Firas Abakar – A harrowing story of lost family and fleeing from death threats

Firas Abakar

Family of 17-year-old stabbed in Iraq

by Piers Newbery

20 August 2012

Loss is everything for the Abakar family. They’ve lost their only daughter, has lost his parents and now this.

At last, we’ve heard from Firas, aged 17.

In the great Iranian and Iraqi refugee camps along the Tigris River, his parents run a small shop. His life is on hold.

Firas spent six weeks trying to get to Iraq’s Kurdistan Region to try and find refuge from threats to his life and to his mother who he says died after Isis cut a large part of her tongue off. He found her handcuffed to a wall and bleeding to death.

He says he was the one who called her relatives from the camp so she could pray in a mosque as she did every morning.

“She was beaten and badly injured and was praying in the mosque and then she woke up bleeding and dizzy. Her friends went to search for her in the cemetery and they found her, but she was bleeding and had a huge hole in her tongue. She died the next day.”

Her death was the last straw for Firas and he says he was determined to find a way to get to the UK for safety. He dreamed of a more peaceful life. He thought if he got asylum in the UK he could find work and help his family.

But then he was stabbed and ran into the river to drown. He says he thought he’d die there.

“After I got stabbed and was in shock, I got held by my stomach because I couldn’t move my legs and then I was stabbed in the throat. I thought I was going to die then, and I went out of my mind. It was painful and I tried to push myself across the river, but it didn’t work so I died by drowning.”

Losing the family he helped then leaves Firas very angry with the humanitarian system and with politicians.

“The politicians and the West (are) wrong to put people’s lives in danger because of other politicians’ decisions,” he says.

“They just put people’s lives in danger even though we were not terrorists. In the same way that it is wrong to give support for bombing countries in Syria, why not support countries in Iraq who are putting us in danger?

“As a result, there are bombings and more Iraqi people dying and I lost my life because of them.”

A full documentary on Firas, his family and his harrowing story will be shown on the Monday 10 September on BBC Four.

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