27 episodes

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.

The Messenger The Wheeler Centre

    • News
    • 4.9 • 103 Ratings

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.

    #13 A Stranger in Geneva

    #13 A Stranger in Geneva

    Aziz in the snow, in Switzerland — Photo: Michael Green

    'Hard to imagine. Start your life again. Have your own house, your own family.'– Abdul Aziz Muhamat

    Incredibly, Aziz is in Switzerland. And he’s just won a major international award for human rights defenders. 

    He’s swamped with attention and adoration, briefings and business cards. But he is only allowed to be in Geneva for three short weeks. Then he has to return to Manus Island – back to the dangerous situation he’s being celebrated for campaigning against.

    In this episode, we follow Aziz as he negotiates meetings with diplomats and speeches to the UN. He struggles with an unexpected, oppressive dilemma – should he board a plane back to his brothers on Manus, or seek yet another uncertain path to safety and freedom?Transcript

    A transcript of this episode is available here (PDF format).

    Further reading
    'Aziz: A Stranger in Geneva', produced by Michael Green for Earshot, ABC Radio National (first broadcast 28 September 2019)
    'Flight from Manus' by Michael Green, ABC Radio National, 1 October 2019

    In this episode


    Abdul Aziz Muhamat
    Michael Green
    Peggy Hicks
    Michael Khambatta

    Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin. Music used in this episode was produced by Hour House (Mark Leacy and Sam Kenna), except for 'I am the Changer', by Cotton Jones.

    More information

    The Messenger is a co-production of Behind the Wire and the Wheeler Centre. This episode was originally commissioned and produced for the ABC Radio National programme, Earshot. It was produced by Michael Green. The supervising producer was Lyn Gallacher. The sound engineer was Melissa May.

    Narration by Michael Green. Additional editing and mixing by Jon Tjhia.

    Thank you

    André Dao, Jon Tjhia, Hannah Reich, Bec Fary and Sophie Black. Also Camilla Chapman, Cecilia Cannon and Sean Cole, and Behind the Wire's many participants and volunteers.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 31 min
    #12 Flight from Manus

    #12 Flight from Manus

    Aziz, in a hotel room facing onto Genève-Cornavin railway station — Photo: Michael Green

    'I just feel like I left my soul back there, you know. Personally I'm here, but my heart is still in Manus.'– Abdul Aziz Muhamat

    Aziz is shortlisted for a major international prize, the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. The ceremony is in Geneva, Switzerland. Improbably, the prize’s organisers secretly arrange permission for him to leave Manus Island to attend the event. 

    In this episode, Aziz finally – temporarily – escapes Papua New Guinea, five and a half years after the Australian government took him there against his will. But he has no proper passport or visa, and no idea what to expect.  

    After years of exile and captivity, how will it feel to visit Switzerland – one of the richest countries in the world? And can Aziz make any difference for those who remain stuck on Manus Island and Nauru?Transcript

    A transcript of this episode is available here (PDF format).

    Further reading
    'Aziz: Flight from Manus' by Michael Green,Earshot, ABC Radio National, first broadcast 21 September 2019

    The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

    In this episode


    Abdul Aziz Muhamat
    Michael Green
    Michael Khambatta
    Hans Thoolen

    Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin. Music used in this episode is by Hour House (Mark Leacy and Sam Kenna).

    More information

    The Messenger is a co-production of Behind the Wire and the Wheeler Centre. This episode was originally commissioned and produced for the ABC Radio National programme, Earshot. It was produced by Michael Green. The supervising producer was Lyn Gallacher. The sound engineer was Melissa May.

    Narration by Michael Green. Additional editing and mixing by Jon Tjhia.

    Thank you

    André Dao, Jon Tjhia, Hannah Reich, Bec Fary and Sophie Black. Thanks also to Camilla Chapman, Cecilia Cannon and Sean Cole, and to Behind the Wire's many participants and volunteers. Michael Green's travel to Papua New Guinea was supported by a grant from the Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Fund.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 29 min
    #11 We Lived as a Nation

    #11 We Lived as a Nation

    The men demonstrate their improvised well — Photo: Michael Green

    ‘Twenty four days we lived as a nation … The only way I can describe [it] is that we were a nation.’– Abdul Aziz Muhamat

    The detention centre on Manus Island might be closed, but Aziz – and the vast majority of the men who were held there – remain on the island, living in three different centres.

