Farhad Bandesh

Farhad has been detained for more than 30 months offshore.  He is both an artist and a poet, coming to poetry whilst incarcerated in our black site on Manus.


Distressing, depressing moods move and
Wash like waves
Inside me now
Though I go above
To survey the sea
To gaze at waves
In a wind that makes
Tree limbs dance
And leaves to tremble.
How romantic this should be!
But never now for me
Glaring at Mother Nature from my cursed grey cage
Speaking from my heart
In nothing but the language of complaint.
Then I’m in a jail of grief-dreams
When night surrounds me
With its own particular darkness
Yet still I wait
Even now
For the light
Of Freedom.

– Farhhad Bandash
Edit by Melita Luck


Screaming night

I hear screaming within a silent night

The one that you hear, but can’t see
The one that you know is a human voice, but you can’t help

The one whose suffering you feel, but you can’t share their pain

You hear their steps, but you are waiting

for the time they can appear
to talk,
to be heard and be helped.

They are still screaming

It sounds like a storm on a summer night.
Their world is dark and everyone around them

pretends to be blind or deaf, of the reality.
They talk carefully, when they tell their awful past.

This is their story.

It’s part of their history.

This is what is worthy to write.


– Farhad, 2015



My soul once provided

Only tranquility

And it would not make my body impatient.

Now my soul’s tenderness for my body

Has been forgotten.

My body is in tatters.

My soul follows

To notify you:

“I am talking about Freedom!

You throw me into the corners of your dark shadows.

You put me into the very depths of exile.

The delicacy of my soul and body is no more

In this endless shadow.

If this continues any longer

I will not see anymore light

And my soul will be forever


– Farhad Bandesh,

Manus Island, 2015




Freedom so sweet

Yet for me

Merely a mirage.


– Farhad Bandesh,

Manus Island, 2015




Being without you is not my fear.

Nor is it from the grief of being alone in a prison’s embrace.

How long must I look at the calendar of life

Through the burning red of my eyes?

Where shall I sit in tis prison you made for me

Out of hard metal?

What price should be returned to me for the price of myself;

For the loss of my youth? For my banished life?

Oh Freedom! How I longed to sit in the corner of your heart!

How I laugh at you whilst you cry at my condition.

I am entirely spent yet have so much more to say.

Oh my god! How could life have become so sorrowful

That I almost drowned in the pool at the bottom of my endless tears?

Yet to sit now, in mourning, in my cage, is sweet

Yearning for that precious lost time.

My fear is not coming from my loss of you now

Nor from the grief of being all alone

Within the possibility of being destroyed.

Because breathing simply the scent of the freedom to weep is good.

It’s tick-rock is pleasing; gives colour to my life

Separating me from your yearning,

Suspended in the sky.

It is is restful on this full-bodied Freedom Mountain!


– Farhad Bandesh,

Manus Island, 2015




Distressing, depressing moods move and

wash like waves

inside me now

though I go above

to survey the sea

to gaze at waves

in a wind that makes

tree limbs dance

and leaves to tremble.

How romantic this should be!

But never now for me.

Glaring at Mother Nature from my cursed grey cage

Speaking from my heart

in nothing but the language of complaint.

Then I’m in a jail of grief-dreams

when night surrounds me

with its own particular darkness.

Yet still I wait

even now

for the light

of Freedom.


– Farhad Bandash,

Manus Island, 2015




A mother calls from an extreme distance

And her shout shakes the earth

Even the sky becomes impatient and dark

While she cries “Why are you captive? Why?”

When your camp-worker son returns to you

You search for answers, saying,

“Why John , can’t you bring these seekers of asylum

Home to me where I can give them a life?

Next time. Promise me.

Next time you come!”

But when John says “I can’t do it.

They live in a cage.

Immigration forbids it.”

Tears will fall down your face

You will collapse with a lump in your throat

Unable to find words

Choking with tears.

Everyday with your heart filled with love

You pray for our freedom

And it is for you I write this poem

Our dear mother.

I write and I say

“Wait! Our day of freedom is near and

All of us love you,

Our Mother.”


– Farhad Bandesh,

Manus Island, 2015




Listen to birds in evergreen trees

Where only good news is in their world

And where nature keeps perfectly quiet.

There arise now sighs and groans from throats

Of seekers of asylum who found no refuge here.

Yet a cry for freedom stays stifled behind their lips

In a silence louder than a scream

Which no one will hear.

The birds and creatures, even grass and trees

Stare innocently at faces made of woven oppression.

This land, understanding their pain,

Does not even murmur to the sunrise

And the wind arriving gustily from the beach

Can see that the trees will not dance with it.

So long it is that news has not come with the wind;

Does even the wind understand us?

It takes the waves of the sea to break the calm

Of this noiselessness.

And that silence is a scream,

A shout louder than nature’s quiet.

A roar from the bottom of those hearts of men,

Of utterly worn refugees.

And the silence breaks its silence

Setting free it’s songs from the depths

The shouts of sleepers

Releasing the voices of the voiceless

Screaming”Freedom! Freedom!”


– Farhad Bandesh,

Manus Island 2016