Asif Rahimi

I am Mohammad Asif Rahimi, I am 28 years old from Afghanistan. I belong to the Hazara community, the third largest ethnicity and most oppressed ethnicity in the world. I graduated from High School and studied Political Science in Kabul city. I speak four languages. Due to security concerns and persecution I had to leave Afghanistan and seek asylum in Indonesia through UNHCR. I am currently living in Balikpapan Detention Centre. I have been in detention and deprived of all my basic rights since late 2014.

Rahimi’s work is published by Writing Through Fences and is to be published in the forthcoming Overland.

Photographer: Azad, Indonesia, 2018
An Explanation

Life is full of adventures, either good and bad. People are inevitably faced with both. But what is important are the mechanisms of emotion felt during or after the incidents. Everyone individually chooses a route based on their assumptions and knowledge.

Typically when people are  about to be hurt, they seek coverture to unleash what is annoying. Every pain/harm needs its own mechanism. A variety of pains need a variety of mechanisms so to be unleashed. People choose different routes.

Let me dedicate this to the pains of affliction and fatigue. When a man is  hurt it can be too hard to unleash it at all. Arrogance stops him revealing what is inside him. But there are still ways to empty his mind. Someone may choose trusted friends and tell their feelings to them, someones else chooses their mother, some drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, someone finds a place and shouts, and someone else  finds a place in which to be silent and so on… But there are some things that harm people and yet no mechanisms are available for release due to particular conditions in which they are placed.

When you can not find any of these mechanisms for release the pain turns to an immedicable pain. You find bodies around you not souls, you find walls surrounding you that get closer and closer, you find yourself amongst monsters that every moment bring more damage to you. In this circumstance you swallow all the pain to hide it lest the monsters find out and misuse it as a weakness. By doing this you just relocate the battlefield into the inside of you.

This battle is more devastating than what you were facing before. It eats you like leprosy and burns you like charcoal, your soul, conscience, goodness, good will are now all burning and you can not do anything to extinguish the fire. You are being gradually burnt.

Dead Dreams

Let me be a bit rude. Let me talk about something that many of you would consider nonsense and probably you would call the person with such feelings ‘lacking in ambitions’ or expendable. Have you ever thought about dreams, wishes and how much variance there could be.  Or thought that every human being has his/her/their exclusive wishes and dreams, though surroundings make them wish differently?

When I see people from different places I figure out that most of the people from conflict zones have no dreams. They think about their basic and undeniable right: ‘living’. Their basic right which no one has the right to take it, has turned to dream. They are in the same situation with those who want to solve the mysterious galaxies. Some can catch, some fail.

Let me bring some examples to you so you see the variety of dreams in different places;

Wishes in the West: Aus, NZ, US, CA, UK…’developed’ countries: scientists, astronauts, luxuries, higher education, great economy, freedom…

Wishes in war-torn countries: food, mum, dad, siblings, school, play toys, new clothes and most importantly peace and water.

When you ask most of the people from war torn countries what his/her/their wishes are, you’ll most likely hear one basic thing:  surviving his/her/their families lest they starve to death. If you ask from the children in these countries, your answer is already given if you listen.

– Asif Rahimi 2018 (Balikpapan Detention, Indonesia)

Erfan Dana

My name is Erfan, I’m 21 years of age now. I’m a Hazara refugee 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 was only 18 years of age. Since then I have been incarcerated and in a state of constant uncertainty in one of Indonesia’s detention centres. After many years of imprisonment, I still don’t know how much longer my fellow inmates and I have to stay in this prison camp before our freedom comes. Writing and fighting for everyone’s freedom is my passion.

Dana’s work has been published by Charles Town Maroon International Conference Magazine, June 2018, Writing Through Fences, and in various news outlets.

