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The Messenger

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#9 Freedom Is Not Free

Listen to #9 Freedom Is Not Free

A photo of Abdul Aziz Muhamat with Michael Green, on Manus Island

Abdul Aziz Muhamat and Michael Green on Manus Island — (Photo: Behrouz Boochani)

'Freedom is not free. You have to pay for it. And we pay; now we are paying for our freedoms.'

Abdul Aziz Muhamat

Just before Christmas of 2016, Aziz is transferred to Port Moresby for knee surgery. With better phone reception, Michael and Aziz share a long phone call in which they reflect on the year that’s ending, the holiday season and the months since they met face to face on Manus Island.

The change in Aziz’s circumstances is only temporary, but it’s still a change – and the call feels like a rare break in the clouds. But just two days later – on Christmas Day – Michael hears news that Aziz’s friend and fellow Sudanese detainee, Faysal Ishak Ahmed, has died.


Download a transcript of this episode 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 ‘Passage’ by Oren Ambarchi, ‘We Let the “S” Hang in the Air’ by Brokeback, ‘Pulcinella’ by Kazumasa Hashimoto, ‘How Now (1968) for Piano’ by Philip Glass, ‘Meditation’ by Lori Scacco, ‘Waltz for Aidan’ by Mogwai, ‘Mandarinerna’ by Kim Hiorthøy, ‘Future Light’ by Nick Huggins, ‘Non Song’ by To Rococo Rot, ‘Momento’ by Murcof, ‘Initial Gesture Protraction’ by Tortoise, ‘Trace’ by Rhythm&Sound, ‘Under the Roof’ by Colleen and ‘I Found the End’ by Broadcast.

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, Carolyn Turner, Eugenia Zoubtchenko 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.