It’s hot and humid. The air is sticky. The food is unstomachable. You’re facing daily humiliation from guards, being referred to as an “illegal”. The dorms are cramped and smelly. The toilets are filthy. The hard coral grounds are tearing at your feet and the white light blinding your eyes. You’re depressed. It’s already been three years, and there’s no end in sight.
This is a terrifying snapshot of what it’s like to live in detention on Manus Island, as described to me by Mahmud* (not real name).
There’s not too much I can say about Mahmud without putting him in danger.
I can say that he’s and Iranian man currently being held in detention on Manus Island. I can say that he’s gay, though not openly so. That he’s eloquently spoken, gentle and intelligent. That he’s interested in literature (“but it’s hard to find books here”). That he’s been on Manus Island for around three years, and that he faces execution upon return to Iran or release in Papua New Guinea.
"I used to write my book which is almost finished, but I am suffering from severe mental health depression." Photo source: iStock.
I can also say that he refers to News Corp as “Rupert’s propaganda machine” and that in his spare time (which, for as long as he’s been detained, is most of the time) he likes to write.