I am from Burma and I am 67 years old






image c. Janet Galbraith

I am from Burma and I am 67 years old

as told to Farhad Shah by a Burmese woman detained on Nauru 2017
Voiced by Janet Galbraith
A woman from Burma held hostage in Nauru for more than 4 years now asked F.S. to share her story.
Thank you to F.S. for your sensitive work.
Her story was part of WTF's empty chair installation at QPF 2017.







The bunk has become my entire world. A cave, coffin and a grave.

Regardless of how people see it, it is the weakness of my tears of anguish, my happiness, my hopelessness, my grief, and this maturity I have developed beyond my years in this deathly setting.

No one can see the memories I have shared with this bunk bed over the past four years unless they have seen it through my eyes, seen it as I see it.

It’d be nothing less than a big surprise for others, peer through my lenses.

It was an open wound at the beginning, as I was not allowed to cover it with anything. On top of everything else I had only one bed sheet to protect me from the heat, to erase my sweat and endless tears.

As years passed I started ripping paper boxes. And my clothing around my bunk I swapped some packets of cigarettes for a blue bed sheet. My white private room becoming a colourful world.

I am surrounded by people. They’re like skeletons, their brains are not functioning, their hearts are not beating anymore. I open the door of my little makeshift room and retire in my cave.

The light of the colours loosen my heart and make my brain work smoothly giving me a sense of freedom. There are pictures and, there are pictures of birds and trees on my bedsheet. There are prints of lions, cats and monkeys on my blanket. The flowers and butterflies keep playing throughout the days and nights. The song that they sing helps me talk to them. Angel moon.

There is a hole in the roof which is on the right side of my bunk. I correspond with my angel moon through this tiny hole. My small world glitters in the moonlight and the little flashes of light produces sparks of hope in my heart. My angel moon informs me so that I don’t get lost in the darkness from where I am unlikely to bounce back.

We laugh, cry, play, talk, make memories and I listen to my angel moon’s songs throughout the night. It forms my world with the feeling of safety, love and compassion. There is peace in my little home, a peace I’ve been seeking from a very young age.

In town, I am lost, frightened, suffocated. Being free is not normal anymore. In my bunk is where I belong. No jealousy, animosity, fight, cruelty, inhumanity, racism, religion and inferiority in my home. My entire world is full of love, acceptance, compassion and respect. I love my bunk because it has given me so much to live for and a lot to write about. It has made me the person who I have become. I don’t know what I would be without it.


Kazem is a heavy metal musician and poet from Kurdistan. He is currently incarcerated on Manus Island.



Unreal Sin

Cold feeling of unreal sin

Is suffering me. I cannot talk

‘Cause this’ not a logical world

You have given me an unreal sin.


You set me on the fire of your anger-

It’s probably better that its fallen apart.

I want to talk although the love’s gone

I want to talk despite the ruin done.


The twilight space between us

Is giving me a stifling feeling

My pulse is getting weak, you know?

You judged me ’cause of no sin.


I don’t deserve to bear the pain

No darling, no, not accused of betrayal

I don’t deserve to bear the pain

The moment’s gone ’cause of you.


I know the love is beyond help

Darling?  Your verdict is irresistible.

I want to talk although the love’s gone

I want to talk despite the ruin done.


  • Kazem February 2018


Please listen to this poem in Farsi with guitar accompaniment at the link just below:

An unpassable bridge 2017-07-31 Kazem poem 2

image by Hannah Patchett







An un-passable bridge

My guitar is my soul mate nowadays
I don’t care for the world anymore
I play my guitar with a heart full of sadness
My eyes drizzle like rain.

My heart is absent minded.
It’s going to tell the secret words.
It has a heavy pain to reveal.
It is profoundly sad,
sad like someone who has lost his sweetheart.
It has many words to say
but there are no worthy people to talk to.

My restless heart wants to fly
to take a message to someone.
But what benefit is there when there is no way to fly
My heart is exhausted from waiting and effort.
It’s breathless and alone.
It’s become weak.
It’s looking for a way to fly.

My heart with a hidden secret
and a world full of wounds in a jail
has no path to freedom.
It’s been condemned to a sorrowful separation.

I wish there was a kind person to give a chance to this prisoner
Give him a smile again as a gift.
Let him free from fetters and alienation.
What a pity that it’s all a dream!
My helpless heart has never seen bliss.
The jailer is bringing new chains to fasten.
This is a different prison
Oh, banish the sorrow of my unblessed heart.

I’m like an iron, you know, I am strong!

The white demons have arrived with anger
to promise another Reza’s death.
They have sharp claws
They are roaring
The ground is wet from blood
though no-one has been killed yet.

They want a volunteer.
Someone like Reza Barrati.
Someone to be annihilated again.
The white demons are starving again.
They want to feed themselves with my own body
and celebrate until the next day.
They have no sorrow, no sadness, no pain.

My mother, my love, be strong.
I know it’s hard to say goodbye to your son.

Without seeing it, I can read the verdict:
My young body must be killed.
There is no sign for humanity.
There are no rights for humanity.
Power is in the hands of wicked people.
They have made the world
an un-passable bridge.