Erfan Dana

My name is Erfan, I’m 21 years of age this year. Originally, from Afghanistan. I felt threatened and obliged to flee my motherland due to ongoing war and everyday fighting in Afghanistan. I arrived in Indonesia in 2014 when I had only 18 years of age. Since then I have been incarcerated in the state of constant uncertainty in one of the Indonesian detention centres, so-called “Pontianak” .  After many years of imprisonment, I still don’t know how long more I must stay in this prison camp before my freedom comes. So, whenever I miss my family members, especially my goodwill mother, I pick up a piece of paper with my pen then start writing about my unforgettable old sweet memories which I had with my family members back in Afghanistan. Though, I know they can’t read my heartfelt messages I will keep writing for them. I believe, there will come a day when I get reunited with my lovely and caring family members. I will show all my writings and tell them I never forgot their love and support even for a second while I was living in prison.

………………..

12th February 2018

To be virtuous is to be free. Being humane does not come at an enormous cost!

There was a moment when I recognised my humanity, and it was then that I also realised the sincerity and nobility of my humanity. From that time on I severed my connection with religion, I lost my faith, I broke away from the confines of racial hierarchies, culture divisions and ethnic conflict… forever. For me, to be a righteous human, to be humane, to be compassionate came to mean something new; for me they reached a greater level of valour in my contact with different peoples, and especially toward animals; for me they meant a deeper love for humanity. I realised true kindness, I recognised true affection, I revelled in togetherness.

For over four years I have been displaced and alienated from my family, I have suffered greatly, I have experienced so many forms of pain. There were times when I was degraded due to my Afghan identity. I would be verbally abused and denigrated when dealing with a whole range of diverse people, groups of people from completely different backgrounds, because I did not appear well-off, I did not wear expensive and fashionable clothes; but I always maintained principles of humanity, I maintained a code of ethics.

The hardest part of all these difficulties has been spending three years of my life in the corner of a prison. I have been reduced to a prisoner, forced to live in the worst state possible, even though I have not committed any crime – stripped of a life of freedom and dignity due to my status as a displaced person and my weak financial situation. I have ended up wasting time in this repulsive and depressing place. In most cases I have been resisting the injustice and violence of the guards and immigration officers, and I have become a somewhat expert in using whatever strategies humanly possible. Without fear of damaging my case for protection, I have been defending homeless and vulnerable refugees.
Ultimately, after all these bitter and edifying encounters I have realised that no one is your friend, no one will come to your aid, no one recognises you as a soul who deserves freedom. No one is there for you, just because you are not religiously inclined, because you do not have religious faith. And I have come to understand that humans, and humanity as a whole, have lost their values and principles.

I always placed honour on the highest pedestal in life – for me it has always been a source of power, merit, and kindness, and also the basis of humanity. This is what is valuable, what has been valuable from time immemorial!

I will do whatever it takes and overcome all obstacles so that I come to understand better, so that I experience more, so that I can tolerate loneliness, so I can confront the dangers, so that I become a model human being, so that I leave a legacy!

We are in desperate need of a world devoid of religious violence and racial violence.

Written by me Erfan Dana a refugee originally, from Afghanistan currently detained In one of an Indonesian detention centres.

Translated by Omid Tofighian

……………….
6th February 2018
(Art work by William Kentridge)

Have you seen a bird inside a locked cage?

Just imagine. The bird has no freedom, no calmness.

This is painful to behold. Do you know what is even more heartbreaking than this scene?

The life of the bird who becomes so accustomed to captivity that it begins to love the cage. Perhaps it has been kept inside the cage for too long. Or maybe the bird knows there is no place for it outside the cage.

The bird has neither wings to fly nor a place to stay in.

These days, I’m quite the same. I love the cage. It feels as if this cage is now part of my existence.

No sky is waiting for me to fly and no land wants to welcome me.

A forgotten person in the corner of the cage, who can only breathe.

 

  • A sad and tragic poem by Azad and me!
  • Translated by me Erfan Dana a refugee detained in one an Indonesian detention centres.
 ……………….

“Late report but necessary to read once”

It was 3am on the 1st of February 2018. As I wrote this report the sound of the cries from my cellmates rang in my ears.

The rain poured down and washed away my pain, the tears dropped from my eyes dripped onto my mobile keypad.

It has been fifteen consecutive days of protest in Balikpapan Prison camp, East Kalimantan, Indonesia now, we have been demanding freedom from incarceration and a safe and secure life. Now the refugees have decided to initiate their night-time protest.

The chronic pain of exile. Incarcerated for a period of four years. No real hope for ever achieving a peaceful life, no real hope in ever achieving a life without oppression; the refugees embarked on this journey purely because of their inner strength and stamina.

Minutes after they began their protest, after sounding their cries for freedom and their pleas for help, the head warden of the prison arrived together with a group of local police officers.