    By early 2019, Aziz is well into his sixth year, waiting. In that time, he’s felt free for only a few weeks – those few weeks when the immigration detention system disintegrated around him.

    In this episode, The Messenger returns to late 2017, and the crucial period when Australia shut down the Manus Regional Processing Centre and the men refused to leave. We take you inside the centre as the standoff unfolds. There are no guards, no caseworkers, no immigration officials – and no food, water, medicine or electricity.

    Aziz and his friends are in charge. How did they survive? And why did they stay?Transcript

    A transcript of this episode is coming soon.

    Further reading

    • 'No Exit: The ongoing abuses of Australia’s refugee policy' by Michael Green, Harper's Magazine, July 2018

    In this episode


    Abdul Aziz Muhamat
    Michael Green
    Behrouz Boochani
    Benham Satah
    Poli Boas
    Clarence Parisau
    Michael Kuweh

    Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin. Music used in this episode includes 'Unrest' by Adrian Klumpes, 'La Mer' by Pivot, 'Southeast of Boston' by June of 44, 'Out with the Cold' by Kaffe Matthews, 'Rhodes Viola Multiple' by Keith Fullerton Whitman, '1.3'by Piano Magic, 'Passages' by Bowery Electric, 'Shine' by Klara Lewis and 'Iberia Eteria' by Biosphere.

    More information

    The Messenger is a co-production of Behind the Wire and the Wheeler Centre. It’s produced by Michael Green, André Dao, Hannah Reich and Bec Fary, with Jon Tjhia and Sophie Black at the Wheeler Centre.

    Narration by Michael Green. With reporting by Abdul Aziz Muhamat. Transcription by Claire McGregor, Carolyn Turner, Tiarne Cook, Julia Earley and many more​. This episode was edited and mixed by Michael Green and Jon Tjhia.

    Thank you

    Dana Affleck, Angelica Neville, Camilla Chapman and Sienna Merope. Also to Behind the Wire’s many participants and volunteers. Michael Green's travel to Papua New Guinea was supported by a grant from the Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Fund.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 39 min
    What I Can See Right Now

    What I Can See Right Now

    It's raining on Michael's last afternoon on Manus Island, and Aziz drops by to catch up. They discuss where things are at with Aziz and the other men, and what he expects will happen next. Then, it's time to say farewell.

    This episode will be the last of our short updates – but we'll return soon with another full episode, unpacking what Michael found when he visited Manus Island.

    'If I can predict, the only thing that's gonna happen is we will be just forgotten in this island.'Abdul Aziz Muhamat

    Abdul Aziz Muhamat in Lorengau, Manus Island — Photo: Michael GreenIn this update


    Abdul Aziz Muhamat


    Michael Green

    Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin. Music used in this episode includes 'Please Gamelan Again' by Colleen, and 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' by Tomoki Kanda.

    Further reading


    'Second cohort of Nauru and Manus refugees to be resettled in US', by Ben Doherty, Guardian Australia, accessed 16 December 2017
    'A Letter from Manus Island', by Behrouz Boochani, Saturday Paper, accessed 10 December 2017

    More information

    The Messenger is a co-production of Behind the Wire and the Wheeler Centre. It’s produced by Michael Green, André Dao, Hannah Reich and Bec Fary, with Jon Tjhia and Sophie Black at the Wheeler Centre.

    This short update was edited and mixed by Jon Tjhia.

    Thank you

    Dana Affleck, Angelica Neville and Sienna Merope. Also to Behind the Wire’s many participants and volunteers. Behind the Wire is supported by the Bertha Foundation.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 7 min
    I'm Not Really Settled Right Now

    I'm Not Really Settled Right Now

    ‘I’m safe and I’m alive.’Abdul Aziz Muhamat

    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.

    A mess remains after PNG immigration officials raid and ransack the camp — Photo: Manus AlertIn this update


    Abdul Aziz Muhamat


    Michael Green

    Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin. Music used in this episode includes 'Shine' by Klara Lewis. Additional audio recordings have been sourced from smartphone videos of the eviction and relocation.

