Mr EatenFish: Shocking Journey From Manus to Stavanger
Ali Dorani, a 28 years old Iranian Cartoonist, became ‘Mr EatenFish’ after he was rescued from the ocean when the boat carrying him to Australia broke up and sank.
Please introduce yourself to our readers. Who are you?
“I am Ali Dorani, a 28 years old cartoonist known by my nom de plume ‘EatenFish’ or ‘Mr EatenFish’. I prefer not to talk about my activities in Iran.
“I am an Iranian political cartoonist and comic artist and I’m also the latest ‘friby forfatter’ in Stavanger/ Norway. I have been living here for 15 months now. I used to live in an immigration detention centre in Australia and Papua New Guinea, which is called Manus Island refugee camp. I was detained for 5 years before I moved to Stavanger.”
How did you go to Australia and did you know about the new offshore detention rule?
“Since I had to flee Iran at first I flew to Indonesia and waited for the smuggler to take me to Australia. In Indonesia I did not have access to TV or any social media to know about the changes in immigration laws in Australia when I stepped onto Australian soil, I encountered shocking news. Imagine while I was in Indonesia and in the Middle of the International waters the Australian government enacted the new Offshore Detention Law and five days after that I stepped onto Australian soil. The offshore detention law is the controversial law that is applied to all who arrive at the Australian shore without a visa and they will be transferred to the third country and will be accommodated in the refugee camps outside of Australian borders.”
Australian Refugee Camps
How was the situation in the refugee camps?
“At first, I was transferred to Christmas Island there was a huge number of refugees who were jailed in there, I stayed there for six months. Then I was transferred to Manus Island; a large cage that looked like a barn or aviary than a camp. Since I suffer from OCD I needed a distraction so I started to draw the ‘cartoon diary’ that mostly reflected my feelings. In Manus, I didn’t have access to paper or pen and pencil but I managed to get them anyway.”
How did you manage to send your work out of Manus?
“After a year, the Australian government permitted us to use the internet for 45 minutes per week. I started to send hundreds of random emails; after eighteen months one of the Australian activists respond to me and asked me to send her my cartoons. Janet Galbraith displayed one of my cartoons in Melbourne and it shined through the exhibition. This exhibition and Galbraith efforts caused international attention to my case, the requests and protests of human rights activists resulted in my freedom from Manus.”
How and when did you come to Norway?
“The protests and ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network) led to my freedom and Norway was the country that granted me asylum. On 17th December 2017, in the middle of the dark and cold winter, I entered Norway. “
Why did you come to Norway?
” I didn’t have a choice to choose the country that I wanted to move to but I am happy that I am in Norway. After the traumatic experience that I had everything and everyone was so strange and even scary. After a while, I felt at home and I found a friend from all over Norway and other countries.”
What do you do in Norway?
“Upon my arrival in Stavanger, I have been given an office in the library of Stavanger by the ICORN and I work there. “
What is the most interesting thing about Norway?
“Norway and Norwegians are very peaceful. Everything is so good that I cannot find an excuse to criticize and draw a cartoon. So I focus on people’s daily life and interactions not to criticize but to observe and reflect it on my cartoons.”
Plans for the Future
What are your future plans?
“I have three different agendas. One will be launching a campaign against ‘Sexual harassment against men’ and two others are related to my art. I will have two exhibitions. One will be in Frankfurt, Germany in October 2019 and will last for a month. The other one will be in Norway in Tysvær in November 2019.”
What are your wishes?
“Since I was a child, I wished to be a cartoonist. My talent flourished in spite of the horrible situation. So the first wish of being cartoonist came true, my second wish is to be a filmmaker, I am studying and working on it as well.”
Have you inspired by a cartoonist (Iranian or international figure)?
“Since my childhood, I have been charmed with the work of many cartoonists. Mainly I can say I have been inspired by many cartoonists especially those who draw to save me from the hell I had been captured in.”
This interview with Ali Dorani (aka Mr EatenFish) is conducted by Zahra Moravvej for Norway Today.
© #Norway Today