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An interview with a dead man

© Sabry Khaled

“I don’t want to be back, they will kill me, I don’t know how I reached here..”

“No one can enter this spot of Sinai without me being with him and don’t think about using this camera without my permission” Said (X) when I was interviewing him for as a part of my assignment for the newspaper.

Impressive number of gunmen everywhere walking between olive trees destroyed earlier by the army due to “security issues”, this is the view I was watching for at least 10 minutes during the car ride on the sand road with one of Sinai’s top smugglers while entering the village of “Al-Mahdya” which listed as one of the most dangerous populated areas according to security officials, Also the village famous of being the castle of human trafficking specially for those escaping from the hell of civil conflicts in their original African countries.

As an explanation of why the young poor Africans, our companion say “its an old story but before Morsi’s time, the trade was simple, we have our partners in Sudan, we pass the Africans through the borders then we take our share, but of course some violations happened it’s a very large trade now, Some smugglers wanted more money so they killed the Africans who cannot pay more to get more money from their organs”.

He continue “When Morsi came to the power and the radical religious groups started to feel more in control they also wanted a share, no one suffered as these poor boys –the africans- did, they found out that their organs bring more money than trafficking the whole man”.

He was telling all this as it’s an everyday boring story, as it’s a normal daily routine to find a body of a killed African missing some organs.

As we arrived to a huge house in the middle of the desert damaged because of the latest army air strikes, we entered the garden of the house where I saw blankets on the ground believed be used by the “Africans” to sleep, the smell of the burnt paint and furniture still fresh despite the efforts of 7 Eritrean young men who escaped from the hell and poverty in their country to find themselves in a not good hands who asked their families for a ransom but of course they were never able to pay.

“I quit the trafficking business long time ago, not exclusive anymore, not the same money as before, and many are making it a big deal now”, He continue to impress me by how easy he’s taking it.

“You know how close we are to Israel?” Asking me, “Educate me” I replied.

Entered the main building and went directly to the fourth floor where the roof is, “See the white hut their?” he said and pointing to a small hut which is less than 1 Kilometer away, “This is the Israeli check point” he said “The nearest Egyptian one is 15 kilometers away from here, anyway the Israelis are much nicer and more professional”

I kept looking to where he pointed and thousands of questions came across my mine, didn’t any of them, I knew from the beginning that he will give what he want to give, he know that he’s a dead man.

“Have a seat” he said, then he left the roof and heard him shouting at somebody who didn’t speak Arabic very well to bring us tea.

He’s thin, tall and black but he gained more blackness due to Sinai’s sun, he served us the tea with eyes in the ground, didn’t need so much thinking to know that he’s one of them, before he leave I asked “Is he one of them? May I?”.

Where are you from? I asked the young man.

After taking an eye confirmation from his master he looked at me and started talking so I didn’t need to ask more questions and was busy taking pictures of him and his friends who joined later.

“I don’t want to be back, they will kill me, I don’t know how I reached here..” trying to hide the tears jumping from his eyes as it’s the first time to recall all the details associated with pain he suffered, he continued “we were 300 in the beginning they all dead now..”.

Ankel –one of them who joined us- describes the experience of his torture, saying that it was “by electrocuting us at first. They would put us at the end of everyday is a big box where electric wires are connected to our heads and necks”.

The youngman, who is in his thirties hardly stuggles to keep his tears when he remembers beating him with a Sudanese whip “till bleeding” according to him.

As Yousseifi helps to translate the words of his friends who does not speak Arabic, he says “We tried to reach out for human rights organizations after we fleed the tight grip of the gang, and we are waiting for their response to bring us back to our countries”.

“We were around 300, now we are down to only 40 people. Many of us died and were buried in the desert, after some organs were taken from their bodies and were sold. I have seen this with my own eyes,” he added.

“Enough” X said, “You should leave now, its close to 4 pm, curfew in Sinai is different”

I left.

Pictures of the Week: August 29 – September 6

By my friend Roger Anis.