Sonja Engelhardt, Untitled, 2011, gelatin silver print, 6.3 × 4.7". Courtesy of the artist and Desaga, Cologne.

Darius and Parysatis had two sons, the elder Artaxerxes and the younger Cyrus.

Interviews start at eight in the morning. Everyone’s still sleepy, crumpled, and sullen — employees, interpreters, policemen, and refugees alike. Rather, they still need to become refugees. For now they’re just GS. That’s what these people are called here. Gesuchsteller.1

He’s brought in. First name. Last name. Date of birth. Thick lips. Pimply. Clearly older than 16.

Question Briefly describe the reasons why you are requesting asylum in Switzerland.

Answer I lived in an orphanage since I was 10. Our director raped me. I ran away. At the bus stop I met drivers taking trucks across the border. One took me out.

Question Why didn’t you go to the police and file a statement against your director?

Answer They would have killed me.

Question Who are “they”?

Answer They’re all in it together. Our director took me, another kid, and two girls, put us in a car, and drove us to a dacha. Not his dacha, I don’t know whose. That’s where they all got together, all the bosses, the police chief, too. They were drinking and made us drink, too. Then they put us in different rooms. A big dacha.

Question Have you cited all the reasons why you are requesting asylum?

Answer Yes.

Question Describe your route. What country did you arrive from, and where did you cross the border of Switzerland?

Answer I don’t know. I was riding in a truck and they put boxes around me. They gave me two plastic bottles — one with water, the other for piss — and they only let me out at night. They dropped me off right here around the corner. I don’t even know what the town’s called. They told me where to go to turn myself in.

Question Have you ever engaged in political or religious activity?

Answer No.

Question Have you ever been tried or investigated?

Answer No.

Question Have you ever sought asylum in other countries?

Answer No.

Question Do you have legal representation in Switzerland?

Answer No.

Question Do you consent to expert analysis to determine your age from your bone tissue?

Answer What?

  1. A person who has filed for asylum. (Ger.)  

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