23 MAR 18
Walid Zazai speaks from Manus

31 December 2017 As the clock ticked towards midnight, I felt both dread at another long year and hope for what seems unimaginable to me – freedom.

Hello everyone, my name is Walid Zazai. Thank you for asking me to speak again.

Much has changed since last year’s Palm Sunday Rally.

On 7 August 2017, Hamed Shamshiripour died on Manus.

On 21 September 2017, 24 Manus men left PNG for the US, thefirst to be resettled under what Donald Trump called a ‘dumb deal’.

On 29 September 2017, Rajeev became the sixth Manus Island refugee to die in the last four years. His death follows those of Reza Barati, Hamid Kehazaei, Kamil Hussain, Faysal Ishak, Ahmed & Hamed Shamshiripour.
November 2017 is a month I hope one day my memory will erase.

On 27 April 2016, PNG’s Supreme Court ruled detaining men in MIRPC is illegal & unconstitutional.

31 October was set by Australia as the final day of Manus RPC. The plan was force us to move to unfinished places with less security, less medical care & less community support.

1 November 2017, we were left alone with no services in Manus RPC. Australia tried to starve us out, but thanks to you caring people in Australia & PNG, food was smuggled to us as we resisted pressure to move.

The crueller Australia became, the more caring we were to Manus brothers, & the more people
outside cared about us.

But, eventually Australia won.
On 27 & 28 November 2017, we were bashed & dragged & and forcibly moved to Hillside, West
Haus or East Lorengau.

Same situation, new location.

Nothing changed, except the location. I don’t understand how the new accommodations are not illegal & unconstitutional.
By December, my mind started to be overcome with dread, & increased the closer we got to the
end of 2017. But time doesn’t stop. 2018 came.

Today.

On 25 March 2018, about 80 men out of the around 2000 have been settled in USA. Only 80.

Hundreds of men have been refouled. They either gave up waiting for freedom & safety, or
forcibly sent back to danger.
On 25 March 2018, I have been detained by Australia for 1695 days. One thousand, six
hundred & ninety-five days. During those 4 years, 7 months & 22 days, I lost my youth & I
became a man in Australian immigration detention. I still dread 2018.

I still have hope.

I hope that soon all the men, women & children who asked for asylum but were sent to Manus or Nauru will be settled in a place of peace & security.

I hope more people will go to the USA soon.
I hope that Turnbull will say ‘Yes’ to the amazing Jacinda Arden & let 150 men settle in New Zealand,
I hope that Australia will stop the cruel policies.
I hope Australia will live up to their international obligations for asylum seekers.

I hope that soon:

I hope that my feet will walk on the streets of a safe land where I can yell ‘I AM FREE’.
I hope to work & pay tax.
I hope to earn an income support my mum & my aunties & their children.
I hope one day soon I can study & widen my mind.
I hope I can eat at a restaurant with my friends, WITH YOU.
I hope to own & run a restaurant for you to visi tme.

I hope to love & marry.

I hope to play cricket in a league of free people.
I hope. I hope.

Finally, I thank you.

Thank you to our growing advocates & friends. Thank you to the people who act – who write to
their MP’s & talk to their friends about the injustice in this place. Thank you to the religious who
take the love for your neighbour seriously.

Thank you to the people who know the equality of humanity & act to make it happen. You have empowered us & given us a small voice.
Please keep speaking for us, yelling for us, screaming for us. Please continue putting peaceful
but loud democratic pressure on the people who hold our freedom in their hard hands.

Please tell them our wish & our prayer is simply either, “please Bring us to Australia, let us go to NZ or
grant us our freedom somewhere safe”.

Thank you. With love & blessings, from Manus.

 

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