Manus Island Detainee Abdul Aziz Muhmat wins Human Rights Award

Abdul Aziz Muhamat has been awarded with the 2019 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in Geneva. Referred to in detention as No QNK002, Muhmat has been held in Australia’s mandatory detention centre on Manus Island for 6 years, originally arriving as a 20 year old refugee from the Darfur region of Sudan. He fled civil conflict, famine and drought with the hope of a safer life in Australia.

“In one of the democratic countries, one of the western countries that believe in democracy and in justice, I find myself locked like an animal in a cage” he said.

In his speech, Aziz talked of being sent to Papua New Guinea and being unable to stay due to the lack of safety and having no right to stay in the country, but being disallowed by the Australian government the opportunity to seek refuge elsewhere. He then commented that the people in detention centres are worth more to the politicians in Australia when they are on locked up.

Aziz stressed that fighting day and night for the rights of others is not such an easy path; after giving his speech in Geneva he will return to Manus Island detention centre. “This award sheds light on the very cruel refugee policy of the Australian government” he said.

He thanked the International communities acknowledgement of the people detained on Manus Island’s existence, resilience and struggle.

'I have been put in a cage for six years. But instead of making me weak, the cage made me so strong.’

Sonja Duncan