Too many candles Posted January 21, 2016 by admin


This piece, by Catrin Evans, a former visitor and chair of SDV, was written for and performed by her at a fundraiser organised by members of Scotland’s theatre sector to raise awareness of the current situation facing refugees.  In it, Catrin explored the most profound experience she had as a visitor. It is dedicated to our friend Solyman, and everyone else incarcerated in the UK’s unjust detention estate.


Comes on and lights candle.


We lit a candle for you

long before we lit them for Syria

when your home was still the Middle Eastern concern of the day.

It was wet and windy

so we struggled to keep your candle alight.

We’d all spent time with you

been seduced by your infectious smile

and watched as you tumbled

or more accurately

as they pushed you deeper and deeper down


We lit a candle for you

and some of my own light diminished


Solyman Rashed

your name rings in my mind

more often than i ever thought it would

your face

your smile

so clear to me

but only as clear as a projected image of a black and white photocopy of a photograph can ever be

distant and grainy but up close


Project photo


The flirt

The man about town

The leader of lost and disillusioned souls

your smile made them smile, made me smile,

made yourself smile


Catrin, Catrin

theyre trying to grind me down man

they keep asking me when are you going to leave?

when are you going to volunteer to return?

they keep saying its safe there

what do I do?

what should I do?

call me please


Solyman the determined

your refusal to fit the image of vulnerable asylum seeker

that’s what I admired in you

the way you complicated my world view

just by being you

you weren’t perfect

you weren’t deserving

I remember the papers wouldn’t print your story

the public wouldn’t sympathise

you’d committed a crime so you were an untouchable

seems you have to be desperate on a dingy, or floating face down to get our attention

and even then

only just

nothing complicated please


Catrin Catrin

theyre trying to grind me down man

not letting me come out for visits

I think theyre going to move me to another centre

somewhere else


but i dont know where

call me please


I always looked forward to seeing you

you rarely came alone

bringing your latest pal to meet us

you believed we could help them, help you

it was like you had an inherent belief in solidarity

or just this refusal to believe that the system you were stuck in was a true reflection of humanity

“Dungavel’s the best of them all”

you’d proclaim

and I took a strange pride in thinking somehow you were getting a better deal up here

you loved the people, their banter, it suited you

and you couldn’t wait to come to Glasgow

to check out the night life

even the guards you liked

“at least they treat us like humans

as they lock the doors behind us”

still a prison though – right?

and there was of course that one guard that called you ‘boy’

seemingly unaware of what he was doing

we didn’t like him much


Catrin Catrin

theyre trying to grind me down man

theyve brought me down south

its not good here

were just by the airport

its only a matter of time now

call me please


for ten months you were one of our regulars

determined to get out

again and again

another bail application followed by another bail hearing followed by another refusal

I don’t know how many times you tried and failed

they wanted you gone

and indefinite detention was their strategy

you could see what they were doing

again and again

you tried to fight them

again and again

you tried to remain positive

but then you were gone


Catrin Catrin

I just want to take my own life

but they keep stopping me

they wont even let me die here

tho they dont mind if I die there

why are they doing this?

call me please


when your hopes of ever being released had completely disappeared

when you ‘volunteered’ to return to a country you fled fearing for your life

when a war zone became a better prospect than where you were

You’d reached hell surely

and so you ‘chose’ home

and you got two weeks there


Catrin, Catrin

Ive got some sad news

its about Solyman


another piece of collateral damage from Blair’s campaign

another road-side bomb victim

another reminder that the actions of my Government are so often at the centre of the pain

and so

we lit a candle for you

long before we lit them for Syria

when your home was still the Middle Eastern concern of the day


pick up candle – look at image of Solyman


But I don’t want to light anymore candles

we’ve lit enough


there are too many candles already burning

we need

we need to do

we need to do something else


Blows out candle




FIRST FOOT TO ARRIVAL, organised by Joe Douglas and Zinnie Harris, raised money for SDV and for Refugee Survival Trust. It took place on January 15th at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. Thanks to Joe and Zinnie and all the people who performed and donated at the event. 



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