At this point everyone was calm and they raised their hands up in a show of submission. For some time the head warden of the prison camp hurled as much abuse and insults as he could muster up; he also threatened to press criminal charges and imprison the refugees in the local jails. This is what he told the refugees.

A few were so unbearably tired and felt so totally hopeless. They were completely shocked, their hearts had faltered and they felt they would never be free from this prison… they lost all control of themselves.

Two individuals collapsed for the first time ever and began to tremble. The refugees, who had no medical or first aid skills whatsoever, rushed over to keep the two of them stable lest they hurt themselves or anyone else.

The security guards watching the whole situation unfold not only did not help, they called the local police over and then closed the door and left the scene.

The situation continued like this for a period of time until more individuals began to suffer from heart pain and fainted from the shock. The whole thing was totally out of control. Everyone was screaming, and some were helping the fallen. Nineteen individuals in total had lost all hope and entered a state of shock. Among all this a small youth of fourteen years old also lost control, causing his older brother to enter a state of shock and panic for a short time. Actually, until a few months ago most of the people here were underage and had entered manhood while incarcerated.

The situation is now back under control. No one has any medical training, and there is no one else here to assist us. The immigration officers and IOM have left and gone to sleep in their comfortable beds. Total silence everywhere. Every now and then one of the people who collapsed would let out a yell and then weep. However, they have friends beside them to look after them; they hold down their arms and legs firmly so they do not hurt themselves or others.

It is unclear what will transpire tomorrow. I do not know the consequences of writing this report, I do not know if I will still be alive or not for exposing this. I do not know if I will be cuffed and taken to one of the local prisons, or if I will just remain here and continue to be a voice for the refugees and cry for help.

In any case, I have written this report for people to read and realise that we are still alive – do not let us be buried alive.

For more than a century we have been buried alive everyday and massacred. Tell me, is this civilisation and modernity, is this what you call support for human rights and the oppressed.

Just know that this situation is no different to the terrorist groups who make our lives a living hell and massacre us with bullets and blades.

When they kill us it happens once and our bodies are put to rest, but in here our very souls are dying everyday.

  • Erfan Dana in Indonesia
  • Translated by Omid Tofighian, American University in Cairo/University of Sydney

………………..

This is one of the good stories about my dedicated father I would like to share it with you all.

MY FATHER WAS A SHOEMAKER: Erfan Dana

Father is one of the most magnificent words and worthy gift for this beautiful nature.  Every human being must know the importance and value of the fathers.  I humbly would like to thank my faithful and kind-hearted father from the core of my heart. His important existence has been a part of my meaningful life and his educational advice an effective lesson for a brighter and successful future.  Thus my father, who was a busy shoemaker, has never let me down by feeling lonely or helpless, he has accompanied me in every challenge and the worst aspects of my life. 

My father spent his whole springtime working tirelessly in order to provide comforts, warmth, health service, and a house with the modern facilities for me and our family members.  He worked very tough days and nights in cold and hot weather to find money to  support our family financially and educationally.   He lived poorly and has given all his life to us by working and being father.   For his wife and children, in addition, he would see to our happiness and superior days.  Though I had the physical power to work and get money from somewhere my sympathetic father, who always cared a lot about me prevented me from working.   He only wanted me to learn and make my future better.  Several times I decided to start working somewhere in order to cooperate with my father economically to carry the burden together.   He got angry because of the decision I had taken and swore me to my mother not to waste my time uselessly.   He didn’t accept that I work anywhere.   

After some years passed, I grew up into a young boy under the kindness and love of my mother and family members.  When i was 15 years old I finished grade 8 successfully and got second position.  While I was heading home with a satisfactory outcome I was feeling cheerful to make my parents happy with the result.  When seeing my good marks my noblest father appreciated me as much as the rest of my family members did.  I was fully an eligible student for grade 9.  But most of the time I felt furious because I was not able to contribute with my father at his work.  Finally an idea clicked me to take an English course but i I was unsure whether my father would agree to allow me to go to the English Center or not because at that time mullahs were preventing people from going to go English Center.  With fears I told my father that I would like to take an English course.   He became very happy to hear this good decision. 

I started learning English, full of interest and enthusiasm.  In every class i was getting first or second position.  After one and a half years I successfully got my diploma and certificate of achievement and moved up one level higher to professional advanced.  When i was ending my professional advanced the director of our Academy suggested to me to start teaching basic classes here in the academy.  They had no more staff members in the academy.   After I passed my presentation I would hopefully succeed to be a regular teacher.  So I received a monthly salary about 2500 Afghani.  It was enough for me to buy my school stuff so I didn’t take any more money from my father.  Every month my father asked me, ‘why you didn’t ask any money from me’?  I replied him, ‘now I have a salary and have enough funds to pay for my school fee’.   He became very happy and hugged me tightly because I was able to stand on my feet.

Although I don’t have a job to work and get money to send for my family I want  to write about our panic history I have passed up in my early age.  If today I’m able to write, speak, act as human with different people, I owe this all to my parents and my family members.

