Manus Recording Project Collective

where are you today;

  • 31.07.20 (play) Yasin, drinking green tea and looking through the window, watching cars go by, for Eid
  • 01.08.20 (play) Samad, waking up in his room in Gordon, Port Moresby.
  • 01.08.20 (play) Farhad Bandesh, walking from his room to the lounge room and kitchen of Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation.
  • 03.08.20 (play) Thanush, listening to a guided meditation and talking about painting.
  • 04.08.20 (play) Farhad Rahmati, playing pool with a friend
  • 05.08.20 (play) Shamindan, listening to a song that reminds him of home.
  • 06.08.20 (play) Yasin, playing FIFA 20 with his roommate
  • 06.08.20 (play) Samad, watching the second day of the Test match between Pakistan and England.
  • 08.08.20 (play) Farhad Bandesh, teaching his fellow detainee English.
  • 09.08.20 (play) Thanush, giving his friend Sinna a haircut.
  • 09.08.20 (play) Farhad Rahmati, sitting by the fence in the evening and listening to the birds
  • 12.08.20 (play) Shamindan, sitting in front of the Shady Rest Hotel and then going for a walk
  • 12.08.20 (play) Yasin, listening to ABC Country and working out at the hotel gym
  • 14.08.20 (play) Samad, boxing.
  • 15.08.20 (play) Farhad Bandesh, walking the yard and feeding pigeons.
  • 16.08.20 (play) Thanush, playing cards with his friends.
  • 16.08.20 (play) Farhad Rahmati, working out with a friend and thinking about the future and freedom.
  • 18.08.20 (play) Shamindan, in his room, doing nothing.
  • 18.08.20 (play) Yasin, playing pool and listening to music.
  • 18.08.20 (play) Samad, missing friends and family, looking at the sky and listening to sad songs.
  • 21.08.20 (play) Thanush, doing abdominal exercises with an activity officer.
  • 21.08.20 (play) Farhad Bandesh, listening to a very old Kurdish folk song.
  • 22.08.20 (play) Farhad Rahmati, playing ping pong while waiting in the queue for nightly medication
  • 24.08.20 (play) Yasin, chatting with two friends, one still waiting in PNG and another who has been resettled in the USA.
  • 24.08.20 (play) Thanush, listening to meditation music.
  • 25.08.20 (play) Shamindan, having a shower.
  • 24.08.20 (play) Samad, making breakfast after working out.
  • 27.08.20 (play) Farhad Bandesh, waking up and having breakfast.
  • 28.08.20 (play) Farhad Rahmati and others, watching Discovery Turbo channel and discussing what kinds of cars to buy when they’re released.
  • 28.08.20 (play) Shamindan, eating dinner alone.

Throughout August 2020, subscribers received a text message every day with a new ten-minute audio recording from Farhad Bandesh, Farhad Rahmati, Samad Abdul, Shamindan Kanapathi, Thanush Selvraj or Yasin Abdallah.

These men, seeking asylum by boat, were forcibly transferred to Manus Island by the Australian government nearly seven years ago. Now, they are held in hotels or detention centres in Port Moresby, Melbourne or Brisbane.

Mantra Hotel, Preston. Photo by Yasin Abdallah Mantra Hotel, Preston. Photo by Yasin Abdallah

‘For this recording, of course, there will be people who find it boring, and they won’t want to listen. But there are many people here, who just sit down and try to understand. They close their eyes, just to imagine the people in Manus, and try to make a connection with the men, in Manus. And that’s why I think this work is very interesting … it takes the audience inside the prison camp, just to live with them for a while. To witness their lives. Another thing really that is very important, is that this system treats us in a way where we do not exist. But we do exist. Sometimes we exist in Australia, through these artworks, you know. That part is very surreal. That is the important thing about this work. That it allows us to say: here we are.’

Behrouz Boochani, in conversation
with André Dao about how are you today,
3 December 2019.

  • [8:36 pm, 16/11/2019] Michael Green:
    How are things in the hotel?
  • [7:01 pm, 17/11/2019] Yasin Abdallah:
    Still waiting ...
Above: Mantra Hotel, Preston. Photo by Yasin Abdallah


FARHAD BANDESH is a 38-year-old Kurdish musician, painter and poet who was detained on Manus Island for six years, and now for more than a year in the Mantra Hotel and Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA). Before seeking asylum, he worked as a guitar maker. He has no formal art training; whilst in detention, he has produced solo and collaborative works of music, art and writing. He loves nature and is a keen gardener; his sisters now look after his plants.

FARHAD RAHMATI is a civil engineer from Khorramabad City in Iran. He was forcibly sent to Manus Island in 2013 and then evacuated to Australia in 2019 to be treated for a heart condition he developed in PNG. He was held at Kangaroo Point Central Hotel for eight months, where, from his balcony, he watched people walking their dogs on the outside. In June, he was moved to Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation (BITA).

SAMAD ABDUL was detained in an Aus­tralian run off­shore deten­tion centre on Manus for five years. For the last two years he has been in Port Moresby, where he is still not free. He loves cricket and his only dream was to be a pro­fes­sional crick­eter but politi­cians have taken his dream and used him as a polit­i­cal pris­oner. Although his seven years will not come back, he now wants to be a social worker to help those who are in pain.

SHAMIN­DAN KANA­P­ATHI is a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee. In Sri Lanka he was a mar­ket­ing exec­u­tive and a stu­dent. He was detained on Manus Island for six years and is now held in Port Moresby.

THANUSH SELVRAJ is a 32-year-old Sri Lankan Tamil refugee who fled persecution. In Sri Lanka he was a painter, artist, hairdresser, phone and computer repairer, photo and video editor and a student. He was detained on Manus Island before being transferred to Port Moresby hotel detention. From PNG he was transferred to the Mantra Hotel in Preston, Melbourne. He is currently being held in MITA with no hope of his freedom.

YASIN ABDALLAH is a 24-year-old man from Darfur, Sudan, from the Zaghawa ethnicity. He arrived in Australia by boat in 2013 and was taken to Manus Island. He has been detained in Mantra Hotel in Preston, Melbourne, for one year. When he was a teenager in Sudan, he used to fix cars with his uncle. He wants to be a mechanical engineer.

ANDRÉ DAO is a writer of fic­tion and non-fic­tion. He is the co-founder of Behind the Wire, an oral his­tory project doc­u­ment­ing people’s expe­ri­ence of immi­gra­tion deten­tion.

JON TJHIA is a radio-maker, artist and writer. As the Wheeler Centre’s senior dig­i­tal editor, he col­lab­o­ra­ted with Behind the Wire to pro­duce The Mes­sen­ger. He’s a co-founder of Paper Radio and the Aus­tralian Audio Guide.

MICHAEL GREEN is a writer, radio-maker and pro­ducer. He was the host of The Mes­sen­ger pod­cast, which won the 2017 Walk­ley Award for Radio/​Audio fea­ture. He trav­elled to Manus Island twice.

Two members of the Manus Recording Project Collective, who made recordings for how are you today (2018), are no longer detained by the Australian government. ABDUL AZIZ MUHAMAT is now in Geneva, where he was granted asylum by Switzerland. BEHROUZ BOOCHANI is now in Christchurch, where he was granted asylum by New Zealand. A third member of the collective, KAZEM KAZEMI, is still being detained at Kangaroo Point Central Hotel in Brisbane. Kazem decided not to make recordings for where are you today.