Meet Aziz, 23, Imprisoned on Manus Island

4 November 2016, 14:35 UTC | Papua New Guinea
© Matthew Abbott

My friends call me 'Mandela' because I stand up for what I believe in. Some of them also call me 'Teacher,' because I taught English in the camp. I speak seven languages - I taught myself Spanish in detention here.

I am crazy about geography and history. I always have been. When I was a child - 10 years old - I would stare at the world map in our house every day. Every day I would focus on one continent; count the number of countries, remember the capital cities. Memorising one corner of the world at a time.  

One night when I was 18, I had a dream that I had travelled to all of those places on the map that I had circled. But I hadn't. I had never even left my own country, until I was forced to because of a genocide against my people. They have killed 12,000 people in seven years.

Scott Morrison came to our camp after our friend Reza Barati was murdered on the island. I met with him with and two other refugees. We waited a long time. Then he walked in with a guard and some immigration officers.

He didn't sit down. He said "I'm Scott Morrison, the Immigration Minister. We have made an agreement with PNG to resettle you here. You will never ever come to Australia. You will be here for a long time."

I raised my hand. He said he would not take any questions. He turned his back and walked away.

"My friends call me 'Mandela' because I stand up for what I believe in. Some of them also call me 'Teacher,' because I taught English in the camp."

I had a girlfriend - she was my neighbour. We grew up together, and went to the same primary school and high school.  We had agreed we would get married. Deciding to leave her was the most painful decision of my life. She collapsed when I told her I was leaving and was taken to hospital.

After I left we would talk about one day we would be together again.

One day, she finally told me that her family wanted her to marry someone else. My heart broke. Now she's married and expecting a child.

I have lost so much here. I don't want to lose anymore.

My hope is that the suffering will end. I hope Australians understand we are humans, just like them. We want the same things, safety, shelter and freedom.

Take action: Call on Australia to close its offshore detention centres on Nauru, Manus and Christmas Island.

This story was first published by Get Up!

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