By The Wheeler Centre
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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.
||ExplicitWhat I Can See Right Now||--||17 12 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitI'm Not Really Settled Right Now||An eventful week has passed. After PNG immigration officials and police entered the decommissioned detention centre, destroying food, water and belongings, the 421 men remaining there are forced to relocate to the other facilities on Manus Island. After a brief spell of homelessness, Aziz has found a bed in the East Lorengau transit centre. In a chance meeting with Michael, he explains how he’s adjusting to the new situation – and trying to regain his energy to continue working.||28 11 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitWe Are Looking After Each Other||Rain comes. In his voice messages, Aziz sounds unwell – but speaks at length about how, in spite of their living conditions, the men finally feel they have some control over their lives. He tells Michael about how they're cooperating with each other, too – splitting duties like security and the daily cleaning of the compound. 'We don't want always want to get the attention of the people about the hardship,' he explains.'We are just paying the price for our freedom.'||20 11 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitIt's Been 17 Days||Seventeen days into the stand-off with authorities, Aziz tells Michael about how men in the detention centre are dealing with the lack of water after tanks and wells were destroyed – as well as the men's medical needs, many arising from the ad hoc water supply. And with New Zealand's resettlement offer in the headlines, he reflects on why Australia has so far refused it.||17 11 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitWe Are Just Living on a Daily Basis||Aziz reports that Papua New Guinean immigration officials have been entering the detention centre to destroy tanks and wells. Meanwhile, the men remaining in the camp have tried to avoid provocation and confrontation. Daily protests have moved to a cooler time of day to account for their lack of water and shade. Aziz says things are quiet in the camp, and spirits are generally positive. Michael arrives on Manus Island.||14 11 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitEverything That We Have Built||Papua New Guinean immigration officers have removed fences, shade and clotheslines from the decommissioned detention centre. Rubbish bins storing rain and well water have been tipped out, and makeshift wells destroyed. Aziz's weary and infrequent messages describe the increasingly strained situation.||10 11 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitThere is a Reason||After Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court rejects an appeal to restore power, water and food to the decommissioned detention centre, Aziz says the men never held much hope for a positive outcome in the first place. When Michael expresses concern about the ever-escalating situation, Aziz vents his mistrust of the courts and politicians, and defends the men’s decision to stay.||7 11 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitWe Are Hoping to Find a Way to Communicate||As the detainees' isolation intensifies, Aziz tells Michael about the burden of his responsibilities – and his hope of some negotiation to end the stand-off. Like many of the other men, Aziz has tried to shield his family from knowing about his predicament. But with reports about the centre emerging in international media, he is compelled to lie his brother, who's recognised him in a photo.||4 11 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitWe Wait for the Day to Make a Plan for Us||Three days after the official closure of the detention centre, several hundred detainees remain barricaded inside the gates without water, power or food supplied. Aziz describes the scene, and explains some of the ways the men are getting by.||2 11 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitWe Are Just Ready||Mere hours from Australia's deadline to close Manus Island's immigration detention centre, tensions are running high amongst detainees. Why does Aziz seem calm?||30 10 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitWe Never Had Any Storm Like This||The security guards and other staff are leaving the detention centre. Aziz explains how the detainees are preparing for life without power.||26 10 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitPosition is Clear||As the days count down to the end of October – when Australia has promised to close the detention centre on Manus Island – Aziz's short voice messages outline the situation as he understands it, and how he intends to respond.||23 10 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitHello Hello||With just ten days left before Australia closes the detention centre on Manus Island, Aziz leaves a few short voice messages, explaining how he is feeling.||21 10 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#10 It Runs In My Blood||After seven long months in Port Moresby recovering from knee surgery, Aziz finally returns to Manus Island. He’s overjoyed to be home in the detention centre – but just as he returns, the Australian government begins shutting some of the centre’s compounds, forcing the men out and pressuring them to return home or resettle in PNG. Uncertainty prevails about America's deal with Australia, and October 2017 approaches – when the centre is supposed to be shut down completely. So what will happen to the men who live there?||27 9 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#9 Freedom Is Not Free||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.||21 9 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#8 Kind of a Dream||It’s July 2016. On the morning Michael flies to Manus Island, Aziz leaves the detention centre for the first time in nearly three years. In this episode, Aziz and Michael finally meet in person. Michael also meets some people from Manus Island, who explain how they feel about having the detention centre on their island. Together with Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist and detainee, Aziz and Michael take a boat to a nearby island to swim, eat together, and escape the shadow of the detention centre. For Aziz, it’s an exhilarating time, full of new experiences and unexpected joys – but he knows it will soon come to an end.||6 7 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#7 A Small Village||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.||9 5 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#6 A New Plan||After months of interviews, Aziz finally sits facing an immigration officer and an interpreter, about to find out whether he’s been granted refugee status. But he’s too angry to talk about that. What he'd would rather know is why he’s just spent weeks locked in a jail cell in Lorengau, then abruptly released without charge. In this episode, Aziz tells Michael about the hunger strike that lead to his imprisonment, and why he continues to pursue big and small acts of resistance – despite the consequences.||9 4 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#5 A Safer Place||In this episode, Aziz tells Michael what it actually feels like to make that journey, and why he made the decision to get on a boat bound for Australia. What was going through his mind? Did he know what he was getting himself in for before he stepped onboard? Michael also speaks to somebody with a unique perspective to offer, because it was his job to stop the boats. Former immigration department official Greg Lake tells Michael about the extraordinary lengths he was asked to go to to carry out official government policy – and why he ultimately walked away from the task.||12 3 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#4 Today I'm Really Smiling||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?||22 2 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#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’? 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.||9 2 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#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. 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…||1 2 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#1 Aziz, Not a Boat Number||In episode 1 of The Messenger, Aziz and Michael make contact – and Aziz begins sharing some of the smaller details of life in detention on Manus Island.||22 1 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#0 Welcome||The Messenger is a new podcast series from Behind the Wire and the Wheeler Centre. It's about Abdul Aziz Muhamat – and his life inside the Australian-run immigration detention centre on Manus Island. The series begins from Monday 23 January 2017 – but you can subscribe to the feed now in iTunes or your favourite podcast app. And don't forget to sign up to the Wheeler Weekly for updates, too.||18 1 2017||Free||View in iTunes|
Compelling and very thought provoking. Well worth a listen!
Just finished first episode and I'm hooked!
Can't wait to hear more of this! Professionally produced, well edited, its clear a lot of time and thought has gone into this. A fascinating and unique story to be hearing. Highly recommend.
Australia must listen
Compelling and rare accounts of life in detention. Forcing humanity into a politically charged and often faceless issue.