run over me. But I just want to be able to live in Germany, to work here, to become part of society, to learn to understand the language better. Yes. That’s all I want. And I also hope that everyone will break away from racism. Because, I have seen all this. When I was sitting in the bus, in the metro in Austria. When I was on the bus, I noticed that my neighbour got up because of me and sat down somewhere else. And here in Germany I saw it too. There is just so much racism. And I mean, racism exists everywhere in the world, racists exist everywhere. But I just wish that this society would break away from racism.

I: I wish you from my heart that your wishes become reality. We stand together!

Milad: Yes. We do!

If you have suicidal thoughts, if you are not well, do not stay alone in this. Seek help and support from people around you, friends, in your family or social environment or contact a social psychiatric service or telephone hotline.