BEHROUZ BOOCHANI, “THE VOICE OF REFUGEES IN MANUS ISLAND”, IS FREE AFTER SIX YEARS




İrem UZUN -TDO- Behrouz Boochani, the Kurdish Iranian refugee and journalist who became the voice of those incarcerated on Manus Island, has landed in New Zealand and says he will never return to Papua New Guinea or Australia’s immigration regime.“I just want to be free of the system, of the process. I just want to be somewhere where I am a person, not just a number, not just a label ‘refugee’,” he said shortly after leaving Papua New Guinea.

Mr.Boochani arrived on Australia's Christmas Island in July 2013. He had hoped to claim asylum, but fell foul of its strict refugee policy. In the same month, the country's then-prime minister vowed no asylum seeker arriving by boat would ever be resettled in Australia, even if found to be genuine refugees. Australia says its policies are necessary to deter dangerous attempts to reach the country by sea.The journalist was sent to PNG's Manus Island in 2013, after arriving in Australian territory by boat. During his life in the island, he became one of Manus Island's most well-known voices, chronicling the lives of his fellow asylum seekers and publishing his award-winning book No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison in 2018.The book, which details his experience as a refugee on Manus Island, was written on a smartphone via WhatsApp and has won numerous awards, including the Victorian Prize for Literature - Australia's richest literary honor - in 2019.

From New Zealand, he hopes to travel to the US, where he has been accepted for asylum as part of a deal to resettle refugees from Australia's two offshore detention centers. If this is now denied because of his arrival in New Zealand, he said he will look at other options.


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