Last Wednesday we conducted a Vigil for the Manus Island refugees, detained by our own heartless federal government and Papua New Guinea. The event was organised by Juan Garrido Salgado, his son Lenin and the Pablo Neruda Cultural Committee SA and sponsored by Writing Through Fences. We sat – or stood – on the steps of Parliament House and read and listened to chilling poetry from the men held in the Manus concentration camp (for that’s what it is) for over four years. I joined SA poets Ali Cobby Eckermann, Amelia Walker, Ian Gibbins, Sergio Holas and Juan Garrido and speakers Lenin, Jaimie Newlyn, a whistle-blowing Manus nurse (whose name I’m embarrassed to say I’ve forgotten!) with beautiful music from Jen Lush.
I read my poem the bird leaves its cage and enters another (dedicated to Juan Garrido) and an extract from Manus detainee Mohammad Ali Malecki’s Truth in The Cage