Love my dear father.  My family is my support system and my source of inspirations.

Erfan

…………

MULTICULTURAL EDUCATION:  Writing by Erfan Dana

Multicultural education is a philosophical concept built on the ideals of freedom, justice , equality, and human dignity. We live in a vast world and interact with people from different backgrounds with completely different cultures, languages, customs and life principles.

The importance of multiculturalism lies in the idea that no culture is inherently superior to all others, and no culture is truly inferior to the rest.

Every human culture has the the potential to contribute positively to the human condition, and the benefits of a multicultural viewpoint give us all the humility to be able to accept, respect and understand one other better.

Differences are what bring color to this world, making it more beautiful and more enjoyable to live in. At the very heart of diversity and multiculturalism is the human need to bring people close together through embracing and not just tolerating their differences.

So get to know the next person sitting beside you. Share your stories, listen to theirs, and you will discover that this world is richly illuminated by many beautiful, colourful individuals.

Erfan, 2018

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.

 

IMRAN MOHAMMAD

FOUR YEARS IN A BUNK BED

 

 

Transcript:

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

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.

Kazem

Kaveh

Humanity

Nowadays, there is no foundation for the concept of humanity,

no understanding of humanity itself.

It’s name remains from the past, and this is the only sign for humanity – its name.

The only sign of humanity is its name.

I’m staggered by human beings – they are social creatures.

I’m staggered by the society that they have now formed.

Human beings and their societies stagger me.

I’m staggered by wickedness, by the wrong behaviour of humans.

Elders from the past were a guide for the demonstration of humanity.

They aspired to live well so to manifest the nature of humanity.

Wickedness and wrong behaviour now stagger me.

There is no longer any word for human or humanity.

The opposite only exists .

The description of humanity does not depend on any religion, race or ethnicity,

no, not the description of humanity.

You find humanity. It is not something to buy.

It’s achievable, it’s obtainable, it’s retainable.

I mean the name of humanity.

Turn on the luminous light of humanity now, today.

Don’t be silent, and useless. Don’t draw back from the name of humanity.

The name human and humanity are valuable – an alchemist’s gem.

Don’t make the noble and great name disgraceful and contemptible.

Do your best to serve people, love them, be kind with them, until you are present;

until you live again under the glorious and magnificent name of humanity

– Kaveh

Translation: Moones Mansoube with Ahmad A. and Janet Galbraith

Nightmare

To the creator of the July 19 2013 Policy.

It’s morning now and I see the outside

Manus sky is still above my head

My feet are weak and the ground is feeble

The sun is shining, hotter than yesterday

Again another repetition, again another day

Our surroundings are closed, all around a bunch of fences

We see the same faces, same people

their faces have been empty of laugher for so long.

Although the world is colourful, big and beautiful

Our world has been gloomy, tiny and dark for so long.

We are all similar. Our pains are similar.

If we are frightened and nervous, there will be no one to listen

To our agonies and stories.

If we are in an awful situation with too much misery

There will be no one found, to solve even one problem,

No-one who will be as balm and make us happy.

But I have a close friend, a companion

My cigarette, burning beside me, burning like me.

Sorry, I talked a lot without introducing myself:

We are a bunch of luckless victims of 19th of July who have been sacrificed.

But I don’t know why, what we had done.

On what basis we were chosen that we were separated from them, and moved.

We were brought from Christmas Island of Australia to here, I mean Manus Island, one of the

offshore detentions of Australia. It has been a long time that I’ve had this question

‘What made the difference between us and those coming on a same boat that day?”

You let them settle in the land and they’re livin to stay

After that law, after that year, after that month, after that day

This is the biggest injustice that I’ve ever seen in the world still

We’re in limbo here, living in the dream of going to the USA.

You’ve been keepin us for so long illegally

You’ve shown no respect, neither to law nor to the PNG court rule

With all your inhumane bad behaviour

We are still hostages hungering for freedom

You have violated human rights, why?

I was askin why, why several times

But they have been useless, my words, my questions –

Useless.

If I object, I protest in PNG, they will reply that ‘you’re on Manus, country of PNG

You will face the law of PNG’.

But who’s listenin to these words?

Hey mate, take it from me I know you’re busy, busy with politics, interests and war

But have a bit of heart at least

How can you place your head on the pillow at night

with peace of mind?

Refugees on Manus, on Nauru, each of them

Has become sick and depressed, got shattered internally

In order for you to achieve your goals and interests easily.

Open your eyes wake up! this is a reality. After all the damages we just need support.

If bringing us to the offshore was to close the ocean routes and stop the boats –

It has been so long that no boats have arrived. Stand up! Time is up, why are you killing time?

Make a decision based on logic and sanity. Don’t let us become more pissed off.

We are teetering on the edge of insanity

Either you give us a hand and help us, let us free, we are human,

Or shoot the final bullet and get rid of us.

