HomeThe Messenger

The Messenger

Imagine having a penpal, but you’re only allowed to write on Post-It notes, and they arrive in a totally mixed up order, and some of them are scribbled all over so you can hardly read them. Imagine trying to get to know someone in short snatches, sentences and paragraphs that you slowly piece together like a puzzle, over the course of days, weeks, a year …

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.

From March 2016, Aziz reported from Manus in short 30 second bursts, via WhatsApp messages sent from a smuggled phone. On the day his correspondence kicks off with Michael, he’s already been in detention for 864 days.
Aziz tells the inside story – the good and the bad – of a place that consistently features in the headlines. A place some consider a necessary product of a successful border control policy, for others, a stain on Australia’s reputation from which it will never recover. A place that despite dominating the news, remains largely unknown and unknowable by the public.
As the story unfolds, the centre is eventually closed – but the men refused to leave. A series of 13 updates deliver news from inside the detainees' blockade – then, from the other side of the crisis.
This story involves Australia and the small island nations of Manus and Nauru, but it’s also a global story. Right now, people are fleeing for their lives in many parts of the world.

The Messenger Project, a collaboration between Michael Green and Abdul Aziz and supported by ‘Behind the Wire’ and the Wheeler Centre, 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 Podcast