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The Messenger

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#11 We Lived as a Nation

Listen to #11 We Lived as a Nation

 

Photo of several men standing around a bin, which has been sunk into the ground, acting as a well. One man shines a flashlight on the device

The men demonstrate their improvised well — Photo: Michael Green

Twenty four days we lived as a nation … The only way I can describe [it] is that we were a nation.’

– Abdul Aziz Muhamat

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?

Transcript

A transcript of this episode is coming soon.

Further reading

• '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.

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. 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.

Thank you

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.

Discussion

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.

The Messenger

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.

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