I don’t wanna beg anymore.

I am looking for a deep sleep so as to get permanent relief

– Kaveh (Manus)

Translation Moones Mansoube

Hani Abdile

 

refugees_hannie_2

(image still Rodney Decker)

Hani Abdile is a poet who performs around Sydney and is the Sydney faciliatator of Writing Through Fences.  Her book I Will Rise is available through our SHOP here.

Hani was detained in Christmas Island for 19 months and is now in community.

I am

I used to think I am alone

and hold myself back.

Scared to express my feelings

and make my life a mess,

I sat silently

and agreed with my thoughts.

I forgot I had a chance.

They pushed me back

and broke my heart.

I stood for nothing

but a waste of number.

They held me down

but I got up.

I am ready to brush off the dust.

Here I am.

You will hear my voice,

that is my sound.

Now I am flying like a bird.

You can see me

diving up so high.

I fight for my rights

and go from zero to hero.

They locked me in

but I got out.

I am ready to brush off the dust.

Here I am a Somali girl.

I am not a waste of number.

I am not a victim.

I am a hero

and I am a leader.

– Hani Abdile 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oooh old friends

My beloved friend

 

Many days

We laughed

We chased each other

We tickled

 

But that wasn’t my favourite

 

We rolled in the mud

So thick, double to our skin

Danced in the rain

As we thought we could bless the land.

 

We re-owned our lost childhood

Your smiles fully healed my wounds

So shiny and sharp.

 

I was addicted to your company

I felt disgrace to leave you behind

But my friend you have chosen the traditional way.

 

Seeing your photos my perfect friend —

Life always takes unexpected turns

You dive into abuse and rise like a sun

Blessed to be a mother of two

My ship has sailed on unknown shores

While yours still floats on the garden of your birth.

  • Hani 2018

Creative piece

thanks to Carita for helping out.

Ramala’s tongue was tied to her throat. Her heart beat like a speeding train. Sweat ran like waterfalls within the creases of her body.  She stared at the path in front of her that looked like a tunnel. Unfamiliar darkness choked her.  This was the place her real parents called home. Parents. That word seemed so strange to her it caught in her mouth and evaporated like a drop of rain on a desert plain.

It was her summer break and Ramala had finally made her journey to her beloved home.  All her life from her luxurious bed in Miami she dreamed of a quiet village that smells like grounded cardamom and dry earth, filled with the laugher of children. The image wrapped her with a sense of safety, but it was not real.  She created it through Internet searchers and memories of others.

She called herself “take away” because 20 years ago Ramla was found by an NGO in an orphanage and adopted by an American couple at the age of three.  She had learned about her country’s traumatic history in a high school classroom, which ripped her from her middle-class life and forced her into this significant and life-changing journey.

Now at 23 she stood in front of the burning heat stared at the left over of her family. Small hut crumbled into the earth. Rotted defeated and abandoned. “Home was mouth of a shark”. The whole village had run away.

  • Hani Abdile 2017

 

 

 

Rahman

Rahman

Rahman is from Bangladesh and has been incarcerated on Manus Island detention prison for 3 years.  He has written his memoir of that time.

WHY NOT OUR LIFE

a_bright_moon_by_angelfire2016-d59sq7z

(image via angelfire@deviantart.com)

Yesterday I went to play soccer. After we finished we took some rest. The security officer told us: ‘Everyone go back to the compound’. I told him “I am waiting for the moon’. He said, ‘There is the moon, you can see, look up’. I saw the moon it was very big, looked beautiful. I looked and smiled at the moon and I asked the moon, ‘You light over the world so brightly. Why not our life? How long will we live in this darkness?’ The moon smiled at me and said, ‘Wait patiently please! I look around the world then I come to you’.

But still I don’t know how long it will take.

I feel restless.

  • Rahman (Manus Island August 2016)

image by scrapper9000

Nature Breaks

Sometimes nature breaks down into a hundred thousand pieces

when she sees our sorrow.

But no-one realises this.

When security gives us trouble we wait patiently and look at the sky,

for nature to gives us inspiration and sympathy for our lives.

Peace is hiding from us.

There is too much distance between peace and where we are.

 

  • Rahman (Manus Island 2016)

 

Of Youth

Youth is like summer flowers.

Suddenly it withers away.

 

  • Rahman (Manus Island 2016)

‘M’

A LONG AND DUSTY ROAD

 

Here is the work of a man who was incarcerated on Manus for 2 years.  He returned under pressure to his country of origin only to have to flee again.  We have kept in contact and he remains part of Writing Through Fences.  Here is some of his story.

3.2-The-long-and-dusty-road

image from hemantsoreng.com

Confusing life

I and a dusty road and a cloudy sky.

I and a long dusty road and a dark cloudy sky.

I and a dusty road, nobody knows where is it’s end.

I and a cloudy sky, nobody knows whether it will get rainy or not.

