The Manus Island recording project - sounds of life in detention

From Saturday Morning, 9:35 am on 5 October 2019
Jon Tjhia (top) and Michael Green

Jon Tjhia (top) and Michael Green Photo: supplied

Last year, six male asylum-seekers detained on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island by the Australian government made daily recordings about their lives for The Manus Recording Project Collective.

Australian radio-makers Michael Green and Jon Tjhia have turned the detainees' recordings into an audio exhibit called how are you today? for the art show Eavesdropping (which is currently on in Wellington).

Kim Hill asks Michael and Jon about the challenges of the project and how the men are doing now.

Eavesdropping runs at Wellington's City Gallery until 17 November.

Via The Manus Recording Project Collective:

ABDUL AZIZ MUHAMAT is a 25-year-old man from Darfur, Sudan. He is from the Zaghawa ethnicity, and with his family, he fled his village to a refugee camp. He arrived in Australia by boat in 2013 and was taken to Manus Island, where he remains. He has become one of the primary public voices among the men there, including through the multi-award winning podcast, The Messenger.

FARHAD BANDESH is a 36-year-old Kurdish musician, painter and poet who has been detained on Manus Island for over five years. Before seeking asylum, he worked as a guitar maker and has no formal art training. Whilst in detention, he has produced solo and collaborative works of music, art and writing. He loves nature and is a keen gardener; his sisters now look after his plants.

BEHROUZ BOOCHANI is a Kurdish-Iranian writer, journalist, scholar, cultural advocate and filmmaker. He was a writer for the Kurdish language magazine Werya. He writes regularly for The Guardian and several other publications. Boochani is also co-director (with Arash Kamali Sarvestani) of the 2017 feature-length film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, and author of No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison. He has been held on Manus Island since 2013.

KAZEM KAZEMI is a 36-year-old Kurdish musician, heavy metal and rock songwriter and poet. Before seeking asylum in Australia, he lived in Khorramshahr, Iran, and worked as an electrician.

SHAMINDAN KANAPATHI is a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee. In Sri Lanka, he was a marketing executive and a student.

SAMAD ABDUL has been detained in an Australian run offshore detention centre on Manus for the last five years. He loves cricket and his only dream was to be a professional cricketer but politicians have taken his dream and used him as a political prisoner. Although his five years will not come back, he now wants to be a social worker to help those who are in pain.