The Story of Hassan Kontar
This could be the story of the movie Viktor Navarski interpreted by Tom Hanks in “The Terminal” but is the real story of Hassan Kontar. In 2006, Hassan al Kontar traveled to the United Arab Emirates to work and flee to the military service in Syria. Until 2011, the Syrian managed to work in the Emirates without any problem. However, from the moment Syria went to war, legal difficulties began.
In 2012, one year after the civil war started in Syria, Hassan al Kontar tried to renew his passport, but the Syrian embassy refused. After his work visa expired he could not any longer to work legally in the United Arab Emirates and he was to be deported back to Syria. If he was deported he would be arrested and probably killed for evading obligatory military service.
“I became a refuge in jail overnight”
He was deported to Malaysia, one of the few countries that allow Syrian citizens to obtain the visa on arrival. He received a 3 months visa in Malaysia but after that 3 months the visa expired and he ended up prolonging for a month his staying in the country. So, he ended up paying a fine and was able to extend his stay for only 14 days. In that 14 days he did 2 attempts to leave the country:
In the first one he booked a flight to Ecuador, a country that issues on-arrival visas for Syrians, but he was not allowed to enter the flight, being stopped at the departure gate. His second and last attempt was Cambodia. This time he was able to go on board and he went to Cambodia but when he arrived officials denied his entry in the country saying that he was not qualified for a visa, so he was sent back to Malaysia.
When he arrived at the airport in Malaysia he had 2 options; either to live in the terminal 2 of Kuala Lumpur airport or go back to Syria. He chooses the first option and since 7 of March of 2018 his living in the terminal 2 of Kuala Lumpur airport. From the past 193 days, Hassan has not left the terminal, not have a bed, not a warm shower or even fresh air.
He eats the same three airport’s meals every day, offered by AirAsia, for the past 193 days. With no food outlet in the area that he is staying, is the charity of people that help him, including a group of Canadian and American supporters who brought him a mattress that allows him to sleep below a stairwell, instead of the floor or chairs.
His life is a daily challenge: he sleeps under an escalator and with the kindness of people he is surviving. He does not have a shower, he uses the bathroom during the night to clean himself with a towel. He is not allowed to wash clothes so he depends on workers from the airport to take his clothes and bring them back washed.
“My clothes are always dirty. It’s annoying me,” he says. “I cannot sleep because of that sometimes.”
He is been showing is experience using the social network, having thousands of followers and receive a lot of attention of the social media, but nothing changes in the past 193 days. A lot of people offer to marry him, so he could leave the airport but for him, that is not a solution. Now he has a new hope, that is a group of Canadian volunteers that are trying to get him to Canada with a refugee status. This group found him a sponsor and a job. He´s got accepted in the first phase of this application. But now he needs to wait for the second approval to get to Canada that can take until 26 months. Now the only option that he has Is to wait for the approval and survive each day at the airport.
“Everyday is harder than the previous one”
By Ricardo Leitão