Photographer: Azad, Indonesia, 2018

Unremitting, incurable pain

For some pain we can’t do anything to heal it
For some pain we can’t cry.
We can’t shout too loudly.
We can’t express our pain to anyone.
We can’t find a cure for it.
We can only feel the heaviness of it and, in silence,
break down into pieces and burn for it slowly, so slowly…

We will be free

Our stolen time and freedom will be given to us again.
Our exhausted minds and hearts will be restored.
We will start re-building our shattered lives in freedom.
We will re-start living in the heart of beautiful, calm and clean nature
without being surrounded with black, despicable high fences
and closed metallic doors and sharp-barbed wires.
My heartfelt clear message to the rest of my brothers
still detained in the corner of dark detention  centres in Indonesia and across the world.
We will start flying in blue skies like free birds
I promise
We will outlive again.

(Balikpapan Detention, Indonesia)


On Freedom

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I did not leave my bitterness and hatred behind I would still be in prison” – Nelson Mandela.

This is one of my favourite quotes. From the first time I read it I resolved to bury forever my own hatred and bitterness about the dark days I have experienced in this prison. I understood that if I didn’t reject the pull of resentment, I’d never recover from the immense psychological damage I have suffered here. I promised myself not to dwell on the ways some of the people who were entrusted with our care here mistreated us.

Those in charge were the employees of a cruel system designed to kill the human spirit and destroy hope. They humiliated us in the worst ways possible. They killed our hopes of finding a safe shelter, confining us in disgraceful conditions that lacked even basic amenities, let alone educational and recreational facilities. We felt this was done to punish us for seeking safety and peace in their land. We refugees feared for our existence.

I will need enormous strength and tolerance to forget the people who kept me captive for years when I had committed no crime, but had come here only to live in peace. It would be easy to feel resentful that the years of my youth were ruined by being held in detention against my will, my quest for freedom ignored and ridiculed, my values as a human disrespected. I know that recovery may be a slow process, but I am determined to set aside everything which could negatively impact on my future life.

Today as I walk toward the big, tall metal door which has confined my life for years, I will leave my anger, bitterness, sad memories and hatred behind. I will bury them here. I will go and start a new chapter of my life.

Let me confess one important thing. Without the love and immense support of my family members around the globe, and especially without the love and constant support of refugee advocates, I could not have survived here. You all supported me and loved me and encouraged me when I needed it. And I will love you all forever.

4 July 2018
My sixth day of freedom. It’s still hard to believe that I am here, living in an open and clean environment, breathing the sweet fresh air of freedom.

I no longer wake to the predictable, dreary misery of the detention centre where I spent years of my life. There are no intimidating high fences around me, no more massive locked doors to confine me to my room. No Immigration security guards chase me when I walk in the street, freely, like an ordinary person. It feels wonderful to be able to step outside and go for a morning beach walk. I relish my freedom to walk uninterrupted down a broad street bordered on both sides by tall, beautiful green trees.

From the first day I arrived here, I’ve been overwhelmed by an unfamiliar feeling of happiness. The accommodation – an apartment on the top floor of a four-storey building – is very good. I have a comfortable bed and a quiet room. I’m sure I will live here happily for the time being.

However, I’ve decided it’s important to build up excellent, positive relationships with the Indonesian people living in the area. Although I can’t work, I intend to participate in community volunteering services, like environmental clean-up. I’m looking forward to learning more about Indonesian culture. I will respect the local people and treat them with friendliness, and I am 100% sure that my brothers in this community will do the same.

We are all determined to do everything possible to show the people here what refugees are really like, to counteract the distorted stories the guards and prison camp officers told the locals about us, stories designed to present us as a threat. By our words and actions, those of us who are free now will work to establish good relationships with people here so that they will see who we really are. Then they will understand our situation, and our need to live here in safety, with dignity and value.

To my brothers in prison camps, know that I can’t be spiritually happy and free until you are all free and safe.


Kazem is a Kurdish musician and poet. He has been held hostage in Australia’s black site on Manus Island for 4 years where he continues to compose and write.
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 an opening to this prisoner,
Give him a smile as a gift,
To 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.

