Manus Island’s offshore immigration detention centre has consistently featured in the headlines – yet it remains largely unknown and unknowable to the public. Few journalists have been granted access; visitors can’t make recordings; and, historically, detainees have been banned from using their own phones.
But when it comes to Australian immigration policy, the goalposts are constantly moving, and we rarely hear from the people whose destinies are at stake.
Abdul Aziz Muhamat – originally from Sudan, now a refugee detained on Manus – has been using a smuggled phone to give Australians a first-hand account of life in detention. Since March 2016, Aziz has been corresponding with Melbourne journalist Michael Green, using WhatsApp to relay voice messages. The Messenger is a ten-part podcast series from the Wheeler Centre and Behind the Wire – and the winning pitch in last year’s So You Think You Can Pod competition – and it’s based on their correspondence.
Hear directly from Aziz himself (appearing via Skype) at this panel discussion of life on Manus and the making of the podcast. He’ll be joined by Behind the Wire’s Michael Green, psychologist and former Manus Island health worker John Zammit and Guardian correspondent Ben Doherty.
Hosted by ABC 7.30 reporter (and Wheeler Centre Question Time anchor) Madeleine Morris.
Abdul Aziz Muhamat is a 24-year-old man from Darfur, Sudan. He is from the Zaghawa ethnicity, and with his family, he fled his village across the border to a refugee camp in Chad. He arrived in Australia by boat in 2013 and was taken to Manus Island, where he remains.
John Zammit is a psychologist and former Manus Island health worker.
Michael Green is a journalist in Melbourne. He has written about environmental and social issues for the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Nature, Nautilus, Smith Journal, Right Now and Overland, among others. He is the coordinator of Behind the Wire, and has been working on a book of people’s stories from detention called They Cannot Take the Sky, which will be published in March 2017 by Allen & Unwin. He is also producing an exhibition at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum based on the stories in the book, which will open on 17 March 2017.
Ben Doherty is a reporter for Guardian Australia. He is a former foreign correspondent for the Guardian, covering South-East Asia, and for the Sydney Morning Herald, reporting across South Asia. He's won two Walkley awards for his foreign reporting.
Madeleine Morris is a Melbourne-based reporter for ABC television’s 7.30. She was formerly a presenter for the BBC in London and reported from dozens of countries before returning to her native Australia. She is the author of Guilt-Free Bottle-Feeding: Why Your Formula-Fed Baby Can Grow Up To Be Happy, Healthy and Smart, published by Finch.
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