    Further reading


    'Manus Island: PNG authorities say they have cleared detention centre, all men bused out', by Liam Fox and Louise Yaxley, ABC News, accessed 28 November 2017
    'Manus police pulled my hair and beat me. "You've damaged our reputation," they said', by Behrouz Boochani, Guardian Australia, accessed 28 November 2017
    'Forced Removal', Ten Eyewitness News, accessed 28 November 2017

    More information

    The Messenger is a co-production of Behind the Wire and the Wheeler Centre. It’s produced by Michael Green, André Dao, Hannah Reich and Bec Fary, with Jon Tjhia and Sophie Black at the Wheeler Centre.

    This short update was edited and mixed by Jon Tjhia.

    Thank you

    Dana Affleck, Angelica Neville and Sienna Merope. Also to Behind the Wire’s many participants and volunteers. Behind the Wire is supported by the Bertha Foundation.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 6 min
    We Are Looking After Each Other

    We 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 always want to get the attention of the people about the hardship,' he explains. 'We are just paying the price for our freedom.'



    'We are managing our lives. You know, it's been 21 days now, three weeks … it's become normal for us.'Abdul Aziz Muhamat

    Photo: Manus AlertIn this update


    Abdul Aziz Muhamat


    Michael Green

    Our theme music was composed by Raya Slavin.

    Further reading


    'The situation is critical’: cholera fears on Manus as water and medicine run out', by Ben Doherty, Guardian Australia, accessed 21 November 2017
    'Refugees Trapped Far from Home, Farther from Deliverance', by Damien Cave,New York Times, accessed 21 November 2017

    More information

    The Messenger is a co-production of Behind the Wire and the Wheeler Centre. It’s produced by Michael Green, André Dao, Hannah Reich and Bec Fary, with Jon Tjhia and Sophie Black at the Wheeler Centre.

    This short update was edited and mixed by Jon Tjhia.

    Thank you

    Dana Affleck, Angelica Neville and Sienna Merope. Also to Behind the Wire’s many participants and volunteers. Behind the Wire is supported by the Bertha Foundation.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 6 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
103 Ratings

103 Ratings

srtasoph ,

Beautifully raw and straight up

Such an important podcast I wish all Australians would listen to. It’s tough to listen to, knowing this is real and virtually happening as you listen.

Ssegrub2309 ,

Powerful stuff!

This story echoes many of the challenges refugees in Nauru faced when I worked there in 2015. I hope with all my heart that the men from Manus can one day come to Australia. They are truely deserving and would make Australia a much better place with their presence and with their stories. Australia still needs to mature a lot as a nation and I hope our government can one day admit that they are party to psychological torture and human rights violations.
To Aziz and the men from Manus and the refugees and asylum
Seekers on Nauru, I am sorry for how my government has treated you and I hope we can make it right one day.

The Bloomfield girl ,

Excellent

This is a beautiful (and painful) insight into Aziz's world. Please, everybody listen.
Some constructive critism though, its too long between actual events on Manus and the episode relating to it, maybe this is purposeful to try and give us a true sense of time moving so painfully slowly for those detained on Manus, but i feel that it is slowing the conversation that is sparked by listeners of this podcast I feel like maybe it is almost a disservice to Aziz and other detainees because his voice is not being heard nearer to 'real time'. It would have been great for example to hear his thoughts as we heard in the media about the death of his friend, about the american interviews, about the other recent events on Manus. It feels like we are missing a valuable voice in current events when we only hear it 6,7,8 months after the events happened. I understand that it is all volunteer hours to make the podcast and i am extremely grateful to able to hear this story at all, and appreciate the extraordinary amount of work that must go into producing something like this. I just hope that we can utilise Azizs willingness to share his pain and positivity to keep peoples attention on the human side of the story and i feel that in this modern world of the 24 hr news cycle and instant information gratiifcation that we will loose many people in the discussion if we dont try to be a little more up to date.
When i hear Azizs perspective on events it makes me want to agitate more, with friends, community and government, his story has so much power to transform peoples opinions, but often i feel like it might be too late to do anything meaningful by the time we hear his voice. It's all old news as far as the governments concerned by the time i have been inspired by the podcast to write letters - 6 months after the event. When Azizs voice is one of the only we hear from Manus i would just love it to have more power by making it current.
Australias treatment of detainees on Manus and Naru is sub human and makes me both ashamed to be Australian and also makes me want to act to prevent this treatment from happening. Thankyou so much for this podcast and bringing us a voice from this tragedy that i hope helps motivate Australians into action.

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