(mid August 2017)

– translation from Farsi to English Moones Mansoube (primary)

and Janet Galbraith

Tan Nguyen

unnamedMy name is Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen. Writing found me at a time I needed it most. It has helped me to heal and has shown me a world I didn’t know existed.

Through poetry, I’ve learnt different ways of expressing myself. Discovering, knowing, understanding the person I am.

I can’t imagine my life without poetry. My desire is to share a little part of myself with the world in hopes of spreading the importance of poetry in our lives.

Wandering Endlessly

As stars shines brightest
Against backdrops of night
Moon leaves nothing hidden
Revealing its full potentials
Beautiful, whole; in silence

Wandering while awake
Wandering while asleep
In my dreams I’ve searched
In my reality I seeked
Endlessly finding answers
Upon questions unknown

Sunshines down
Lighting my way
Determined to supply
Lending a helping hand
Making sure; I don’t trip and fall

Moonlight arrives
Retiring lights of day
Taking over for awhile
Letting sunshine slumber
Resting after a long day

Endlessly in my pursuit
Wandering from reality to dreams
Hopefully realising my purpose
Knowingly; only in guesses
Uncertainties still fills my mind
Perhaps fear and doubt
Prevents any further progress

Across fields of nightmares
Ocean without a bottom
Mountains high above clouds
Forests, deep within jungles
Unexplored by mankind

Drifting as wind blows
Flowing as rivers falls
Waking moments or dreams
Both being very similar
Difficult to identify differences
Telling them apart
Snowflakes slowly dances
Only to be melted into water
Sometimes even flames
Creatures and all

Behrouz Boochani

BehrouzBehrouz Boochani graduated from Tarbiat Madares University in Tehran with a Masters Degree in Political Geography and Geopolitics.  He hoped to complete a PhD however due to the political nature of his writing as well as the discrimination against, and genocidal practices of the Iranian regime toward the Kurdish people he was prevented from doing this. Mr Boochani began working as a journalist both  freelance and for various newspapers in Iran. His passion is the revival of Kurdish language and culture, a culture suffering under the practices of genocide for centuries. For many years Boochani would secretly teach children and adults their mother language, a particular Kurdish dialect from the region of Ilam. Behrouz Boochani also founded, edited and wrote for the Kurdish language magazine, Werya. He has been incarcerated in Manus Island Detention camp for almost 28 months now.  During his time in the camp he has continued to write about the human rights abuses he and hundreds of other men experience daily. He passes much of this information to Australian and international journalists.  Bocchani also continues to write about the land of his belonging, Kurdistan, culture, politics and language.  His articles are published in Kurdish newspapers and online journals. PEN International is calling for his request for asylum in Australia to be determined urgently.


Becoming MEG45

The airport was entirely empty and quiet. There was only a propeller aircraft that was supposed to take us to a far-flung island. I became restless again. I wanted those officers to get on the plane quickly and take us on board so that then the airplane would fly.

I love flying.

The atmosphere was too heavy for me, particularly with the presence of those vultures standing right beside the plane and toying with their cameras. With their crammed back packs, the officers boarded the plane. They were like soldiers ready to be sent into a battlefield. Some of the officers were shaking hands with the reporters. I felt that they were partners in crime.

F was the first person to board the plane. He needed to walk approximately fifty meters between the bus and the plane’s stairs. The officers had parked the bus far from the plane on purpose in order to make us feel deeply humiliated. Two muscular officers put their hands under F’s shoulder and took him to the plane in an extremely degrading manner. Although F was a tall person, he was like a fawn,  a prey for two wild lions: the two officers who held him firmly dragged him towards the stairs. Those reporters too, focussed all their energies into taking the last photos of us, so as to not loose those pure moments.

I was confident that they enjoyed destroying our human dignity. It was clear that F stepped reluctantly, however, it did not make any difference since those two giants were taking him by the arm. They did not care about him. They took him like a piece of flesh to the plane at a steady speed. When they approached the stairs, two other men took F up the stairs. There was another person waiting for them at the top of the stairs who was filming everything. It was the scene of the day repeated every two minutes. The only difference was that one piece of flesh changed its place with another piece of flesh.

