Podcast episodeCover image for of #4 Today I'm Really Smiling

4 Today I’m Really Smiling  /  Migration

A major ruling by the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court offers hope for Aziz – but, amidst the promise, the men receive devastating news from Nauru. Meanwhile, they’re encouraged to accept the option to resettle in PNG. So why doesn’t Aziz take it?

Aziz, with his smuggled phone

'We don’t know what next, but this is really one of the first good news that we ever heard.'


When Aziz learns of Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruling that detention on Manus Island is illegal, he sends Michael messages describing his joy and excitement. But his elation soon turns to confusion as he and the other men understand they’re anything but free. Meanwhile, news of two separate self-immolations in Nauru’s centre reaches Manus – and hits Aziz hard.

Aziz and the men are always being reminded of two options to end their detention: go home or resettle in PNG. We’ve already heard why he can’t go home. Aziz describes the sometimes hostile relations with local Manusians – including the violent confrontation resulting in the widely-reported murder of his fellow detainee, Reza Berati – as well as some of the things detainees had been told about PNG in order to dissuade them from escaping.

Aziz explains why he firmly believes that starting a new life there is neither safe nor possible … and reveals the other fundamentally important reason why he won’t accept the offer to live in Papua New Guinea.

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, or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.


Download a transcript of this episode in PDF format.

In this episode Abdul Aziz Muhamat Michael Green Ben Lomai, lawyer

Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin. Music used in this episode includes: ‘There’s Hell in Hello But More in Goodbye’ by Jim O’Rourke, ‘Floating in the Clearest Night’ and ‘The Heart Harmonicon’ by Colleen, ‘Blue Milk’ by Stereolab, ‘Sensuous’ by Cornelius, ‘Cells…

Podcast episodeCover image for of Introducing our newest podcast series, The Messenger

Introducing our newest podcast series, The Messenger  /  Migration

To begin 2017, in partnership with volunteer-run oral history project Behind the Wire, we launched a new podcast series. It's called The Messenger, and we'd like to share its first episode with you.

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. It's reported almost entirely via WhatsApp voice messages sent from a smuggled phone. You might remember it from last year's podcast competition, So You Think You Can Pod; it was the winning entry.

About the episode

As a journalist, Michael Green had spoken to a lot of people who’ve been held in detention centres. Some were there for a few weeks, and others for as long as six years.

But he’d never spoken to someone who was still inside a detention centre, and that’s because Australia’s immigration department, and the governments of Nauru and Manus, have traditionally made it very difficult for journalists to communicate with detainees. Visitors aren’t allowed to make recordings, and the people who came by boat weren’t initially allowed to use their own phones

Then, early last year, Michael was given the phone number of a man who was still in detention on Manus Island. His name was Aziz. He was from Sudan, and he had a smuggled phone. But that was all Michael knew. So he sent him a text message saying hello, and he asked if we could speak on the phone. Aziz wrote back saying the reception in his room was too weak for calls.

Michael thought they’d have to communicate entirely by text. Then he realised that on WhatsApp, you can send little voice messages that get delivered whenever you’re in range.

And so, in March 2016, Michael and Aziz first made contact.

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