For the 117th man on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister

The 117th detainee on Manus Island is Mr Mohammad Ali Maleki. He is 39 years old, a refugee from Iran and is a tailor by profession. His poem, A Dream of Death, ends with the following lines:

Put yourself
in our families’ shoes for a second.
And put your children in our shoes for a moment too.
— Mohammad Ali Maleki

I have reproduced a translation of the poem in full below. Please read it. As Robert Manne said, your government's continuation of Howard' and Rudd's absolutist culture of control makes you, Minister Dutton and the bureaucrats of DIBP the 21st century's example of the banality of evil. Listen to all of us, refugees and Australians, who urge you to consider exactly what you are doing and what the result of your actions are, and stop. Stop the torture of men, women and children on Manus Island and Nauru, and stop the cruel insecurity you inflict on the 30 000 refugees who are trapped in limbo without permanent visas.

A Dream of Death
For a long time I’ve felt lonely. 
I annoy myself with bad memories of this place. 
My dears, I know these are old stories, but listen, I ask you.
I was once young and happy like you,
and used to jump up from this wall to another,
I was so healthy and fresh. 
I came to live in peace beside you. 
I sought asylum in your country because of my bad luck.
I don't know why they tortured me, 
why they cut my wings and feathers. 
They treated us like animals, put us in a cage. 
What kind of help was that to give us? 
It's like you went to a feast, and left us,
like animals, tied up
outside.
They played with my spirit and soul for years. 
They played with me as though I were
a piece on a chessboard. 
In the final moment of each game,
I was trapped, unable to move.
I always lived with fear in the cage. 
At night I had no peace because of nightmares,
and more nightmares. 
Going to see the doctor,
I had no choices. 
I took the pills he gave me, and I sat
by the fence for hours.
And still I take the pills
and sit by the fence for hours.
At first my mind stops, then I dream. 
My thoughts are killing me. 
They take me to my death. I see
strange events in this camp
and in the other one.
Suicide and self-burning were on people’s minds. 
All these were – once - just a thought in someone’s mind. 
Did you see that all those dreams came true? 
You all know what's going on
in the Manus and Nauru hells. 
There are rapes, and burnings
And hangings.
Many said goodbye to their lives here.
Do you see what the mental pills do to us.? 
When you see or hear us, from far away, you will say
They are some crazy stupid people. 
Let me tell you it's all because of those pills; 
it's not our fault.
One day, like every day,
I took those pills. I had no choice. 
I fell deep into dreams, was sunk there for hours. 
I saw I was dead. I was happy: satisfied. 
They put me in a rotten coffin. I was shrouded
in pale second hand linens. It was clear
they took them from the rubbish.
They wrapped me in those linens. My soul got separated;
I was suspended in the air. 
They were taking me to those far places of the cemetery. 
I was looking for a familiar person to hold my coffin. 
I wished I could have died
beside my parents, so to die
in peace, in their embrace. 
But I saw these strangers damn and curse. 
They did not care for what they held,
and they did not cry.
We got to the cemetery in exile. 
They threw me into the hole with hate. 
There was a stony pillow under my head. 
The shrouding linens were rotten on my body. 
How terrible and frightening it was,
inside the grave.
I saw many animals make their way into my grave. 
They all attacked my body. 
My soul saw how they ate my body. They left nothing
but some pieces of my bones. 
It seemed that I wasn't a human once. 
I used to talk and laugh until yesterday. 
They threw soil on my coffin. 
They didn't put a headstone there.
They wrote no address and no name. 
No one in the world knew who I am.
In my dream I said, “Parents! know I died!’’
I saw my parents in black because of my death. 
And how deeply they cried out and wept. 
My mum tore at her face, 
till there was nothing left undamaged, and there were blood and tears
flowing down her face.
Always, after this, Mum used to faint from sorrow
at my death. She would whisper,
“I have no sign of his grave.”
Whatever happens, she is a mother. 
Her hair turned white because of my distance from her,
Even before my death. 
I haven't seen my father's tears since that day
when he cried softly, his tears falling
from white eyelashes,
saying, “My son, what kind of migration was this? 
Always, it was our dream to see your wedding, 
but we heard about your death instead.”
The dream was heavy on my heart. 
I woke in horror, wishing I had not hurt them
by my dying, 
by failing to have had a wedding day.
Understand, please: I wish to live healthily, like you, 
to say goodbye to these damn pills. 
For three years, I’ve taken them,
and now I'm deeply tired, 
depressed, hopeless. 
How do I explain the hurt
of this hard, bitter life? I swear to God
that I wish to die. In the morning,
I wish not to be alive.
Because my thoughts are killing me, 
I have no choice but damn pills. 
Hey people, should I thank your government for them? 
Is this the care you give to refugees?
That you make addicts here, and mental illness?
Only God can help us. Put yourself
in our families’ shoes for a second. 
And put your children in our shoes for a moment too. 
I'm sorry if was rude to you. 
I ask your forgiveness, and I make an obeisance. 
I ask God to forgive those who tortured us. 
They don't know what they did to us.