An image of F was flashing through my mind: I saw him sitting on the bow of the boat continually looking to the front and sometimes at his watch. I even recalled his repetitive questions: ‘How far is Australia?’  I remembered, too, that night, the last night, when he remained grimly silent as the hurricane hit the boat.  He was holding me with his two hands in a dreadful darkness. He was frightened. Now, all his agonies had ended here. In that scene, he looked more like a dangerous murderer who should be tied as he was moved by two muscular men. These events were all taking place in the land of Australia. They were taking place in the Australia that F had counted down the minutes until he arrived. He had survived such deep fear because of this ambition.

It was the Myanmarese’s turn. He seemed weaker than the others. He was short and skinny. After taking some steps, he was shaky on his feet and was about to fall down. The officers raised him up. He was more like a person who is being taken to the gallows. When I was in Iran, I had seen a similar scene. I wished the man would not reveal his weakness and confusion. He had been a brave person whose courage crumbled.  He was the one who had traversed the ocean. He should not have been scared of an absurd tumult and cruel cameras. He needed to try to summon his remaining courage and act in a stronger manner.  He took a couple of steps further, turned his head and looked at our bus. It seemed he had left someone or something behind. Or maybe, he could not find anything or anyone to lean on in those debilitating moments,  except us. Yes, he did not breathe a word during the half day we had been corralled and we had considered him as a stranger. We had not even offered a puff of the cigarette. We were the only people that he knew  in this short time. We had a shared grief. We were all in the same boat. He was about to be thrown in to a dark and unknown future; a future which was supposed to continue on an Island. During the rest of his journey to the plane’s stairs he was more like prey dragging along the ground. There was no determination in his feet.  He did not even take a single step. After a while, he was on board.

After some others, my number was called: MEG45. I got used to that number eventually. They regarded us only as numbers, no more than that, and I had to set my name aside for a long time. When I was called, my ears started moving. My name, which was a part of my identity was of no use, and all day long, sometimes, nobody even once called me Behrouz. I tried to attribute a  new meaning to the nonsense number with my imagination. For instance, Mr Meg. But there were many people like me: Meg. What could I do with that rubbish number! Throughout the whole of my life I had always hated figures and maths but now I was forced to carry this number. It weighed on my soul and I had no remedy but to bear its heaviness.  At last I tried to make the number relevant to an important historical event. Nothing came into my mind other than the end of the Second World War in 1945. However, whoever I was or whatever I think, the number was announced and MEG45 had to follow a route which F and others had taken before.



I confess that I was stressed out, a feeling that combined with anger and ended up as a lump, a piece of sorrow that pressed my throat. What crime did I commit that they wanted to take me by my arms on board? If they had shown me the way, I would have happily sprinted towards the plane and got on it. This situation reminded me of the desperate Myanmarese guy. I thought: I must not appear weak in front of all these eyes gazing at me. I’d had similar experiences in more dreadful circumstances. At least this time I had been eating food for a month; I had a bit of colour on my face and my body did not stink of ooze. However, what could I do with my clothes? A yellow t-shirt which was two times bigger than me reached down to my knees. Clack clack was heard, when I walked with the thongs. My appearance was like nobody. I had never seen anyone dressed up in that way. For example, the short sleeves reached down to my wrist. It was a terrible combination of colours: a yellow t-shirt, black shorts and bare feet which ended in a pair of thongs. By wearing those clothes I was degraded in practice, no matter who I was or what thoughts I had.

Put what I just mentioned aside. How on earth could I pass through in front of so many cameras? Particularly, those young and blonde girls who were extremely excited about taking photos, photos closer than close. I must not reveal my weakness. Finally I took a leap in the dark and got off the bus. Those two giants were waiting for me. All of a sudden, they locked their arms around mine and moved towards the plane. I held my head high and took long steps in order to finish the torturous scene as soon as I could.

