The Twisted Truths: In Australian Prisons And Detention Centres.
Have you ever doubted the resilience of a human spirit? Settle your doubts in this book.
Mamer Dau Thuch has written two books; this is his second book, and the other is The Shadows of Wrath: Life Trials. Mamer came to Australia with his dearest Mother in 2008, having lived in Kakuma, as a refugee. In a dark turn of events, he was involved in a fight, a fight that led him to prison, cancellation of his permanent residency visa, and finally to detention centre, facing deportation.
The book, Indefinite Cruelty Caged Animals— A Cry for Justice, is an impressive and comprehensive chronicle of his life. He took a considerable time, energy and patience to write his stories in brilliant clarity. From the time of his first exodus in 1991, his journey to Kakuma Refugee Camp, his time in the camp with ups and downs of a refugee’s life, his elementary and secondary education to his journey to Australia, Mamer held nothing back!
The above title (The Twisted Truths), the commentary on his book, is inspired by how he exposed—in his book—the dark sides of Australian laws and politicians. Below is my commentaries, categorised in (MY) WISHES and STRENGTHS.
~~~SOME OF MY WISHES~~~
I wished the editor would have advised the author to consider these minor mistakes. While perusing through his book, I came across the followings. Don’t forget that we all have different tastes. You could see them in different lights, different from how I see them.
It was beautiful when the author defined the Kiswahili; I believe if the author could have done the same justice to the following words (Arabic words): Hilla-Tawara (page 18), and Kor-Machi,Hila-Mataar(page 22) for the sake of Non-Sudanese readers. The book is in the international market on mega sites such as Amazon so translations of non-English words are crucial.
Secondly, somewhere in the book, “The soldier was one of the rebels”, should have been stated as one of the SPLA soldiers to avoid confusion, because by that time(1991) the SPLA had split. In the same paragraph, “sent to or returned from war” should have been sent to or returned from the frontline, because already the war had become the general description of liberation uprising in Sudan so all (civilians and soldiers) was in war.
Thirdly, “Key-based” should be Key-Base(page 38) as “…FEARD” that refugees in Loki could smuggle guns into Kenya…(page 42).” should be “FEARED”.
Finally, those involved in Rwandan genocide were Hutu and Tutsi, not “Trustees and Utus “(page 61). And so do the Kenyan military police. It’s GSU( General Service Unit), not ‘JSU’ (page 112) and “Gezirai”, is Githurai — a suburb next to Zimmerman in Nairobi (160).
Prominent names and names of places, especially those with famous or infamous stories that have been documented and talked about million times must be double checked for their correct spellings.
Mamer, in his book, poured his heart out for the unaccompanied minors when he first met them in Kapoeta. Talking of their ( Jesh el Hamar’s) lives was powerful, his kind of storytelling is brilliantly grounded in his diction. Their struggles, their resilience, and their determination to survive and thrive in the harshest situations were well articulated by the author.
With meticulous details, the author proposed relocation of Machuor’s remains and tomb to South Sudan. He expressed his opinions about this so well in the book. This is a reflection of a progressive thinking and valuing of those who have contributed much, including their lifespans. Buried in Langatta, [Nairobi], with an epitaph: “Macuor of the Dinka”(page 65), Archibald remains a saint in the hearts and minds of the Episcopalians of South Sudan. Macuor, his Dinka name, was known as Archibald Shaw in his native country, England. He was the first missionary who sailed to Malek, South Sudan, and established Episcopal church.
The author immersed himself in lots of death-defying situations so he galvanised himself from the eternal fear of death by adopting some mantra. This becomes one of his last resorts. “So be it”… It’s my principle that sometimes I take the possibility of death as an easy option because I know that death will mean resting and not feeling pain anymore “.(146).
Regardless of roughest roads the author has traveled, he never ceased acknowledging those whose help was instrumental in each step he took in his life( journey). So, gratefulness or sincere gratitude that streamed throughout the book is something that readers should note as a theme by its own right. For example, “… my token of gratitude…” Sentences of this kind and manner have been threads woven in the fabric of his book.
What readers, whether they reside here in Australia, or in other faraway countries, must be prepared for, are horrors done to inmates inside high walls and dark corners of the prisons. Australia is one of successful and richest countries on earth; it portrays Herself as a keen observer of the Human Rights.
However, when words on papers ( policies aligning Australia with UN charters) are measured up with treatments of brown and black people behind bars, they failed miserably. Thus, The Twisted Truths In Australian Prisons And Detention Centres become apparent.
For example, jail stories in the book such as that of Mr . Hyena and the bread incident (page 184) and many other stories in book could have been easily mistaken as coming out of some dictatorial countries such as North Korea. These stories are typical examples of the institutionalised corruption. It’s reported in the book that nurses don’t observe ethnics of professionalism, and correctional officers physically assaulted inmates to points of breaking inmates’ bones or teeth, and other fatal injuries.
Stories concerning his worries came out of him with ease and beautifully without forgetting his theme of gratitude.
