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Remembering when Good Friday became Bad Friday

By Shamindan Kanapathi 

I write this, wishing you all a very happy Easter. We, in Manus, send our love and prayers to all of the people around the world and especially our beloved families and friends in Australia. May God bless all of us by fulfilling our hopes and dreams.

This is the 6th Easter we are celebrating since we were forcibly transferred from Australia to Manus Island. Every Easter I have said to myself that next Easter will be happier, and I’ll be free. But here I am, still on Manus, still desperately waiting for my release and freedom. Yes, waiting through another Easter, the same as the Easter when we experienced the PNG Navy shooting towards us.

In 2017 Good Friday became a bad Friday for us. It was a day filled with fear, trauma and powerlessness as the PNG Navy shot at us for about 60 minutes. Highly sophisticated guns were used. We had no protection. We were left imprisoned and abandoned. We didn’t know what to do, where to go or from whom to seek safety. Instead of the security guards protecting us they ran away from us and hid.

The former Immigration Minister, now Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, publicly accused us of creating this situation, saying that it was our fault that the shooting happened. But like many times before, we had done nothing wrong. Mr Dutton’s power and use of words that represent us as criminals or terrorists seemed to produce enough doubt in much of the Australian people’s minds so that these terrifying criminal acts against us were not seen as serious, or even as acts of crime against human beings. Minister Dutton euthanised out any truth. Instead of enquiries and investigations he accused the victims of this tragedy. His explanation and the stories created about this terrible day were the actions of an irresponsible man without any integrity. The PNG police commander for Manus Province, however, denied Dutton’s allegations and stood by justice.

Having survived this shooting of 2017, we realised that again we were just lucky enough to be alive. We fled our family and home country to escape being tortured, persecuted and eventually killed but here we were experiencing the same treatment.  It’s been almost three years since this tragic violence was visited against us and still, we are here in this remote island with no hope, desperately waiting for our freedom.

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10 comments

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  1. RomeoCharlie29

    Bring them to Australia.

  2. Alcibiades

    Close the offshore concentration camps, end the corrosive corruption of multi-billion dollar ‘contracts’ & rorts, revoke the artificial excisation of Australian territories, comply with International Law & Treaties re humane processing, treatment & refoulement, promptly release recognised refugees in Oz & promptly process future ones in the community, not detention, and start acknowledging the hidden refugee arrivals by plane at a record rate of ~27,931 last financial year under Duttons watch as reported by his Home Affairs Department website.

  3. Jon Chesterson

    Shamindan, I cannot wish you all a happy Easter on Manus because clearly, how is that possible? But I can read and share your thoughts with others. I can remember where you are and continue to share your grief and know that you are and have been unjustly detained for far too long. This should never have happened and you have broken no laws and been no threat to anyone. And for seeking freedom from tyranny which any reasonable person might do, you have had your freedom taken away, been abandoned, attacked and treated with such violence, cruelty and ruthless disregard for human rights by Australia and PNG.

    Dutton, we are not just hoping but campaigning in his electorate to ensure he does not get re-elected. And once he is out of Parliament along with the Liberals and Nationals, when we have new government we all can campaign for change, release, and a new home. We can campaign for justice and an enquiry. Once Dutton and his mates like Morrison are out, they will no longer have the direct protection of Parliament, and they will lose control of their power and their immunity, lets hope.

    I will not be celebrating Easter, there is nothing for genuine Australians or Christians (not that I am) to celebrate while ever you all remain imprisoned on Manus, on a small island. So I will be buying nothing and celebrating nothing, I will contribute nothing to the Australian economy, and nothing other than the basic needs of living, and I make no apology for boycotting the whole of corporate Australia, locally and nationally, for it is Australian businesses, the economy, government and the people of Australia who have turned a blind eye and permitted this gross injustice to continue.

    I am hopeful this year, change will come! I think many of us are but not least you. I am pleased you have found a voice here and keep writing my friend, keep writing till freedom comes, and keep writing beyond it.

    Silver stone on wings of sorrow,
    they glimmer on ocean waves.
    Salty fleece and refuge follow
    whatever parlous promise chase,
    wherever they choose must go.

    The moon is black on flight of sorrow
    and burns as a star breathes bright.
    So far away this ghostly light,
    lantern sailing through the night
    in pain of darkness swallow.

    But my heart too is full of sorrow
    plain as desert sand dunes spill.
    There can be no love as hollow,
    boundless still, these veins we bleed
    and will so blunt and narrow.

    Why when I am free to follow,
    others ordained they cannot go?
    No land or fathom mean and shallow
    nor for my friend of friends their chains undo
    I too, condemned to sorrow.

    Moon Over Sea at Night, published in: Poetic Velocity (Anthology), March 2019, Social Design Inc, San Jose CA https://allpoetry.com/poem/13545652-Moon-Over-Sea-at-Night-by-Barddylbach

  4. Keith

    Shamindan

    Many of us are ashamed of what our government has done in relation to treating people fleeing from the destruction occurring in their countries.

  5. Lambert Simpleton

    Good Friday…about the side of human nature people don’t want to know about.

  6. ChristopherJ

    Shamindan

    We know the risks you have taken to get your words written here.

    Many Australians feel ashamed at your treatment. Many are working and lobbying for your release.

    We are hoping a Labor government will reverse what has happened to you and you are brought into the Australian community soon.

    Thank you

  7. Cara Clark

    Shamindan,

    I’m so sorry for the appalling treatment you have been subject to at the hands of our government. Please know that so many of us are horrified and ashamed.

  8. terence mills

    Shamindan

    Through no fault of your own, you have become a political pawn used by a foul conservative government to run periodic scare campaigns.

    We are told, on the one hand, that in keeping with the determination of the PNG Supreme Court, you are not detained and that there is no detention centre on Manus : you are free men.
    But when it comes to medical evacuation to Australia for urgent healthcare we are told that you are pedophiles, rapists and murderers.

    I offer my humble and sincere apology to you and your fellow detainees : we are trying to cut through the lies and misinformation and to consign this minister and this government into the history books.

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