I passed the interpreters firstly. They were dressed in green clothes and were standing watching us without any reason.  Maybe they wanted to come to Manus Island with us. They did not look like passengers. I glanced over at the interpreter who seemed not to intend leaving us. There were nothing in her face. Even her smile which had previously formed as a question in my mind in the first place, disappeared. I was unable to understand her; she was highly ambiguous. She seemed both careless and worried. Perhaps, what made her look even heavier was what I felt was a common agony in her black eyes. It was an agony that had caused me to get further and further away from my past and the land that I belong to. There was no doubt that she went through agony like me just because of being labelled as Kurd, being labelled a greedy creature in the Middle East, the one who has always been a fly in the ointment for governments; who is always talking about strange topics like freedom and democracy. Once, she had abandoned everything like me and come to Australia. No matter what means she used to get here, whether a decayed boat or a plane, by looking at her, I felt that I reminded her of a bygone pain. I felt I  reminded her of the days that she was considered an extra creature in the Middle East. I felt that this concept evoked  in her a feeling of hatred and sympathy towards me.

We approached the reporters. One of the blonde girls took some steps closer and while she was kneeling she took some artistic masterpiece photos of my ridiculous face. She was definitely able to create a wonderful scene.  She would show it to her editor and would be praised by him or her. In a shot from a bottom angle, my thin body was undoubtedly a masterpiece in those loose-fitting and slovenly clothes. I still held my head high and mounted the plane’s stairs with a sense of pride. But those steps were more like the steps of a person who was running away.

I finally got on board. I was directed to my seat and collapsed in a heap. There was no sign of my false pride anymore and I kept my head down. A degraded person, someone who had been humiliated and become worthless. Someone who felt all those people either sniggered in their minds or perhaps cried for him. Through looking at my unkempt appearance and seeing those two officers who pulled me like a dangerous criminal, people should hate coming to Australia. I was the one who ought to make them detest the idea of coming there. The piece of sorrow grew several times as much in my throat and was about to suffocate me. I took some deep breaths so that a part of it might find a way outside and make me breathe easier. After a while, the ex-jailer from Iran who was with us also came on board but no longer chattering and laughing like he had during that day. He sat next to me.

The number of officers on board was the same as us. Two officers sat down on two seats next to  the ex-jailor and I. They were watching us carefully in order to avoid us conducting any dangerous activities or misbehaviour.  After a while, the plane took off and climbed. We got far and farther away from Christmas island; the island we had almost died in the ocean to reach.

(translated from Farsi to English by Moones Mansoubi)

Letter for Reza Barati by name withheld : Manus Detention Camp

Hello dear Reza,

How are you?
Are you in a good place?
Everyone is here and they are saying ‘hi’ to you.
I’m sure you remember Mustafa! He is saying to you, “Let’s play cards!”
Ali is saying, “Do you remember you would always get 6-6 whenever we played backgammon?”
Hussain is saying, “Do you remember whenever we played soccer, you would always be the goal keeper because you were tall?”
Behrouz is saying, “My mother goes to your mother every day and they cry together”. Hassan is saying, ” Forgive me, when you departed, there was a bit of displeasure between us”.

Reza! Do you know anything about Hamid Khazaei?
Are you together?
Please say ‘hi’ to him and say to him that we miss him.

Reza! It was hard to believe you had departed, we can’t believe it now either.
We would never think that they would kill the strong stocky Reza Barati, unjustly under a stroke with their hand.  Reza, no court of law has been established for you yet!
Your murderers and their masters are walking freely and they are showing off, blocking the way your blood is beside.

Reza, I don’t know if you know what they have done to us in this year that you weren’t here. It’s been really hard. Reza, they shed the blood of those like you and Hamid Khazaei in the name of human rights and they did not even care.

Do you know what Scott Morrison said after your death? He said “the way to stop these deaths is to stop the boats”. It is shameful.

Reza, they are more ruthless that the dictators of our own countries. They kill people at once there, but here, they kill slowly and by torture. They killed Hamid ruthlessly as well. Maybe he’s told you himself or maybe his pride hasn’t let him tell you that, how they did treat him ruthlessly. He died slowly slowly in front of our eyes in less than a week.

