The Sunday Leader

In Search Of Safety And Freedom

By Easwaran Rutnam

They came to Sri Lanka in search of happiness. But all they got was pain and suffering. Sadia and Amala, two Pakistani sisters fled their home country claiming they were under threat and sought refuge in an environment alien to them.

Sadia, the elder of the two, had written extensively against the Pakistani military in her blog and that, according to her, did not go down well with the authorities.

Fearing for her life and that of her younger sister and mother, the trio came to Sri Lanka in 2012 and made several appeals for asylum, but to no avail.

Last year they were arrested and placed at the Mirihana detention center but they managed to escape and appealed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa through a blog post on the internet, for asylum and freedom.

All three of them kept moving from house to house between Kandy and Colombo looking for a safe haven as they continue to appeal for help.
With no help in sight, Sadia contacted a few websites in Sri Lanka for assistance and also published her story on more blogs.

However with the Sri Lankan authorities and the UNHCR turning a deaf ear to her plight, Sadia began to take drastic steps.

A video later appeared on YouTube showing Sadia cutting her arms with a blade in an attempt to show the world how desperate she was for help.

Her little sister, who as a child needs to be out playing and enjoying life like other children, is instead seen in the video looking at Sadia going through the physical pain even as the emotional pain continues.

After months and months of suffering and persistent appeals, last November Sadia and Amala got asylum in Sri Lanka through the UNHRC.

However that has brought little respite for the two sisters. Sadia says their passports had been confiscated by the Immigration and Emigration department and without the passports they have no freedom.

“Our lives are frozen,” Sadia told The Sunday Leader from an undisclosed location in Sri Lanka, adding that they survive with the savings they had in Pakistan.

Sadia also said that at times they had to even go to Pettah and sell some of their bangles for extra cash. Now they are paid by the UNHCR as well.

“We are safe. For now,” she adds. Sadia says young Amala is most often emotionally down as she lives a life no child would want to. Sadia continues to tell her story through blogs, Facebook and other websites and has won the moral support of many both here and abroad.

Asked if she regrets writing against the Pakistan military considering what she is facing right now, Sadia admits if she knew things would turn this bad she would have had second thoughts.

For now, all Sadia and Amala can do is hope and pray that one day they will be able to experience true freedom and move on with their daily lives like any ordinary person. They want to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible.

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