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The Messenger

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#7 A Small Village

Listen to #7 A Small Village

I have got energy, so … why can’t I just keep in touch with the outside world?’

Photo of Abdul Aziz Muhamat on his phone

Photo: Michael Green

Even though Aziz is in detention, far away from both his home and from the country whose government is holding him, he’s on his phone all day. He’s sending messages to Michael, or he’s on Facebook with friends and activists, or he’s following the latest news in Australia.

He’s hyperconnected. But his connection to the outside world is complicated and, despite their constant communication, Michael and Aziz never really get to have a regular, real-time conversation.

In this episode, Aziz observes his third Ramadan inside detention. Fasting during the day, he sends Michael messages late into the night. And, along with many of the men on Manus, the Australian federal election campaign raises Aziz’s hopes. On election night, Aziz and his fellow detainees follow the news forensically to try to make sense of the result and what, if anything, it means for the future of the detention centre.

Meanwhile, Michael investigates the possibility of travelling to Manus Island. Could they really meet face to face?


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

In this episode

  • Abdul Aziz Muhamat
  • Michael Green

Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin. Music used in this episode includes ‘Nook & Cranny’ and ‘Grandiflora’ by Biosphere, ‘Pilot’ by Markus Guentner, ‘Ba Ba’ by Sigur Rós, ‘Our’ by Actress, ‘Render 4’ by Cologne Tape, ‘I Found the End’ by Broadcast, ‘Them, Their’ by Jan Jelinek, ‘Passage’ by Oren Ambarchi and ‘Caroline’ by the Babies, with sundry additional music by Jon Tjhia.

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. Additional fact checking by the Guardian's Ben Doherty; transcription by Claire McGregor, Tiarne Cook, Lina Lettau 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 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.