The Longest Run - Witness
From: Witness

The Longest Run: Refugee Teens in Jail

How teenage refugees from Syria and Iraq end up in Greek prisons, accused of trafficking illegal immigrants into Europe.

Editor’s note: This film is no longer available online.

Two young boys, Alsaleh from Kobane in Syria and Jasim, a Yazidi from northern Iraq, spend their long days in a juvenile prison in Greece, accused of smuggling illegal immigrants while their families are living in war zones.

With unique access to the juvenile prison and courtroom, The Longest Run unravels the stories of these youngsters by exposing a phenomenon in the illegal immigration network which has taken on alarming proportions: Professional traffickers force underage migrants to transport people across the border from Turkey to Greece or from Greece to Europe and turn them into smugglers themselves.

Jasim, the Iraqi boy, was in a boat with seven people, and Alsaleh was trying to leave Greece in a truck with 40 people. During their time in custody, they realise that the court can sentence them to life imprisonment.

As their court cases unfold, we hear the telephone conversations between the boys and their parents, which reveal the desperate situation of the war in Syria and Iraq and the tragic sense of “double confinement”: The long and uncertain confinement of the boys in Greece and the enforced confinement of their parents, living under the threat of ISIL.