A Poem by Parwana Amiri

Parwana Amiri is an author, poet and activist from Afghanistan who is living in Greece since September 2019. Her poetry may seem softly written, but it contains hidden stories and bitter truths. With her work, she challenges the power of art and poetry to convey these bitter truths of the times. This poem describes the feeling of refugees when they are displaced, on the streets or under tents, in war, when they get exposed to passengers and visitors who come to see their condition. It respects those who visit to support, but blames those who only want to be spectators of the suffering of refugees. It focuses especially on the eyes, representing through who only stand and stare and do not anything to support. The poem is inspired by displaced refugees in Victoria square, who are living in open spaces without shelter and must bear the gaze of all those who pass.

Illustration by Micol Suber

Photo credits for background image: Luca Ciloni

“It is not a drama film – We are not actors – Don’t be spectators – Your eyes bother us!”. The illustration plays with these words – it depicts the audience in a stylized way against an image that illustrates the reality – it embodies the ‘common attitude’ to explain the behaviour shared by the majority of people regarding the refugee crisis – since they are not the ones living it and it’s not affecting their daily lives – they limit themselves by being ‘spectators’.

Your Eyes Bother Us

It is not a drama film

We are not actors

Don’t be spectators

Your eyes bother us!

Trees are our shelter

The earth is our floor

This is a real scene

You eyes bother us!

Violence and humiliation

Scorn and repression

Don’t see us as criminals

Your eyes bother us!

You support is admirable

But, don’t take our pictures

The lenses, your eyes

Your eyes bother us!

In the roads, passengers

In the tents, tourists

In war, among soldiers

Your eyes bother us!

Not the eyes, only hearts

Not the eyes, only thoughts

Not the eyes, only glances

Those eyes bother us!

(Full of respect for all solidarity people who were always there to help us, this poem is only for those

who couldn’t change their perspective about us)

To survive, to breathe

To achieve our goals

Not to stay in darkness

We struggled in Greece