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#3 I Have Got Some People Waiting For Me
Aziz’s life has been a story of chance – and choice. As Michael pieces together Aziz’s journey from Sudan to Manus, he realises Aziz has been searching for a safe place for about eight years. So what gives him the ability, and the energy, to speak out? How has Aziz fought for so long, and what makes him want to be ‘the messenger’?
‘I’m pretending like I’m really happy, and laugh, and you know, smiling on the phones and doing stuff like that – so they feel like, “Oh, my son is really living in a good environment”. So they think like that, but the opposite is the truth.’
Aziz tells Michael, ‘I have got some people ...waiting for me. They love me, they want me to be with them.’ Haltingly, and sometimes with great difficulty, Aziz starts to share stories about his home, the family that he longs to see, and why he fled.
Looking to find out more, Michael speaks to Sudan expert Anne Bartlett about the current situation there. As Aziz shares snapshots from his past, Anne talks Michael through the conflict in Sudan, which, despite leaving the headlines long ago, continues to unfold.
Michael worries that he’s adding to Aziz’s trauma by digging up painful memories – ever aware of how hard it is to have these kinds of conversations in short, overlapping messages, without the benefit of reading someone’s signals face to face.
Meanwhile, Aziz weighs up how much to tell his family about Manus, and explains to Michael why he’s sometimes tortured by regret.
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.
Download a PDF transcript of this episode here.
In this episode
- Abdul Aziz Muhamat
- Michael Green
- Associate Professor Anne Bartlett, University of New South Wales, President of the Sudan Studies Association
Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin. Music used in this episode includes: 'Blue Milk' by Stereolab, 'Up the Box' by Andy Stott, 'Feld' by To Rococo Rot, 'Firefly' and 'Four-Day Interval' by Tortoise, 'Cutting Branches for a Temporary Shelter' by Penguin Cafe Orchestra, 'Ending' by Kazumasa Hashimoto, 'Remedios the Beauty' by Oren Ambarchi, 'Lazyboat' and 'Vostok' by Triosk, 'Passages' by Bowery Electric, 'Self Seal Mishap' by Tennis and 'Ba Ba' by Sigur Rós.
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.
Dana Affleck, Angelica Neville and Sienna Merope. Also to Cameron Ford and Heidi Pett, and to Behind the Wire’s many participants and volunteers. Behind the Wire is supported by the Bertha Foundation.
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.