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The Messenger

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#13 A Stranger in Geneva

Listen to #13 A Stranger in Geneva

Aziz in the snow – wearing a white shirt, black gloves and sunglasses – about to throw a snowball

Aziz in the snow, in Switzerland — Photo: Michael Green

'Hard to imagine. Start your life again. Have your own house, your own family.'

– Abdul Aziz Muhamat

Incredibly, Aziz is in Switzerland. And he’s just won a major international award for human rights defenders. 

He’s swamped with attention and adoration, briefings and business cards. But he is only allowed to be in Geneva for three short weeks. Then he has to return to Manus Island – back to the dangerous situation he’s being celebrated for campaigning against.

In this episode, we follow Aziz as he negotiates meetings with diplomats and speeches to the UN. He struggles with an unexpected, oppressive dilemma – should he board a plane back to his brothers on Manus, or seek yet another uncertain path to safety and freedom?


A transcript of this episode is available here (PDF format).

Further reading

In this episode

  • Abdul Aziz Muhamat

  • Michael Green
  • Peggy Hicks
  • Michael Khambatta

Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin. Music used in this episode was produced by Hour House (Mark Leacy and Sam Kenna), except for 'I am the Changer', by Cotton Jones.

More information

The Messenger is a co-production of Behind the Wire and the Wheeler Centre. This episode was originally commissioned and produced for the ABC Radio National programme, Earshot. It was produced by Michael Green. The supervising producer was Lyn Gallacher. The sound engineer was Melissa May.

Narration by Michael Green. Additional editing and mixing by Jon Tjhia.

Thank you

André Dao, Jon Tjhia, Hannah Reich, Bec Fary and Sophie Black. Also Camilla Chapman, Cecilia Cannon and Sean Cole, and Behind the Wire's many participants and volunteers.


Portrait of Abdul Aziz Muhamat

Abdul Aziz Muhamat

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.

Portrait of Michael Green

Michael Green

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.

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.