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The Messenger

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#2 I Need to Format My Memory

Listen to #2 I Need to Format My Memory

As the world reacts to the Trump administration’s new US border policies, Aziz’s situation is as uncertain as ever, with no end in sight. Life on Manus grinds on. 

When we see someone who is just hurting himself or he is trying to commit suicide, sometimes you just drag yourself away because of not getting the pictures in your head.’


In this episode, Aziz and Michael start to get to know each other – and Aziz begins to paint a picture for Michael of daily life in the detention centre.

Where is it, and why is it there? What are the conditions really like, and what’s it like to live there with more than 800 other men and no prospect of release?

Back in Melbourne, Michael meets Aziz’s friend John Zammit, a former Manus Island psychologist who shares his experiences of the detention centre, and his recollections of Aziz. 

With help from John, and from Aziz’s many messages, Michael pieces together a sense of Aziz’s daily routine, just as order in the camp gets turned upside down …

Warning: This episode of The Messenger mentions suicide and 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, or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.


Download a PDF transcript of this episode here.

Further reading

In this episode

  • Abdul Aziz Muhamat
  • Michael Green
  • John Zammit, former Manus Island psychologist

Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin. Music used in this episode includes: ’02-07-02’, ‘03-19-02’, ‘03-03-02’ and ‘03-23-02’ by Taylor Deupree and Kenneth Kirschner, ‘Nord’ by Radian, ‘Organ in the Attic Sings the Blues’ by Deadbeat, ‘Iberia Eteria’ by Biosphere, ‘Forskjellige Gode Ting’ and ‘Alt Maste Bli Anorlunda’ by Kim Hiorthøy, ‘Mario Bava Sleeps In a Little Later Than He Expected To’ and ‘What True Self? Feels Bogus, Let’s Watch Jason X’ by Chris Zabriskie, ‘Northern Maine Junction’ by Chessie, ‘Pilot’ by Markus Guentner, ‘So Quick, Bright Things Come to Confusion’ by Because of Ghosts, ‘Stereo Music For Yamaha Disklavier Prototype, Electric Guitar, And Computer’ by Keith Fullerton Whitman, ‘Transmission 2’ by DJ Shadow, ‘Lips’ by Plurabelle and ‘Burnt Klubgirl Lid Tone’ by Nels Cline and Thurston Moore.

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. Reporting by Abdul Aziz Muhamat. Additional fact checking by the Guardian's Ben Doherty; transcription by Claire McGregor, Victoria Grey, Marie-Louise Bethune, Julia Earley, 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.


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.