Who Am I?

Face and Voices – Grown-Ups

H. Kitlom – Age 37

Who-am-II was born in Ethiopia of Eritrean parents but orphaned at age 10. When I was older, I travelled to Eritrea to discover my ancestral homeland. On arrival I was conscripted by the Eritrean army; but because no one in my ancestral village claimed to know me, I was discharged from the army and imprisoned for three years. Then I was conscripted again. I deserted, was apprehended, and served another two years in prison. I became ill in prison, and spent two years in a hospital. I returned to my ancestral village but was unable to find work. Eventually I fled here, returning to Ethiopia. In prison I had been subjected to the “almaz” torture – tied to a tree with my elbows behind my back and on tiptoes – and shackled in painful positions. I was never interrogated – I was simply being punished for not knowing who I was. Do I now know who I am? Yes, an Eritrean, but without a state. I serve on the camp’s Refugee Community Council.