I and a dusty road, nobody knows how long it takes to get to the end of it.

I and a cloudy sky, nobody knows when it will be stormy or what will happen

to me and dusty road.

Maybe we will get green, maybe we will get puddle.

I and a dusty road, nobody knows whether I can get to the end of it or not.

Maybe we will become friends,

maybe we will finally part.

– M.

I am not a poet but these poems sometimes come to my mind and I can write them.  Not really my mind, they come from my heart.

Thinking about my destination… I came from other side of the world and I came through many countries to get to your country and I couldn’t.  They banished me to PNG, to that prison camp – worse than prison camp.  I went back to my country and had to run away again, to cross many countries again.  I climbed mountains, walked so far, was packed like sheep in a container for 12 hours, took taxi’s, walked so far, slept on streets in freezing rain, boats, camps, sleeping on the wet ground, sometimes in tents, much – too much walking, travelled on buses, walked so far, waited for long times stuck on bridges.

Some days we just had 2 pieces of bread.  I lost too much weight.

When I ran away I was not thinking where I would go. I just had to run away. Now. Run. During 3 years, since I first ran away, and then this second time, I crossed more than 15 countries.

Somedays, yes I get depressed because when I think about future, what will happen…  I am not young and I don’t have time for another journey – and I am a little bit tired now!

I know this country can accept me but do they want to or not?  They can, but will they?

Sometimes I think my life has been wasted.  On the other side I say to myself: Hey boy, you are trying to help yourself and many people don’t have the opportunity you have.

I have faced many kinds of people in my life.  Here, I find that people are kind.  They look at you with open face. Maybe they will accept me.  Maybe this big sky will make a storm again and I will have to stay friends with long dusty road.  Nobody knows if I can get to a destination or not.  I don’t know the answer.  I hope that someone will help me solve these problems, that they will accept me and I can stay here in a peaceful place and let go of that dusty road.

– M.

 

MESSAGE TO THE AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC

FROM RECENTLY ‘RETURNED’ ASYLUM SEEKER INCARCERATED ON MANUS ISLAND RPC aka ‘TORTURING CENTER’:

4th of September 2014

Seventy One per cent of australian people disagree with boat trip because their media told them they are not immigrants. Abbott said: ‘I want and I can stop the boat’ and those people became happy and gave him their votes.   After a few months, high court said offshore processing center is legal.

People of australia be aware during that time – I mean after 2013 July 19 till now 2014 September 5 – many innocent people on offshore processing center getting mental illnesses, a variety of funguses and other skin problems. Even in one conflict – which G4S and your immigration department organised before-hand – they killed one young asylum seeker, Reza Barati.  About two hundred people were injured – their damage serious, some people are missing parts of their bodies and some people dissappeared but and no one ever took responsibility about that.

NOW AN OTHER YOUNG ASYLUM SEEKER [ HAMID KHAZI ] IS DEAD BECAUSE OF INFECTION IN HIS BLOOD and it’s reason is lack of health on the torturing center that you and your high court gave vote to.  How many people must lose their life till you change your idea and allow them to come to Australia?

People of australia be knows and be aware that your government abuse those people and they don’t care whether those asylum seekers are alive or not. 

At least you australian people care about those innocent asylum seeker. THEY ARE HUMAN’ LIKE YOU.

WE ARE HUMAN LIKE YOU.  WE NEED FRESH AIR LIKE YOU. WE NEED BREATH LIKE YOU. WE NEED LIFE LIKE YOU. WE NEED FREEDOM LIKE YOU.

Arezo

11pm, 11th December 2015, OPC 3, Australia’s black site, Nauru

Take off your clothes.
I have nothing to hide
I carry only my identity card –
letters and number you have gifted
my hand, my psyche, the ever diminishing pulse
of my heart.
Open your legs
Do I exist only as cavities?
Take off your clothes.
Am I a criminal?
Take off your clothes.
I am a piece of meat.
Afraid, I am crying
I am shouting.
They laugh
They mock
Ridicule.
Take off your clothes
‘Violence against women is one of the great shames of Australia’.
Open your legs, your hands.
‘It is a national disgrace’.
A female guard steps forward
Forces open my legs, my hands.
Another guard pushes the wand between my legs, lingers there.
Take off your t-shirt and bra
Leering, they laugh
I lift.
Take off all your clothes.
I hold tight
A male guard closes the door.
My ID is in the woman’s hands.
I push through the men.
Push through the door.
Leave.
As I have been leaving for so long.

– Arezo and Janet Galbraith

Aziz

Aziz is a writer and human rights defender who has been detained on Manus Island for 31  months.

Aziz says:

I wrote this poem after the High Court ruled against us which is very disappointing for all of us.  The refugee activists were carrying out big protests around the cities of Australia which will make us to not lose hope although we have been languishing in detention centre for 31 months and now languish indefinately.

