Stories from Manus

I wish that I could study at a good university and become a human rights lawyer or barrister.

Meet Amir, 23, 

Imprisoned on Manus 

Island Detention Camp

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I was only 14 when I had to leave my country.  I was studying law at high school, and I thought to myself - 'I want to be a human rights lawyer.' I still do.

I escaped and made it to Malaysia all by myself, leaving my family behind.  I managed to get a student visa so I could be there for five  years.  I made a living, to pay rent and eat by showing international tourists around the local areas.  I was just a boy.

I lived in Malaysia like that for 5 years. I was living on my own, and for the first time I had to cook for myself. I didn't have a recipe book, I didn't have anyone to teach me; there I was at 15, just making up recipes. I usually got it right!

I met lots of new friends, and learned about the different cultures in Malaysia - Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Tamil.

As I worked showing tourists around, I met many new people, went many new places and visited lots of places in Malaysia that I'd never been to.

There are so many people on this planet you can help by doing very simple things. I just want to be able to do that.

One day local authorities caught me without my passport.  It was terrifying.  I spent two  weeks in a Malaysian prison as a teenager while they confirmed my student visa.

I knew my student visa would eventually run out, I knew that I couldn't go back to Iran, and I couldn't stay in Malaysia. So I tried to get to Australia. Instead, the government sent me here to Manus.

All I wanted was to live in a place where nobody would question who I am.

I always wanted to be a person that would contribute to a country.  I never planned to come to Australia. Australia was the nearest, easiest way for me to escape danger. I thought that Australia would treat me like a human being and offer me sanctuary.  

Unfortunately, there's been a pause on my life for three years being on Manus.  Now I've faced terrible times here and suffered things that I've never been put through before.

I wish that I could study at a good university and become a human rights lawyer.

There are so many people on this planet you can help by doing very simple things. I just want to be able to do that.

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Photo by: Mathew Abbott