Behrouz Boochani the Kurdish-Iranian journalist, writer, film maker, humanitarian activist and refugee is now on New Zealand soil after detention for six years on Manus Island.
His freedom is cause for celebration and is a tribute to Behrouz himself and unions, union based groups such as Teachers for Refugees and Unions for Refugees, the Refugee Action Coalition, the United Nations Refugee Agency, Amnesty International, and many other groups and supporters.
His papers to leave PNG were provided by the UNHCR and he has been granted a one month visitor visa by New Zealand Immigration to speak at the WORD Conference Christchurch.
Behrouz is enjoying his freedom and says he is wanting to just not be part of the process for a while. I can only imagine the love and excitement when he speaks in person at WORD Christchurch on 29 November. 1000 tickets have been sold for his event and it is sold out.
Despite his imprisonment Behrouz has spoken by mobile phone and Skype from Manus Island at many events and received numerous international awards. He represented all detainees and brought to the world their life in detention at the hands of the Australian government.
Speaking recently at the Blue Mountains Writers Festival Behrouz expressed that he does not want to come to Australia due to his treatment in detention. It is uncertain what will happen next. Questions as to whether he will seek asylum in NZ, Europe or Canada will be a case of wait and see. At the moment he appears to be putting this on hold, savouring freedom and taking a break from the struggle he has endured for so long.
Other refugees still in Port Moresby are existing in very poor conditions having been exposed to a failed attempt at community living which lasted only a couple of hours. 50 refugees are in Bomana Prison. We call on the Australian government to give them all permanent, safe resettlement. The chant of “Bring them here!” has become “Let them go!“