We are in huge conflict with our mental health because of ongoing torture and trauma including harassment from the staff.

I am requesting from all of my friends to keep hope. Let us break this silence of the coconut trees and the ocean. Let us back to our normal lives outside of the fences.

 

Who will cry for the young men

Who will cry for the young men

lost and all alone?

Who will cry for the young man

abandoned without his own?

Who will cry for the young men

tortured in detention?

Who will cry for the young man

who cries himself to sleep?

Who will cry for the young men

who never have their keeps?

Who will cry for the young men

who walk in burning sand?

Who will cry for the young men,

the boy inside the man,

who knows the world’s hurt and pain?

Who will cry for the young men,

who died and die again?

Who will cry for the young men?

Good men they are trying to be.

Who will cry for the young men?

I cry inside of me.

Who will cry for the young men?

I will.

We will together.

 

Aziz (written after the High Court decision on the 3rd of February 2015)

 

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photo by Anne Galbraith

FROM WEST DARFUR TO MANUS ISLAND

Sudan – West Darfur

My name is A.  I am from Sudan. Especially from West Darfur, place called Eftina.

I’m from minority Islam group in Darfur called Zaghawa. We are the only Islam group that the government targeted us.  They persecute us in all corners of Sudan.

It comes a time when the Janjawed (Janjaweed are the militant groups supported by the government)  their aim is to erase all the other blood african islam groups living in that region and their aim is to kill and to rape and to steal all the livestock and land and to chase us away from where they are.  We have been having – me and my family – we have been one of the people who fall in those problems first time.

I have lost my elder brother, his name is Mosef. He was the elder around 26-27. He has been killed by Janjaweed militant.

Fleeing : Struggle day and night

The rest of us fled Sudan and we went to Chad which is close and is a border between Sudan.  We went there and sought asylum from Chad. They sent us to a refugee compound called ‘Farshanah’ which is about approximately 2-300 kms from where we are from.

We spend there about 5 or 6 years in that place. A very very horrible time in my life.

The place is not safe and there is a shortage of everything: shelter, food, security and stability inside the compound. And as you know the place has been run by the two main organisations WFP and Red Cross.  Also we have a UNHCR.  They duty of the WFP is to provide food and shelter for us.  Red Cross, health.  And we have a French organisation called Drs Without Borders.

I spent 5 years in that place which is like spending 50 years of my life in that place.

I used to struggle day and night, just to do two things. One – to feed my family. Two – to keep my family and myself safe.

During that time every single day an abduction would take place around the compound. And that abdication is from the Sudanese police that they flew in from Sudan to Chad.  And they used to come around that compound just to abduct the young men like me and recruit them forcibly to work with them.

You have only one choice. Either you accept to be recruited forcibly, or you will be hiding, or you will flee the place where you are.

All the men that I know, they recruit them forcibly and if you refuse they will kill you.  They will take you far away from your family and they will kill you and nobody will know where you are. If they don’t kill you they will use you as a slave to work for them to do something which is really like unacceptable job such as they kill people and then they force you to dig the ground to bury those people.

They go and they steal the goods of some people and they force you to carry those goods in your head and walk around.  They go and take away all the livelihood – livestock of people and then they force you to look after the livestock.  You have no right to complain and if you refuse your prize is one bullet in your head and you are gone.

Everywhere gunshot: Family pray for safety

After all those years I used to go outside to the markets and I know what when I leave the compound I know that sometime I will not come back to see my family again because there is a real lack of security in that place.   Every corner of the market you can hear a gunshot. Everywhere you go you can hear gunshots. So it makes you feel that if you leave the place I will never come back to my family again. So that is what I used to do every day before I leave the place to go to market to find food to feed my family I would tell them to please pray for me to come back and they always praying for me. So I go there. I walked for 12 hours sometimes 14 hours just to get food for our daily meals – lunch and dinner. I could not afford to pay for breakfast for my family. This is the way I kept my family for 5 years in that place.  Until today when I decided to leave that place.

Leaving

I had been planning to leave for many many years. Chadian government refused to give us any documents and refused to provide any security for us. They are always saying in the media that they are providing safety and security and stability for these people but all this was really a lie.

They say look we can help you to go to Indonesia but we don’t know what will happen to you.  I said ‘No problem I am happy to go to Indonesia’.  They made me fake passport, fake travel documents and they arrange everything for me. It was not even really clear. It was all fake.  And I came to Indonesia, to Jakarta.

Genocide in Darfur forces us to leave

As you know everyone knows what is happening in Darfur especially between 2001 and 2013.  There was a massive genocide in 2005 which leave up to 25000 – 26000 Sudanese from Islamist groups lost their lives. This is the only reason that forced all the young people like me to flee their country, their homelands.  They went all the way to different countries and some lost their lives on their way to seek asylum from any part of the world.

