I was born in 1962 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Soon after my birth we moved to Slavonia (Croatia), where I grew up. I did military service in Serbia, and after that – in 1983 – I came to Maribor, Slovenia. I unregistered in Croatia, I got a certificate of no criminal record and registered permanent residence in Maribor. I went to the plebiscite, first parliamentary and presidential elections. At that time I still had the old Yugoslav passport issued in Croatia, which was valid until 1990, and in Maribor I got an ID card.
In 1983, when I came to Slovenia, I got a job in one company in Maribor and worked there until 1986. Then I got a job in another company and lost it in July 1993 as redundant. Up to then I was working normally, the company never mentioned that I had to arrange a work permit and never warned me that it was important to submit an application for citizenship. I signed up at the unemployment office and was for some time (for about a year) receiving compensation. Then I occasionally worked for a wine cellar (picking apples) and they told me that I need a working visa and that I should go to the municipality to arrange it. I did not understand why.
When Slovenia became independent I did not submit an application for Slovenian citizenship because I did not know what it means, why it was necessary and what would the consequences be. In 1994 I should had extended the application to continue receiving financial aid at the unemployment office. When I got there to arrange it, they told me to go to the municipality to ask for a certificate of permanent residence. When I got to municipality, they destroyed my ID card (issued in Maribor) and tossed it in the trash! When I asked why they did that, they told me that I should be happy they did not call the police and that I was even lucky to be in this state. They did not tell me that I have to arrange my status of a foreigner, and that I need a working permit in order to work. Because they were so unfriendly, I left and did not ask them any questions.
In 1988 I was enrolled in secondary school for metalworking in Maribor (while still working), and I could not finish it because I did not have documents required for the final exams (this was probably in 1994). I still have my high school transcripts and certificates.
From 1983 to 1997 I lived in the house of one older lady that I was taking care of and helping her financially while I was still employed. In return this lady gave me a room and let me live with her. The lady died in 1993, and I continued to live in her house until 1997, when her heirs kicked me out of the house. Since then I am homeless. Bills on my name were coming to the address where I lived until 1997. I received a reminder that I did not pay income tax (cannot remember until which year), and at the end the court settlement, the threat of seizure etc. I have everything saved. My friends and acquaintances are helping me all the time, letting me sleep in their houses. Sometimes I sleep in some work shop, and during summer in the garden, where I have a hut. Occasionally I work on black market.
I did not have any problems with police. It was about two years ago that the police stopped me on the street and asked me for documents. I said that I do not have any identity documents. At first they were threatening me and said there is a big penalty if I do not have the documents. Then I said I was erased and that I really do not have any documents. The police said that I should have said so at the beginning – and that I am free to go. This was the only case of legitimation in the last twenty years.
I learned from friends that I am eligible for identity card for foreigners. I tried to get it and I still have confirmation of that. I did not get it because they told me I need to bring a birth certificate and proof of no criminal record from Bosnia and Herzegovina. That was in the late 90′s, but because of the war I did not go anywhere. Even if I did, I would not be able to return to Slovenia because I did not have any documents. Moreover, I was just born in Bosnia, but never lived there. In the municipality where I was born, they probably would not even give me documents, also because of tensions between Muslims and Serbs in that area. Later, around 2002 or 2003, I submitted an application for Slovenian citizenship and got it denied. Then I went to Ljubljana to one lawyer who wrote me a complaint – but got it denied again. In the local community, where I went to vote in the early 90′s, I asked for confirmation that I came there to vote. I took this to the municipality of Maribor, in order to prove that I was actually living in Maribor. The employees at municipality yelled at me and said how I could obtain such a certificate, since this is a state’s confidential information. Then they even called the secretary of the local community, who gave me this certificate, and yelled at him as well how could he had written such a confirmation.
Due to the erasure, I had lost the house in which I lived, I could not obtain a driver’s license, I could not finish high school and I could not get another job. I know that today I would have a job if I had legal status. Since I did not have health insurance and money to pay the dentist, I have lost quite few teeth. Apart from these problems with teeth, I did not have health problems. If I ever needed any medication, my friends gave it to me. After the erasure, my mother and father died (in Croatia), and I could not go to the funeral because I was not able to cross the border. I have a brother and two sisters in Serbia, but I have not seen them since I was there in the army.
I did not know that there were so many erased people. I also did not know what, how and why the erasure occurred. I knew a few people who had problems, but I did not know exactly why. I also knew a family, which was hiding in their house for half of a year. Only later I realized that today everything would be all right, if I had applied for citizenship when Slovenia became independent. I am most hurt by the fact that no one has been held accountable for the erasure yet, that no one has admitted the mistake yet. Slovenia does not respect people – even honest people – and it is no wonder that more and more people are moving abroad.