Reza, this is end of the world, no one helps us. They completed their racist confrontation by killing you and Hamid to show how mean they are.

But you don’t know that great people amongst them in Australia honoured you after your death. We can remember in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and many other places. Thousands of people shed tears for you and they condemned their government and that is your actual court. You don’t know but thousands of kind people lit candles for you and sit in streets. They showed humanity has not died yet and the account of the Australian people is separate from their racist government. Today, we are hopeful in the aid of these people with their great souls to achieve our freedom.

You are closer to God there, so pray to God that we will be freed from this prison very soon. Reza, I know freedom was nothing more than a dream for you and Hamid, an unachievable dream that you did not achieve here but now you are completely free, so rest in peace!

Dear Reza, I don’t want to keep you busy for a long time, but you will be in our hearts and souls forever. If the tree of our freedom gives fruit, we will not forget the blood of you and Hamid by it.

We love you both!

 Translated by Ali Parsaei

Open letter from ‘L,’ a mother who is to be deported

What is our crime?

What have we done to be punished like this?

We know we came by ‘illegal way’ but then we didn’t have any choice. If I could have stayed in my country I would never have left my family.
I left my country for safety and thought I could make my family safe later.

I came by boat but my child did not. She was born in this country and every child deserves to be protected by the country she or he is born in.

I want to be able to go back but I cannot take my child to that terrible life.
Some people say to me that it is luck that has meant some people were able to stay on Christmas Island and we sent to Nauru. I don’t believe in luck. I just believe in justice.

We are human beings and we deserve a safe life like other human beings.

When I came to this country immigration sent me and others to Nauru. But now I am in this country because there is no medical care for people in Nauru. The Minister said that people who came after the 19th of July will never come to Australia but I am here and my baby was born here.

Why do we have to suffer like this?

Sometimes death is better than life.

I only live for this child here.

What do we have to pay for this painful life we live every day, not knowing what will happen to us and our children?

This country has made me more afraid even than the sea. Every minute I am scared. Believe me, I have never been scared like this even in the sea. If I only had a country to go back to I would have gone.

When they knocked on my door at Christmas Island at 5am and threw a garbage bag in and told me to pack I asked them, ‘Where are you taking me?’ No-one would answer me. Then when we were all put in the one room and searched and waiting until 6pm that day finally they said ‘You are going to Nauru’. I said: ‘Why are you taking me to Nauru? I am pregnant.’ No-one answered me. When they forced us in the bus to go to the airport we had to walk into the airport between 2 lines of security officers both sides of us. Did they think we would escape? Where would we run?

What was our crime?

It was a 9 hour flight to Nauru; most of us did not eat for 2 days. There were 2 of us (asylum seekers) and 1 security guard in each of the rows of 3 seats. I didn’t cry in the sea but I cried when they took me to Nauru.

When we reached there, you can’t imagine the heat. You can’t imagine the tents. I was sick all the time. I was dizzy all the time. Many people were sick. You can’t imagine the heat. You can’t imagine not having enough water. You can’t imagine that when you need a nappy or some food for your child or anything at all you have to ask an officer, you have to line up; it is so hot. We can’t do anything for ourselves. Not shower, not wash the babies clothes.

You can’t imagine.

I grew up in a Refugee Camp but I have never seen it like that one.

Now each night I am waiting for them to knock on my door and throw in the bag to pack.

I am so scared.

What is our crime?





‘L’ is a mother who is to be deported from Australia to Nauru with her Australian-born baby.
There are 25 babies born in Australia – and their siblings – (making up 44 children) who are to be deported to Nauru as determined by the recent passing of the Migration Bill by the Senate.

This Old Somali Mother by Hani Aden

Hani words tightHani Aden is a young Somali asylum seeker and writer who spent 11 months on Christmas Island. She lives in community detention in Sydney. She writes in English, her third language.