For instance, talking about the Singaporean officer who sympathised with Africans’ inmates, the author had this to say: “the Singaporean officer wasn’t racist against me, but he cautioned me on how I should deal with white officers. He was not an enemy, but a brother who would tell a brother to look into the hole be he jumps”.
As you draw to the back cover, the author challenged the crooked policies assembled by politicians who regurgitate the racists’ reactions to seeing difference faces in Australia. He exposed the Immigration department —Home Affairs and Border Protection. For example, sentences such as this: “…they drinking my blood for their own good.” are so powerful.
With these commentaries, I urge you to grab a copy on Amazon to read some unbelievable stories in the book:
Indefinite Cruelty: Caged Animals—a Cry for Justice From war-torn South Sudan to Australiaʼs Detention Centres.
Reviewed by kur wel kur
Indefinite Cruelty: Caged Animals – A Cry for Justice
By Mamer Dau Thuch
In the Indefinite Cruelty: Caged Animals – A Cry for Justice, Mamer Dau Thuch tells the story of his life. Thuch’s story is one of struggle to make the most of life. Thuch’s courage, bravery and sometimes his propensity to violence is demonstrated throughout the book. Thuch gives us an insight into how displaced persons in South Sudanese in the 1990s evaded and survived the civil war. Life in Kakuma Refugee Camp in the 1990s/2000s, for Thuch, was dominated by violence and near-death experiences. His movement back and forth between Kenya and South Sudan in search for a fulfilling life tested his courage, bravery and patience. Violence and death were always lurking around the corner. Thuch hoped that his emigration to Australia was going to bring him a deserved relief from the crazy refugee camp life and the insecurity and instability in South Sudan. Although Thuch began his life well in Australia, trouble eventually found him. Thuch found himself in the justice system. Once again Thuch had to be violent to survive the Western Australian justice system. After many years of incarceration in the Western Australian justice system, Thuch finds himself in the immigration detention system. This time round he witnesses the brutality of the Australian immigration system where people’s rights are taken away from them and locked up indefinitely. In the end, Thuch continues to live with uncertainty and violence as he awaits his deportation to South Sudan.
The book was written mainly for the South Sudanese audience. The style of writing is raw and honest. There is very little self-censorship. The incidences and the events described in the book were in graphic shocking details. What is even more shocking is that the people who participated in violent incidences that resulted in the death of others were named. Thuch himself participated actively in some of those acts of violence but had never described an incident where he was the one committing the killing. In the many incidences in the book where Thuch witnessed the killing of other people, he urged the persons committing the killing to stop.
The strength of the book is in its rawness and the lack of self-censorship. The book transports the reader to those places where Thuch had been. As the reader embarks on that journey, they are forced to live those stories and become an accomplice in the many incidences described in the book. The reader feels the sense of desperation, fear, uncertainty, courage and the sense that something better is out there that could be grasped. The reader experiences the sense of disappointment and the bewilderment Thuch experiences especially in the last part of the book where he describes his experience with the justice system and the immigration system in Australia. Thuch leaves the reader wondering how a wealthy, democratic country like Australia that pride itself on upholding human rights could institute justice and immigration detention systems that purposefully inflict injustice on humanity in such a way that breaches their human rights.
Although the audience of the book is the South Sudanese reader, the themes of the book would appeal to a wider audience in Australia and globally. The book is about what happens when the world looks away when injustice happens. The Sudanese civil war in the 1980s and 1990s was ignored by the rest of the world. Displaced persons had to fend for themselves and find a way to survive. The book shows what happens when the world looks away from displaced persons. Even when the world pays attention for a moment, no permanent solutions are found. Displaced persons who cross borders are housed in refugee camps and forgotten. Peace agreements are brokered without addressing the challenges people are living with on the ground. The world congratulates itself for getting warlords to sign peace agreements that have no meaning to the people who have been impacted. The world moves on leaving behind millions of people affected by war to deal with it. Thuch shows us in his book what happens when the world moves on.
The book is also very much about how minority groups in Australia experience the justice system. Thuch shows us how brutal the justice system is in Australia. He shows us how racism and bureaucratic indifference mean that minority groups in prison are left vulnerable and often become victims of the system. Thuch also suggests that the prison system has become a money-making venture where those working in that system have no interest in the welfare of the prison population apart from keeping them there. Thuch has raised questions about the immigration detention system in Australia, a system that is built on a lay. The immigration detention system takes away people’s rights and leaves them with no recourse. People in that system are stuck. They cannot be allowed to live in Australia, but they are not deported. Thuch courageously ask: Is this the Australia we want?
Thuch has brought to the fore the story of many Australians who migrated to Australia due to the upheaval of war in their home countries. These stories have now become part of the Australian story and most be told. Thuch has made some of these stories available to all Australians. Thuch’s story sits alongside other stories that are often not told or denied because they chip away at the story we tell ourselves – Australia is a democratic, egalitarian society built on the values of justice, fairness, equality and human rights.
Atem Dau Atem
13 February 2022