Monday, 13 February 2017
Statements by Members
Boochani, Mr Behrouz
Mr Behrouz Boochani has been imprisoned by the Australian government on Manus Island since 2013. I would like to tell the parliament some of his story.
Boochani was a founder, editor and writer for a magazine in Iran that addressed human rights and Kurdish culture. He faced severe restrictions on his freedom of expression. He was denied a visa to travel and placed under surveillance and he was threatened and interrogated. In the February 2013 army officers ransacked the office of Boochani's magazine and arrested 11 of his colleagues. Six were imprisoned, and Boochani was forced to go into hiding for three months. No longer safe he sought asylum in Australia. But rather than welcome him the Labor and Liberal governments have kept him locked up in offshore detention.
From the Manus Island detention centre Behrouz Boochani continues his journalism. Using social media and writing for publications in Australia and overseas, he is documenting the reality of Australia's cruel policies—the reality that this government has tried so hard to keep from the Australian public. He has spoken out about the cruel limbo faced by Manus Island detainees as a result of the government's plan to send them to Donald Trump's America.
Boochani has been supported by PEN International and the PEN Melbourne Centre. PEN International stands against the persecution of writers who peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression and speaks out on behalf of writers who are imprisoned. I would like to acknowledge my constituents who form the local branch of PEN Melbourne. I support their call for Boochani's claims to be processed immediately. Nobody should be in offshore detention simply for seeking asylum. We must close the camps.