Photograph by Nicholas Olle




This Old Somali Mother

“This Somali mother she arrived in Australia 15 days after the policy changed  last year.  She came from the horn of Africa. She crossed all the way to find peace and a better life in Australia. She was on the ocean for eight days and through the journey she was sick  and got so many medical matters. She lived half of her life in Somalia where horror becomes people’s daily work. She just didn’t know where to go so she coped with it and survived. She used to work hard to find food for her family  living inside the war which is hard as women working inside violence.  She got more damaged in her head as people beat her during the civil war.  She lost many members  of her family and some became disabled  and still they needed assistance from her.  Some of her nieces and nephews turned out to be orphans too, as everyone knows in Somalia no one cares about young and old, many mothers become widows. The last years of  her life, it became too hard to live in Somalia with so many reasons like her safety as a woman, and many others horrible situations,  which when she explained, her eyes were full of tears.  At her age it’s hard to travel  but she didn’t have a choice except to  leave her husband, her own son and family to look for peace and to help the rest of her  family.

But the Australian government  didn’t care about her awful past and they put her in detention. She became so stressed and sometimes she collapsed. She became so desperate. She got so many medical matters. She had eye disease; also all her body was swollen. The IHMS GB told her it was because of stress and she asked them for a medical check-up and treatment. Their response was we are responsible for your sickness  and they said to her:

“We will send you to Nauru soon.”

She told them “I can’t live there.”

The reason was because she is sick and she is alone too but they didn’t show her any human heart  but only sent her away to off-shore detention where many people are still in captivity for years and years.

She made up her mind and decided to go back to horror. She spoke with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). They told her we can’t take you back  because Somalia is where we lost so many of our staff so we can’t send you back; it’s against the law. But the Department of Immigration thought it was a good idea to send her back to the horror.

They forgot that they published her private testimony on a public website.  Anytime she returns to Somalia her life will be in danger, 50/50, so  they told her to be ready. They would send her back but it took five months to send her home and on 12 of August they sent her to her home where she got more and more desperate and got a little bit of mental problems.

The Australian government  should help those who look for protection from them; those who don’t  have anywhere to go even if the policy has changed there is a lot of other human ways they can treat people. ”




رویای آزادی یا احساس حبس و بند

زمین زیر پای سم اسبان میلرزد.

چهار نعل میگریزند ..وحشی و افسار گسیخته

در یالهایشان میپیچد آرزوهایم….

هوا سرشار از بوی اسب و غم و کمی هم غبطه….

در افق نقطه های سیاه کوچکی رخ مینماید و زمینی که من بر آن ایستاده ام رفته رفته آرام میگیرد…

پنداری رویایی بود همه….

رویای آزادی…یا احساس حبس و بند



Of Freedom

Ground shakes beneath the hoofs of horses.
They gallop faster than the wind –
wild and free.
I see my dreams sparkling in their manes.
Oh the air is filled
with the smell of horses
sorrow and a tiny bit of envy.
Far away in the horizon
I can see a few little black spots
and the ground I am standing on
starts to still again.
It is all gone.
I was all a dream.
My dream of freedom.
The outburst of the feelings
these restriction have created
in me.

Abba (detained 15 months)

This was originally written in Farsi and translated to English. Translators name withheld.


Detainee R

Rivers of Water Run Down.

years and months… weeks and days…
hours…and minutes… seconds are passing
from me…But my pain has
caused my heart to be broken.
Rivers of water run down from my eyes.
The thick layer of pain covers
my whole body.

My heart is crying so bad all the time
because that pain is heavier
that my dreams … my hopes…aims…
and my feelings to just have patience.
Give me some attention to my troubles…
I am coming from very deep water.

Why are you dishonest with me?
I cannot be dishonest with my feelings.
I am waiting and waiting
for some rest from all of this.
My eyes have also grown dim
because of sorrow.
I am unable to think of my future.

I cannot see the way.
Please show me the way

and my future.

(detained in Nauru RPC 2 years)