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#11 We Lived as a Nation
– Abdul Aziz Muhamat
‘Twenty four days we lived as a nation … The only way I can describe [it] is that we were a nation.’
The detention centre on Manus Island might be closed, but Aziz – and the vast majority of the men who were held there – remain on the island, living in three different centres.
By early 2019, Aziz is well into his sixth year, waiting. In that time, he’s felt free for only a few weeks – those few weeks when the immigration detention system disintegrated around him.
In this episode, The Messenger returns to late 2017, and the crucial period when Australia shut down the Manus Regional Processing Centre and the men refused to leave. We take you inside the centre as the standoff unfolds. There are no guards, no caseworkers, no immigration officials – and no food, water, medicine or electricity.
Aziz and his friends are in charge. How did they survive? And why did they stay?
A transcript of this episode is coming soon.
• 'No Exit: The ongoing abuses of Australia’s refugee policy' by Michael Green, Harper's Magazine, July 2018
In this episode
Abdul Aziz Muhamat
- Michael Green
- Behrouz Boochani
- Benham Satah
- Poli Boas
- Clarence Parisau
- Michael Kuweh
Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin. Music used in this episode includes 'Unrest' by Adrian Klumpes, 'La Mer' by Pivot, 'Southeast of Boston' by June of 44, 'Out with the Cold' by Kaffe Matthews, 'Rhodes Viola Multiple' by Keith Fullerton Whitman, '1.3'by Piano Magic, 'Passages' by Bowery Electric, 'Shine' by Klara Lewis and 'Iberia Eteria' by Biosphere.
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. Transcription by Claire McGregor, Carolyn Turner, Tiarne Cook, Julia Earley and many more. This episode was edited and mixed by Michael Green and Jon Tjhia.
Dana Affleck, Angelica Neville, Camilla Chapman and Sienna Merope. Also to Behind the Wire’s many participants and volunteers. Michael Green's travel to Papua New Guinea was supported by a grant from the Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Fund.
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 to a refugee camp. He arrived in Australia by boat in 2013 and was taken to Manus Island, where he remains.
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.
All messages as part of this discussion and any opinions, advice, statements, or other information contained in any messages or transmitted by any third party are the responsibility of the author of that message and not the Wheeler Centre.
From Behind the Wire and the Wheeler Centre, The Messenger brings you into the Australian immigration detention centre on Manus Island – and reveals, in intimate detail, one man's experience of what it's really like to flee tragedy and seek asylum by boat.