Amir’s tragic life as an asylum seeker in Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

I got to know Amir* in 2016 when he was living in the Kolari asylum refugee center. Thanks to his help and those of others, the asylum seekers of the reception center organized a demonstration that ended with the deputy manager, Jari Sillantie, getting sacked.

Amir, an Iraqi, came to Finland in 2015 like so many of his countrymen.

He writes:

I’m sorry I didn’t send you a long time ago; I spent all these years in poor condition and full of stress. 

I’m tired and have suffered a lot from 2015 to 2021; psychological pressure and my nerves tight. There is no such thing as mercy or humanity [here]. We have suffered a lot of stress and other things. We cried so much that we got sick to the point where we could never sleep normally again. 


Asylum seekers demonstrating at the Kolari asylum reception center in May 2016.

We have been interviewed by the authorities several times and have received rejections on asylum for trivial reasons. The reason is that they don’t want to help us. If they wanted to, they would do so. Once in an interview, my wife threw herself on the floor and urinated on herself. There was no mercy or humanity despite what happened.


I have many problems in Iraq, and I even submitted papers to the authorities proving this. I was the reason why they killed two people who were with me. My friends accused me of being part of the group that killed my friends, but they were wrong. They still don’t believe me.


We had a lot of problems when I lived with my wife in Iraq. My wife’s brother got injured in a demonstration, and they burned down his house.


An asylum seeker demonstrating in Kolari in May 2016.

We started to go to a church in Finland for a while because they gave us some food and aid. My children liked going there, but something unexpected happened. One day, when we were returning from the church, another brother of my wife called. My son answered the phone, and a big problem emerged when my father-in-law, a Muslim, overheard the conversation that we had gone to church.

My father was a Christian, and I had many problems because of this in Iraq. When my father-in-law overheard us, he started to curse and curse until he began threatening us. He stated that he’d kill his daghter and me because I deceived his daughter to change religion. The threats did not stop. He started to spread them in Iraq, vowing to kills us.

All the suffering my wife has endured has caused her to commit suicide more than once. I have visited many psychiatrists and taken a lot of medicine. My wife, even my little son, went to see a psychiatrist.

We don’t have anyone here or in Iraq who would care for us. And on top of this, the police are now telling us to leave and go back to Iraq. They have threatened to cut off all financial aid, housing, everything. I asked them where we were supposed to go with three young children.

I have thought many times that I have wasted seven years of my life in Finland. I was given an ultimatum together with my wife’s children to go back to Iraq. They gave me 30 days to decide. Next week I’ll be expelled from the refugee center, and I don’t know what will happen to us after that.

*Amir is an assumed name used to protect his identity because he is an asylum seeker. The story was lightly edited.