How many stitches can fit on a child’s face

The story of a 14-year-old Afghani who had come to Greece with his mother in search for a better life, decided to leave to Switzerland where his brother lives but was in the meantime attacked by a group of storm troopers.


By Anta Psarra

Thirty stitches on a child’s face, a result of blind racist violence. A 14-year-old child that had done nothing, that just exists, received the brutal Nazi punishment of yet another group of storm troopers.

He had come to Greece with his mother dreaming of escaping horror. The little Afghani was preparing to go with his mother to Switzerland, where his brother lives. Since the ‘legal way’ does not allow such dreams to a third world child, the only known way is to pay in order to secure the desired seat on an airplane.

No protection

The kid was separated from his mother, since the organiser of their escape had put them in different groups for obvious reason. His mother’s group was boarded and left, the mother herself was sure that the kid had already boarded before her. At the end, as a result of more bad luck, he was spotted and arrested at the airport and, after staying at the police department for 20 minutes and then released, he took the underground to leave. He returned to the house where he had been staying with his mother and some other families of Afghani refugees in Athens.

This means that they left a 14-year-old child without any protection and that nobody cared about where he would go and how he got separated from his family. The little boy was trying to find his way. He took the underground at the afternoon on Monday last week and at 5:30 he got off at the station at Attica square. At some point he realised that he was being followed and felt a pat on his shoulder. He turned and saw three men dressed in black.

“On their T-shirts there was a symbol with two small laurel trees that get connected at the bottom and between them there is another shape”, the boy described. They asked him where he is from and asked to see his papers and when he said Afghanistan one of the men kicked him and dropped him on the ground. They broke a bottle of beer on his face and slashed him.

The boy fainted covered in blood and was taken to hospital by a passerby. There he received stitches, he was prescribed some medication and was let to go.

The hospital itself, that is the doctors who took care of him, did not bother to ask where a little child would go with 30 stitches in the face, beaten and terrorized. It could be the workload, maybe the fact that they were tired or maybe even indifference to blame for the fact that the child was left to his own fate. However ‘Evaggelismos’, ‘Sismanoglio’, and ‘Aglaia Kyriakou’ were on duty on that day. The kid bought the medication from a pharmacy with the little money he had left, but did not know how to use it and did not use it immediately. Fortunately he had heard of ‘Doctors of the World’ from another Afghani who also knew where their surgery is in the center of Athens and the boy went there two days later.

New hope

The boy was so badly slashed and so terrified that even the doctors that deal with similar incidents all day long became speechless. They took care of him immediately, gave him medicine, contacted the Prosecutor about unaccompanied minors and alerted his family to send all the necessary documents for the reunification process. The child is now under the protection of the Prosecutor and Médecins du Monde [MdM, Doctors of the World] and his smile may be betraying his new hope of living a little better. He actually says that he is optimistic that he will soon go to his mom and brother.

We now wait for the next child or woman or man that will find themselves in the way of anonymous assassins dressed in black, while the government—and others—will be concerned about the provisions of the anti-racist law and about whether they will finally implement the agreements they have signed. Until then let’s hope that MdM will continue their heroic work caring for vulnerable citizens even amidst threats to their own physical integrity.

P.S. The only reason for publicizing the picture is to evoke—even if belated—the state’s reaction and the reaction of every civilized man against this phenomenon of extreme racist violence.


Side story

While we were being told the 14-year-old’s story, a Greek former prison inmate walked in MdM’s building. It was obvious that he was suffering from some kind of psychological disorder and he had screws and metals attached to his arm. He had broken his arm while in prison and they attached to his arm a whole mechanism around 30 cm long.

The man was released and no one bothered to remove the mechanism from his arm. He has been living for more than three months on the streets dragging all that weight with the wound full of pus. He went there begging to have the screws removed even if this required to have his arm cut off, because it hurts.

We were speechless with horror seeing you dragging that arm, Giannis. We hope you find the strength required to go through this.

[Translated from ‘Efimerida ton Sintakton’ newspaper, 14/05/2013, found online at:]