Imran, a refugee on Manus, has written this letter on behalf of the refugees and asylum-seekers on the island to coincide with Palm Sunday rallies across Australia.

Dearest Friends,

I would like to express my deepest appreciation to everyone joining the rally on Palm Sunday, and of course, to those who support us in myriad other ways. It is your solidarity, kindness, generosity and, most importantly, your humanity through which we (the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru) have found a tiny light of hope to survive in this isolation, which has been covered by darkness and despondence. The entire population of refugees around the world will be forever grateful to you all for standing up for justice and liberty, which is every human’s ultimate right on this planet.

It has been nearly five years of trauma, unbearable suffering and unspeakable hardships, but hundreds of lives are still caught in political games, and only God knows if they have any hope of finding relief from this relentless and undefinable long journey. What we have been made to endure and lose all these years is incomprehensible.

We are introduced to you in a way which produces animosity and fear in your mind, because the real picture of our lives is concealed. Take a moment to imagine the 700 000 Rohingya refugees who have just fled Arakan state in Myanmar, to preserve their lives from persecution and genocide, and are now stuck in overcrowded makeshift camps in Bangladesh. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian Syrians have been killed, sustained serious injuries or are displaced in the current political conflict. People are being killed for no rational reason in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan and Sri Lanka etc.

We come from places where streets are full of life, then, in a flash, there are only human skeletons, dust and fumes. We don’t get to make plans, we have to leave everything behind. We don’t know what is waiting in the distance for us. This is part of our life-and-death struggle.

Somehow, we overcame unimaginable obstacles and arrived safely on Australian soil with hope of a life free from constant fear. Unfortunately, the reverse has been true. Children are still in detention. Parents are longing for their children to go to school and to grow up like a normal child in safety, without the fear of losing them. Young, educated men with talent, knowledge and multiple skills have lost purpose in their lives. It is a sea of despair.

Five years of incarceration and in exile is more than enough. We have been put to the test again and again, so horribly, yet we have stood the test of time. We are named in various ways, however, the inevitable fact is that we are just human beings with a real heart which knows how to love others. We have lived without love for 1696 days in a hostile setting.

I hope and pray those in power will see this crisis from a human perspective, with passion and humanity. In the meantime, we would like to offer our love and prayers to you, for giving us your hands as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends. We will never forget your humanity and everything you have done for all these years.

Your love has shone a light of hope in our hearts, and we know that without it, we would not have managed to survive in this political game.

Please, let everyone go and be free so that everyone can contribute to this world.

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