In what can only be described as a far worse version of The Terminal, a Syrian man has been detained in a Turkish airport for over a year after he attempted to emigrate to Europe and escape from the danger in his home country. The Malaysian government accused him of flying with a falsified passport, an allegation which he continues to deny, and because of the charge he cannot leave the airport except to go back to Syria. Instead of having the ability to wander around the airport like a real-life Tom Hanks character, he has been in one room the entire time with no windows or beds and no access to anything besides his phone other than fast food that he is provided three times a day.
Mansour originally considered traveling to Europe from Syria or Lebanon via boat but decided against it after considering how many refugees have failed to survive the crossing or were turned back without making it to another country. He has said in interviews that he would rather have died attempting that method rather than have to live in the airport room any longer, and told Mashable in a recent interview how his current living conditions is affecting him.
“I don’t know what to do anymore. I read more than 40 books. I tried to learn languages. I play on my phone. A month ago, I mentally couldn’t handle it any longer. I became almost aggressive, feeling like I want to hit the walls. I started smoking two and a half packs a day. I’ve never smoked before.”
It is a tragic story, made worse by the fact that Amnesty International’s efforts to free him were not taken seriously or acknowledged by Turkish authorities until recently. However, there is a positive recent development to the saga. Based on a tweet Fadi sent out a few days after his one year “anniversary”, it looks as if Turkey is letting him leave the airport.
It’s unclear whether he will be forced to return to Syria, an option that human rights advocates have pointed out would be a violation of reasonable treatment to refugees, or allowed to travel on to Europe and apply for amnesty in a country there. Even if he is now free to go, Mansour’s story will hopefully cause drastic change in the treatment of all migrant immigrants and refugees for the future.