Portrait: Shiden


Casual outfit, sunglasses, a calm smile in his face. Shiden looks more like a sportsmen, waiting for his interview. Not like someone who was tortured. It seems even more bizarre when Shiden starts to tell us his testimony about his flights while we are sitting in a blooming park in Tel Aviv with birds singing around us.

April 2016. Shiden

Shiden Kopie

The story starts in Eritrea. Shiden left his home country at the end of 2010 because of being pursued due to his Christian belief. Together with his wife he went to the Sudan where he payed smugglers to bring him to Israel. Instead, the human traffickers brought Shiden and his wife to the Sinai. Sold them to Bedouins who live there and who torture people. Shiden and his wife were locked into a cellar were hostages are tortured on the telephone, in order to force their relatives to pay high ransoms for their release.


They hit us, with sticks and many other things“, Shiden tells us. „They hung us upside down on the feed. Even our women. Burned our skin.“ Almost bewildered Shiden shakes his head, as if he almost couldn’t believe his own story. It was very hard to tell about these things. There are no right words to describe how it is to be in hell.

For and a half months Shiden and his wife were tortured. Day and night captivated, blindfolded. Surrounded by the screamds of fellow hostages. „If nobody pays for you, the smugglers tell you that they will sell your organs“, Shiden says. „And that really happens.“

Shidens family payed the more than 20.000 Dollars, got into high debts in order to release their son. Finally, seriously injured, Shiden and his wife were released in the middle of the desert. But the story doesn’t end here. When the survivors dragged to the Israeli border, they were shot by Egyptian soldiers who are ought to secure their border. Shiden shows us his scarfs at his arm. Seven times the soldiers had shot at him.

How can you continue to live after surviving hell and being shot at? How can you continue to live after so much suffering and human cruelty? To sit here with Shiden seems unreal. Or it is his story which is beyond imagination. To horrifying to actually understand it. A park with blooming outbacks doesn’t seem to be the right place to talk about torture camps. But I not here and now, then when?


Today, Shiden and his wife live with their two little daughters in Tel Aviv. The mother carries them through the computer shop where Shiden works. “Our life here is very difficult”, he says. Tells us about nightmares. About memories of the Sinai which doesn’t disappear. The wounds of the body recover slowly, but the wounds of the soul can’t.

“These people who did this to me, the smugglers, they are not human”, Shiden says. “But the only thing I can do is to forgive them.”

How can you forgive people who tortured you to death? Maybe it is the power of forgiving that gives Shiden so much strength. That make him not only a victim but also a survivor. He is a survivor who still did not lose his courage. Who meets us to tell us his story, because there’s still hope that some things can change. “It is important to speak about the Sinai crimes”, Shiden says. “So that the world knows what happened there. It is the only thing we can do.”

Thus, Shiden worked on different projects that inform about human trafficking on the Sinai, a case hardly known even in Israel. He was part of a documentary, “The Tears of Eritreans“, a cooperation with students of the University in Tel Aviv.

It is a fight against indifference which Shiden struggles unremittingly. At the moment, he hopes to be able to migrate to Canada with his family, to finally live there with papers and rights. We hope to be able to support Shiden in his struggle and that many people will read his story.

Here you can find the Video “The Tears of Eritreans” on YouTube where Shiden participated in.

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