The Agony of Limbo and the Imprisonment of the Innocent: Tales from the Frontline, The Ongoing Saga of Australia’s ‘Pacific Solution’

Australian novelist, storyteller, and human rights activist Arnold Zable will weave tales, testimony, poems, and observations regarding refugees who have been indefinitely detained, and imprisoned, in offshore camps in Nauru and Manus Island — which has become known as “the Pacific Solution” — and of refugees incarcerated in detention centres on the Australian mainland. Some were driven to the point of madness, some to suicide. Many have been traumatised. The source of the detainees’ agony had been, above all, the indefinite nature of their detention, their state of limbo, or as Viktor Frankl called it, in his reflection on camp life in an earlier era: their 'provisional existence of unknown limit.' Yet, there have also been many extraordinary acts of resistance — inmates themselves, who bore witness to their own suffering and the suffering of their fellow inmates in many forms — among them literature, journalism, art, music, story, documentation, testimony, and courageous activism. There have been refugee advocates who reached out to offer support, solidarity, and on release, a place to stay. Many refugees remain in limbo. The struggle is ongoing. As too, is the documentation of a period in Australian history which must be understood, and never forgotten.

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