Refugee Voices

On this page you will find featured a variety of writings, art works, and notable achievements by refugees on Manus and Nauru. Please follow the external links for more information and consider supporting their work.

Behrouz Boochani

photo courtesy of Martin Hunter/EPA

Notable Works

No Friend But the Mountains (Novel)
Behrouz Boochani's asylum seeker drama 'No Friend But The Mountains' heads  to big screen (exclusive) | News | Screen

In 2013, Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani was illegally detained on Manus Island, a refugee detention centre off the coast of Australia.
He has been there ever since.
This book is the result. Laboriously tapped out on a mobile phone and translated from the Farsi.
It is a voice of witness, an act of survival. A lyric first-hand account. A cry of resistance. A vivid portrait of five years of incarceration and exile.
Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Literature, Australia’s richest literary prize, No Friend But the Mountains is an extraordinary account ― one that is disturbingly representative of the experience of the many stateless and imprisoned refugees and migrants around the world.

Read more here, here, or here

“Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time” (Film)

Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time

6:30pm 15 Jun | Chauka, Please Tell Us The Time | RAC film screening  fundraiser | | Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

“On the picturesque coast of Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, beyond the sandy beach and palm trees, almost a thousand people seeking asylum are kept behind wire fences by armed guards.
We’re used to hearing about Manus and allegations of the crimes committed inside. We’re less familiar with seeing them with our own eyes. Shot entirely on a mobile phone, new documentary Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time gives us a glimpse into the everyday injustice committed in the name of Australian border security. Rare, frustrating calls home. Cramped conditions. Abuse at the hands of guards. Lasting psychological damage. Self-harm. Poor medical supplies. Murder.” (Refugee Council of Australia)

Learn more about Behrouz and his work

Abdul Aziz Muhamat

photo courtesy of Human Rights Law Centre

Awards and Work

2019 Martin Ennals Award laureate

Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz Muhamat was named the 2019 Martin Ennals Award laureate in recognition of his documenting the conditions of incarceration on Manus Island– particularly his podcast “The Messenger,” made in collaboration with The Guardian. Happily, Mr. Muhamat achieved his freedom and was granted asylum in Switzerland while permitted to travel to Geneva to accept the award.

“The Messanger” (Podcast)

The Messenger is based on thousands of voice messages sent by Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a refugee detained on the Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, to Michael Green, a journalist based in Melbourne.”
Listen here

Learn more about Abdul and his work

Mohammad Ali Maleki

photo courtesy of Rochford Street Review

Selected Poems

The Strong Sunflower

Manus Island knew nothing of sunflowers
so I planted some seeds, from my heart, on Manus.
These seeds from a refugee, me,
grew into a flower for the Manus people
and the heat of the sun created new hope in their hearts …

Dry Land
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 22448502_10155830898857716_6832558593780339793_n-2.jpg

Behind my room I had a piece of land
that stayed forever in my mind –
not knowing how to use it,
I thought arid land was no good.

Then spring came
bringing new purpose
and I planted some tiny seeds.
A stem grew up and multiplied;
buds followed.
In that dry place I’d made a garden
where flowers blossomed and covered
the cracked earth.

I loved my little garden.
Smelling so sweetly, it attracted guests:
dragon flies, butterflies and a sparrow
all came dancing through
until I felt I was dreaming of a garden
that had come to life…

Then the sparrow left.
Months passed and the garden
grew depressed. I did too.

But the sparrow returned with more of its kind,
singing to my garden, making it happy.
That sparrow had found its mother,
just as I had found Mother Earth.

But I have forgotten to tell you
where this garden actually is.
It is far away, on Manus Island.
And you know well
what a menace Manus is.
And how during three years of incarceration
we have suffered here.
For what crime?

I hope you never see this place,
nor your child feel any pain,
even from the thorn of a beautiful flower;
that would make you so sad,
the pain of your precious child.

God knows we are just human
and that we have beloved families.
Are your children neatly dressed?
Are ours dirty?
No. We too are simply human,
like you.
For God’s sake realise this:
it is in God’s eyes
that we are all equal

Farhad Bandesh

photo courtesy of artist

Selected Songs

The Big Exhale

Learn more about the production of this song here


Learn about this unlikely collaboration here

Mostafa Azimitabar

photo courtesy of artist

Selected Songs

“All the Same”

Learn more about the production of this song here


Hear Moz speak on the conditions that inspired this song

Thanus Selvarasa