Name: Ramazan Ali
Profile: Hazara refugee, living in Makassar, Indonesia
Advantages: UNHCR certified, university educated (science, math and physics), excellent English, volunteer with refugee children
Risk of return: Detainment, torture, death
UPDATE: Good news! We have submitted an application to bring Ramazan to Canada!
Ramazan was born in Hessar village, Jaghori distract, Ghazni province, Afghanistan in 1991. He was the middle child, with an older brother named Nazer Hussein and a younger sister, Fatema. Their mother was a homemaker and father a farmer, a job that became difficult as time went on and the father grew older.
As a child, Ramazan faced his own adversity and hardship, and in retrospect it seemed he was being prepared for a life of challenges. His parents raised him to believe in the value and power of education.
“I believe it’s better to speak with a pen, rather than a gun – and the pen was the weapon of the people that I have looked up to as my heroes.”
He graduated from high school and studied for his university exams, writing his general entrance exam in 2007. His hard work paid off, as he was accepted to the Science Faculty at Herat University.
During his university years, Ramazan suffered the loss of his mother to lung cancer on December 30, 2011. He then lost his brother Nazer Hussein on May 14, 2012. He was killed by Iranian border guards as he was trying to cross into the country from Afghanistan.
“It was a struggle for me to not feel helpless.”
On March 13, 2011, Ramazan was fortunate to be hired at the EECC, the Estiqamat Engineering Construction Company. He worked as an administrative officer for the company, which took on government contracts to rebuild the infrastructure of the company. He often travelled from Jaghori to Ghazni to visit his family.
On April 10, 2014, he was on this route, accompanied by a friend who worked for the World Food Program. Their car was stopped by members of the Taliban, who forced Ramazan and his friend out of the car.
It was a targeted abduction. They forced Ramazan and his friend to hand over their phones and used them to confirm these were the people they were searching for. They then tied their hands and took them to an old building, where they beat the young men and hit them with the butts of their guns.
“They tortured us and asked me why am I helping the government to rebuild the country.”
In the middle of the night, he and his friend managed to free each other. They broke the window frame and escaped from the building.
They managed to get themselves to a nearby road, where they flagged down a car that had been travelling from Qalat to Kabul, the country capital. There they separated: Ramazan never saw his friend again.
In Kabul, he called his employer, who advised him to leave the country as soon as possible.
“The Taliban had my ID and were likely to find me very quickly.”
Now that he was in the Taliban’s sights, the danger extended both to him and the company he worked for. He organized his documents and left the country within a week of his abduction.
A forced journey
On April 17, 2014, he flew on Spice Jet (legally) to Delhi, India, and then from Delhi to Kuala Lumpur on Malaysian airlines (illegally) on April 20 for an eight hour stopover. He then flew from Malaysia to Indonesia on an Air Asia flight, landing in Jakarta.
At the Jakarta airport, a people smuggler picked him up and drove him into the city. When he dropped him off, he suggested that Ramazan “find friends.” He didn’t know anyone and slept in the train station.
An Indonesian person he met suggested he go to Bogor, where there were other refugees. Ramazan went with the man to Bogor, where he lived, and stayed in the city for nine days with other newcomers.
On April 29, he returned to Jakarta and registered with the UNHCR. A friend told him there was an office in Makassar that was accepting refugees. He took a flight organized by an Indonesian local and arrived with a group of other refugees in Makassar City on May 5, 2014. The immigration centre there turned out to be very unwelcoming.
“We faced a bad situation. All the refugees slept on the ground without anything except mosquitos. I spent six months like that.”
On November 6, 2014, he was transferred to a detention centre in Makassar City. It was essentially a prison, and he was kept with hundreds of other young men, detained without having committed a crime. The stress and psychological pressure were nearly unbearable.
Ramazan painting a wall at the detention centre in Makassar.
During his long three years in detention, he received his official refugee status from the UNHCR on June 10, 2016. And on March 16, 2018, he was transferred out of detention and into refugee housing, where he has lived ever since.
To make the most of his time and gifts, on November 3, 2018 he became a volunteer with the Elites School, founded by a fellow Hazara refugee. For three days a week, he teaches chemistry and science to refugee children. He hopes to give them the opportunities he has so far been denied.
His options now
Since arriving in Indonesia, there has been no talk of settling Ramazan in a new country. Return to Afghanistan, meanwhile, is not an option as he would immediately be targeted by the Taliban, who kept copies of his identity documents.
The Taliban is a vicious and brutal group, and I have a great deal of fear for my life if I were returned to Afghanistan.”
Ramazan tries to stay physically and mentally strong by exercising and studying online. What he really needs is the chance to start a new life in a country where he can make the most of his enormous potential.
“My dream is to be rescued from this harmful situation and start a new life in a peaceful country. I have the motivation to achieve my goals and become a useful person in society. Canadian people favour peace and tranquility in the world and support immigrants and human rights. They are the most humanitarian people in the world.”
Ramazan has shared his story in the hope of finding sponsors in Canada. He has friends and contacts in Australia who can help with fundraising for the amount needed for private sponsorship.
A group in Toronto, led by David Barnes, has submitted an application on Sept 22, 2020, to bring Ramazan to Canada.
If you would like to sponsor a good person like Ramazan – or would like to help out when he arrives – please contact Stephen Watt.
Reach out and discover how wonderful it is to privately sponsor a good person to start a new life – with your help – in Canada!