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#4 Today I’m Really Smiling

A major ruling by the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court offers hope for Aziz – but, amidst the promise, the men receive devastating news from Nauru. Meanwhile, they’re encouraged to accept the option to resettle in PNG. So why doesn’t Aziz take it?

Photo of Abdul Aziz Muhamat

Aziz, with his smuggled phone

We don’t know what next, but this is really one of the first good news that we ever heard.’

Aziz

When Aziz learns of Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruling that detention on Manus Island is illegal, he sends Michael messages describing his joy and excitement. But his elation soon turns to confusion as he and the other men understand they’re anything but free. Meanwhile, news of two separate self-immolations in Nauru’s centre reaches Manus – and hits Aziz hard.

Aziz and the men are always being reminded of two options to end their detention: go home or resettle in PNG. We’ve already heard why he can’t go home. Aziz describes the sometimes hostile relations with local Manusians – including the violent confrontation resulting in the widely-reported murder of his fellow detainee, Reza Berati – as well as some of the things detainees had been told about PNG in order to dissuade them from escaping.

Aziz explains why he firmly believes that starting a new life there is neither safe nor possible … and reveals the other fundamentally important reason why he won’t accept the offer to live in Papua New Guinea.

Warning: This episode of The Messenger includes graphic content and mentions self-harm. If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact one of Australia’s national 24/7 crisis services such as Lifeline on 13 11 14 or at lifeline.org.au, or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

Transcript

Download a transcript of this episode in PDF format.

In this episode

  • Abdul Aziz Muhamat
  • Michael Green
  • Ben Lomai, lawyer

Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin. Music used in this episode includes: ‘There’s Hell in Hello But More in Goodbye’ by Jim O’Rourke, ‘Floating in the Clearest Night’ and ‘The Heart Harmonicon’ by Colleen, ‘Blue Milk’ by Stereolab, ‘Sensuous’ by Cornelius, ‘Cells That Smell Sounds’ by Midori Haino, ‘Mala’ Strana’ by Gui Boratto, ‘The Flat Curving’ by Brokeback, ‘Iberia Eterea’ by Biosphere, ‘Niobe’ by Caribou, ‘Intimate Geometry’ by Anthea Caddy and Thembi Soddell, ‘Stars Aligned Webs Spun’ by Oren Ambarchi, ‘Gong Meditation’ by Cylob and ‘Forskjellige Gode Ting’ by Kim Hiorthøy.

More information

The Messenger is a co-production of Behind the Wire and the Wheeler Centre. It’s produced by Michael Green, André Dao, Hannah Reich and Bec Fary, with Jon Tjhia and Sophie Black at the Wheeler Centre.

Narration by Michael Green. With reporting by Abdul Aziz Muhamat. Additional fact checking by the Guardian‘s Ben Doherty; transcription by Claire McGregor, Victoria Grey, Camilla Chapman, Lena Lettau and many more​. This episode was edited and mixed by Bec Fary and Jon Tjhia.

Thank you

Dana Affleck, Angelica Neville and Sienna Merope. Also to Cameron Ford, and to Behind the Wire’s many participants and volunteers. Behind the Wire is supported by the Bertha Foundation.

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.