Zhagawa

So the reason that this affect most of us aside from the genocide is that we Zhagawa have been marginalised and not accepted in the Sudanese community.  It doesn’t matter what sort of qualification you have or where you reach in terms of education at the end of the day they discriminate against you because you are from the West part of Sudan.

If you say you are from West part of Sudan – like if you say something like you’re abusing them or you say something funny. Everyone will start looking at you and laughing at you like you are a strange person like you are not a real Sudanese.  So there are a lot of things that are happening right through to today especially for the young people. And so if you are from West part of Sudan you have only one option. You must join the army or police and you go and kill your own people. If you refuse probably you will be killed. If you say yes – you have to go and do that.  Many many people took the risk.  The majority were killed and those left …  whenever they got the chance they escape.

Indonesia and relationship with Sudan

After I came to Indonesia – I spent 3 months in Indonesia.  I came to Indonesia on 14th of July. That is the date we arrived 14 of July 2013. I spent 3 months in Indonesia and I tried 3 times to cross the ocean because I have no chance and my desire was to stay in Indonesia but unfortunately Sudan government and Indonesia have very very close relationship which leads to the Indonesian government to authorise the Sudan government to send their own intelligence to monitor the young Sudanese who have left the country and are seeking asylum from Indonesia and around the world.

In Indonesia for us, the Sudanese, we are not allowed to walk around like other nationalities. We used to be hidden in places like Bogor so we hide in a villa.  During all the day we cannot leave the rooms until night time when we buy things we need like our mess [food] and it is really terrible times that I seen in my life. When I was in Darfur I saw so much and took a lot of risk and go through terrible times but in Indonesia is the only time I got scared because you are not going to die. If you are scared that you are going to die it is good but you are not going to die.

Fighting with the waves #1

Chance that I have.  I said look I have to try.  Even though it might cost me my life I have to try because I have no other chance. So I have to fight with the waves. If I made it good, and if I lost my life in the sea I will be food for the fish instead of just taking me back again to Sudan and torturing me in Sudan and doing a lot of shitty stuff on me in Sudan.  So the first time I took the risk we spend more than 48 hours in the boat.

You are not going to die there because of the torturing.  What made me afraid there in Indonesia was the torturing. You know we have one of the worst torturing of our intelligence in Sudan. When they capture you they torture you and they do a lot of shitty stuff that will always drive you crazy completely.  Even though you didn’t do anything you have to admit that you did just to stop the torture.  The first time I tried to cross the ocean – because I’ve got no chance. I have not chance either to go back or to stay in Indonesia. I have only one chance.  More than 48 hours in the boat.

So we moved from Indonesia. I can’t remember where in Indonesia we moved from. At night time the smugglers came to us at midnight and said: ‘Hey guys get up and pack your stuff’ and he said ‘you guys are not allowed even to take any stuff just only the clothes you wearing and put on your shoes and get in the car’. So we did what he told us. We came to a place even I can’t remember the name…. it was midnight.  I can’t see anything. Just I see some Indonesian men started helping us. They put us in a small boat.  I asked why that small boat and they said ‘Look there’s another big boat or ship down there so you have to get on this small boat and it will take you all the way to the ship’.

As I haven’t seen the ship I said ok. So I agreed to go. After we got in that boat they took us to another bigger boat – a fishing boat and it was bigger. We jump on that boat.  It was night time so no one realise the boat was broken from everywhere. So we just say ok. We asked the guy are you sure that this is going to take us.  And they guy said ‘yes its going to take you there so don’t be afraid’.  We start from there about 5am in the morning.

From there we just keep moving until – the only thing i remember from that day is I asked the crew: ‘So how far are we’.  He told us that ‘we are very close to the international sea – about 200 kms from Christmas Island.  Suddenly we realised that this boat cannot take us to Christmas Island. We were stuck in the middle of the oceans with no way behind us and nothing there. The only thing that I could see around me was just the sea everywhere.

We stopped the boat there and the crew talked to us and said ‘hey guys this boat cannot take us up to Christmas Island so what should we do? Can we go back to Indonesia  or we just keep going’.  So we had no options.  We say if this boat cannot take us to Christmas Island no way we can risk our life. We already risked our life.  So we have to look for an alternative solution. The alternative solution that we were looking at is that we all agreed that we have to go back to Indonesia.

From there we were coming back to Indonesia, suddenly the boat – the middle of the boat – you know one piece of wood is just came out and suddenly we realised there was a big hole so all the salty water started coming up on the boat. We just by ourself. We had nothing there. We were just by ourself so we took off all our tshirts and we put them in that hole to stop the water and from there we drove to the Indonesian coast. So it took us about a day or a day and a half.

46 of us straight into the water

We went to one island, i don’t know the name of the island, but it was really like the island was between two mountains on each side. We arrived there about 3 o’clock and we could see the light, the light of the houses of Indonesia and suddenly we came very close to the shore and the wave came and hit the boat and the boat turned over on one side and everyone went straight to the water.  At that time only we were 56 guys and 46 of us went straight into the water and only 10 or 15 guys they just went on.

