Stories from Nauru's hell

March 11, 2016


Drawing by S Nagaveeran.

From Hell to Hell
By S Nagaveeran
Writing through Fences
2015
Email fenceswritingthrough@gmail.com for copies

From Hell to Hell is the powerful new work of poems and drawings by S Nagaveeran, also known as Ravi.

In detention for 33 months in Nauru, Ravi turned to writing and drawing as a way of dealing with the emotion and despair that overwhelmed him.

He fled his first hell that was Sri Lanka in 2012, in an effort to escape the ongoing persecution of the Tamil people in the wake of the civil war.

He landed in another hell when he was incarcerated on the isolated Pacific island of Nauru in an Australian-run prison camp.

“I came here in September 2012 seeking a good life and a future,” Ravi told a packed audience at the Perth book launch. “I didn't want to leave family and friends, I just sought peace.

“Instead I was sent to a human dumping ground and was left there for 33 months.”

Describing his work, Ravi said: “This book is not just words. It is full of tears, pain, suffering and grief; it's how people are still dying slowly in Nauru and Manus.”

Accompanying Ravi's poems are his drawings from the inside — a further expression of how this dehumanising policy of mandatory detention breaks people. It destroys hope, mental health and, all too often, lives.

Ravi's writings and his efforts are now directed at seeking to build support and awareness among Australian people that those fleeing persecution are not criminals, they should not be punished all over again, and that mandatory detention is wrong and must end. Below is an example of Ravi's work.

* * *

Can you feel my pain?

Why did you bring us here?
I just came to you for protection of my life.
I cannot accept more pain.
Already I have too much in my heart.
My situation is difficult,
Not simply unpleasant.
I am completely depressed,
Walking in the desert
With only a few hopes and dreams.
I am a disappointed man,
disgusted with my life.
I have remembered my forgotten past
And have no peace within me.
I am a frail man now.
My future lost in darkness
And no one feels pity for me.

Why are you penalising me like this?
This is not destiny
You can change my destiny.

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