Desperate Yazidi and Christian migrants in Germany have attempted to report harassment and violence at the hands of Muslim migrants, only for Sunni Muslim translators to lie and deny sectarian attacks.
Muslim translators, from whom the minorities sought help, “threw their support behind the attackers” and denied to authorities that harassment and violence is happening.
After an influx of more than a million migrants last year, German authorities are unable to find sufficient numbers of qualified and reliable translators of Arabic to meet demand.
The country’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) now recruits translators with a pamphlet which says that “in this work you will take on a great responsibility and we expect from you neutrality and reliability.”
But an investigative report by German broadcaster ARD uncovered that there is a “gaping void between demand and reality,” which causes a “nightmare” for numerous migrants.
A Yazidi migrant from Iraq told the public broadcaster that other migrants from the Middle East had verbally abused his group and threatened to beat them. When he went to a translator, a Muslim, for help, the translator “negated it all” and “claimed that none of this even happened.”
The Iraqi Yazidi said that in the supposed translation, the Sunni Muslim “translated that we merely brushed against each other on the street.”
Gian Aldonani, a Cologne-based Yazidi student whose family fled to Germany when she was a child and who works with minority migrants, said this isn’t an isolated incident:
”There is a deliberate effort to fallaciously translate. First we thought that this was a single incident from Cologne, but we have recognised now through the documentation of all cases that this is the case all over Germany.”
Ms. Aldonani then related the story of harassment of her cousin in the town of Dunningen. The incident was recorded on his mobile phone, and the attacker threatens: “I will cut out your tongue! Your tongue, I will cut it out! Do you understand or not?”
The young Yazidi called relatives in Germany for help. His cousins, Ms. Aldonani and her sister, then made a phone call to Dunningen.
The translator asked the pair whether either of them spoke Arabic, to which they both said “no” even though Gian’s sister does. The translator asked the Yazidi if he was beaten, to which the cousins said they heard their migrantcousin state yes “very clearly”, then the translator proceeded to tell them that “no, he wasn’t beaten.”
The fearful Yazidi then fled Dunningen. His cousins said:
“We met with him at an anonymous location. He showed us his refugee ID, and he told us, we quote: ‘I had this feeling from the very beginning that the translator wasn’t translating correctly. I wanted to file a report, but that didn’t happen any more.'”
The ARD reported that social workers rely on these translators who then exploit this situation and, very deliberately, translate inaccurately — “basically doing exactly the same thing as is being done to these minorities in their countries of origin.”
In Iraq, Yazidis were betrayed by their own Sunni Arab friends and neighbours who assured them that, as nearby villages fell to Islamic State, they would be safe. However, their Arab neighbours turned on them, and countless Yazidis died as a result of treachery.
Numerous survivors who fled reported that they later heard their trusted friends had actively collaborated with Islamic State, even helping them “hunt” Yazidis.
Christian migrants from the Middle East are also filing complaints against dishonest translators. A Syrian mother, whose two children had head lice, asked a Muslim female translator for medication. She requested it three times, but to no avail, so went to another translator telling him her girls were “scratching themselves terribly.”
He told her the other translator claimed she had inspected the children and that there was nothing wrong. In front of the mother he asked the female translator: “You looked at the children’s heads, there was nothing, right?” and she answered: “I’ve seen nothing and heard nothing.”
Eventually, another migrant who speaks English helped her.
The family asked the broadcaster to not “make waves” over their ordeal, fearing retaliation.
A lawyer with Christian and Yazidi migrants among her clients says: “This is something that multiple refugees reported to me, not just my clients. Again and again they point this out, but no one listens to them.”
The lawyer accused the authorities of naïveté, neglecting to react to the allegations at all or claiming to know nothing about them, despite the numerous filed reports.