They were trying to take out all the guys who fell into the water but there was no way we could help them so what we did was trying to help ourself to get out of that place.  At the same time at that place – we were 56 and we just lost 6 of our friends.  They just gone. We have’t even see their dead body.

I was the only guy there and remained there for 10 or 15 hours because I have no place to go and nobody know and I don’t know anyone or have any phone number to call. Most of them got out of the water and they just ran into the jungle and I just remained there.

Half of my day was with no money to buy food, no water, nothing.  Suddenly some of the villagers they called the police and the police came and when the police came – you know its good that they speak English because I do speak English and I started speaking to them.

Return to Indonesia: no guarantee of safety

They asked a lot of questions.  The first thing they say is they have to take me to the police station.  They took me to the police station. After that they started interrogating with me.  They asked me how many people were in the boat. All i could remember was only 58 people.

After the interrogations.  I spent 3 hours with the police in the police station there.  And after that they made contact to an IOM office in Jakarta and from there they put me in a mini-bus and sent me to Jakarta. So when I arrived in Jakarta and I had been welcomed by IOM officers there and they provided me with a few things: like shelter and they asked me if I am able to speak English they want to do an interview with me.

On the second day I told them that ‘Look, guys I ended up in here and I don’t know anyone or anything about this place. And they asked me why I didn’t want to stay in Indonesia and I explained to them all the reasons and they said well we cannot guarantee you that you can stay safely here in Indonesia.

So when I heard that from them I said ‘what do you mean you can’t guarantee to me?’ and finally he just clarified that ‘Look , your government has got a strong connection with the Indonesian government so anytime anywhere they can just come and take people from here and send them back.

So I was panicked when I heard that from them and I – so from there I was thinking what should I do to get out of that place.  So finally I find a way to get out of that place.  All my story – I have tried 3 times just to cross the ocean.  And I know the risk of the ocean , I know all about it but I haven’t got any option.  So the only option I have got is that I have to fight with the wave that is in front of me.

My last journey to Christmas Island

On my last journey, on the way to Christmas Island we have seen a boat that carrying about 100 or less than 100 people – women, kids and adult people and families in that boat.  And the boat sunk infront of us.

It had been maybe 2 days or 3 days ahead and when we just came close to that boat I think the crew he just saw all the people dying and all the people dead and they just floating up on the water. The water just lift them up and they were everywhere and the crew saw that and he doesn’t want everyone to see that action.

If all people we saw that dead bodies we probably be shocked and also we make the same accident like them and the crew decided to trick us and he say : ‘Guys, I really heard something that the Indonesian navy they were somewhere near here so I want you, all of you guys to lay down and put the tarpaulin cover your heads and keep your head down.

When he say something like that – you know I realised we were really far away from Indonesia so how come the Indonesia navy will come all the way up to here. So, I cover my head and just I bend my head down and at the same time I was just staring outside and suddenly I saw … you know,  I heard some noise on the boat.  The boat was  moving on top of the dead bodies you know – and something was really really really  – again I don’t know even how to describe it but it touched my heart and I start crying.  I’m just seeing myself, my eyes are tearing and I don’t know even what to do and people were asking me ‘Whats wrong with you?’ and I say ‘Oh I just remember some of my friends that I lost on my first journey’.

PNG – Manus Island – Australia’s prison camp

When I saw that incident it took me far back to where I start my life in Darfur. It remind me of every corner of Darfur and every village that burn in Darfur. It remind me of many many incidents that took place in Darfur.   You know I still remember that incident – it is still in my mind.  And sometimes I used to have a nightmare due to that incident. So I don’t know what to say but it is really really hard for me to explain to people you know.  You know it is really hard to explain to somebody because if I explain it or I say it  to somebody, if I say – it doesn’t make sense but I still feel it.

You know, at night time I can see those people that I have seen them dead in Darfur and I’ve seen the people that are dead in the oceans. So with all that history I’ve just – I don’t know what to say but I have ended up in PNG here.  After even I came in here in PNG I’ve realised that they are still persecuting me and I make a comparison between PNG and my country that I fled from – you know there’s not really a big distinguish because the same things – lack of security and stability its here in PNG here and you know in my country we have the same problems – corruptions and you know unjust government that kill their own people, forcing their own people just to escape their country.

So after that all, I never imagine that one day I will leave this compound and I will go somewhere else.

Suddenly I realised I was locked up in the [Lorengau] jail with several other people and I started asking myself : I never been in a jail before and I asked my self,  ‘What did I commmited that deserve this kind of punishment’.  And you know so many questions that circling around in my mind but you know I can’t find any person that can answer those questions that I have with me.

So after I spend all my time in the prisons and I come out of prisons I just realise that I’ve got a view and I haven’t had a view before but I’ve just realised that I’ve got a view.

Oh my god.  Somethings is really indescribable.

A. 2016