Behrouz Boochani to stay in New Zealand

Behrouz Boochani to stay in New Zealand

Acclaimed journalist, author, and former asylum seeker Behrouz Boochani will remain in New Zealand, after being accepted as a refugee.

Mr Boochani has said that gaining refugee status marked the end of “a long chapter in which I was involved in a long struggle against a barbaric policy, against this system that exiled decent people and kept people in indefinite detention.”

The author of No Friend But The Mountains was previously in the country for a special event organised by WORD Christchurch. He previously spent six years held on Manus Island.

Having refugee status means that the 38 year old Kurdish-Iranian writer can now stay in New Zealand and apply for a resident’s visa.

Mr Bouchani fled Iran in 2013, fearing persecution. Earlier that year, he had written a series of articles for the magazine Werya that led to his office being raided by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

He later attempted to reach Australia by boat, but was intercepted by the Royal Australian Navy and later incarcerated on Nauru.

In 2017, he claimed he had seen, “physical assaults, death, sexual abuse and torture” while he was there.

“I have seen the deliberate denial of medical care, even for serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. If you saw what was happening here, you would have no doubt it is a system of punishment and deliberate cruelty,” Mr Bouchani said.”

Since 2013, the Australian government has not allowed asylum seekers who attempt to arrive in Australia by boat to settle in the country, a policy introduced by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and maintained by successive Liberal governments.

The rationale for this policy has long been that the government does not want people taking the risky ocean journey.

No Friend But The Mountains was written on Mr Boochani’s mobile phone in a series of text messages. It has won the Victorian Prize for literature, among other awards.

The Uniting Church in Australia has repeatedly called for the Australian government to close offshore detention centres.

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