After more than four years of describing his time at Nauru Detention Centre as an “everlasting fire,” and “a place of torment for the damned,” Burmese and Sri Lankan refugees finally admitted yesterday that their time on the tiny Micronesian island was, in fact, “all right.”
“In spite of all the hunger strikes and all the letters to Amnesty,” Burmese Permanent Protection Visa holder Aung San said, “Nauru was not so bad. Mostly it was quite pleasant. Most refugees just get a little emotional, that’s all.”
Following Aung San’s announcement, asylum seeking refugees awaiting processing in detention centres across Australia acknowledged the positives of their particular predicament.
“The riots in February are the best part so far,” said Amila Debnath, 27, who has been on Manus Island for 11 months. “But it’s all good. A lot of time you look the guard in the eye and instead of killing each other, you swap food recipes and tell funny stories. We show them our secret dens, and they invite us over to their food hall to share some imported Australian beer and to smoke cigarettes.”
Debnath said he also started smoking marijuana on Manus, a habit he still enjoys to this day.
“There is nothing in the world quite like it,” he said. “Not even a visa.”
Musayev Marma is a Sri Lankan refugee who has been at Christmas Island Immigration Reception and Processing Centre for twenty months said, “I’m so glad the facilities here are nothing like they portray in movies like Afghan Stories or In This World. That would be really bad. Coming To America and a little bit of Peter Seller’s The Party is more true to our experience.”
Added Marma: “You see, everybody talks about the overcrowding and the rape allegations. But no one ever talks about the Freddo Frogs and games of Twister.”
Acting as spokesperson for his group, Aung San also admitted that, contrary to what The Refugee Council of Australia’s claim, the asylum seeker circumstances are not something beyond the average Australian’s comprehension.
“For quite a time now we are telling people, if you are not a refugee then you would not understand us,” San said. “But this is simply not true. Anyone could easily look at the television and get a very good idea of what it is like for us. There are many many shows with many detailed descriptions and bright coloured pictures. You certainly don’t need to actually go to Nauru to get a feel for it.”
Padma Ambu, an asylum seeker from Nepal formally detained in the now closed Baxter Immigration Reception and Processing Centre, remembers many good times.
“A lot of times, in between fighting, we would have the barbeque of great seafood and just laze around and drink for many hours,” Padma said. “Then we’d usually flirt with the Baxter guards and take them to our room and have sex with them. And they would often be our very good friends.”
Padma is now raising two beautiful children in Port Augusta South Australia thanks to her exciting refugee sexual adventures.
Ali Rasulov, who while waiting for his asylum claim to be heard had his eye gouged out by a guard during a riot at the now defunct Port Hedland Detention Centre, said that although he has had numerous recurring nightmares over the past 10 years, they have been largely unrelated to his stint as a refugee.
“There’s a really bad one where I’m back in the Port Hedland, and I’m swimming in the Olympic pool, but I realise I’m not wearing any trunks because I forgot to bring my gym bag,” Rasulov said. “My goodness, it seemed so real, it was terrifying.”