Australia

Behrouz Boochani was told he would never set foot in Australia. He just did

Highlights
  • Kurdish writer Behrouz Boochani has landed in Melbourne on Tuesday to promote new book.
  • It comes years after the previous government asserted he would never be permitted to enter Australia.
  • He said his visit is work-related and that he would continue to advocate for refugees and asylum seekers.
Kurdish refugee and writer Behrouz Boochani has landed in Australia years after the previous government insisted he would never be permitted to do so.
Mr Boochani, who now lives in New Zealand, arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday afternoon to promote his new book, Freedom Only Freedom.
It’s been three years since the Liberal Party’s then-immigration minister .

But in what would have been perceived as a huge achievement as he defied the previous government’s scathing comments about his future in Australia, Mr Boochani said it shouldn’t be.

“I hope that people here don’t interpret this visit as an achievement,” he said.
“I don’t look at it as an achievement. I just come here for work. An achievement like living in Australia or finally visiting Australia? No.”
Since fleeing persecution in Iran as an ethnic minority in 2013, and attempting to arrive in Australia by boat from Indonesia, Mr Boochani was among hundreds who were placed in offshore detention for years.
In 2019 he and, later in 2020, received asylum status.
“I never fought to live in Australia. I was just trying, struggling to say that we are political hostages, so let us go,” he said.
Mr Boochani made headlines after sensationally shedding light on Australia’s immigration detention system in Manus Island in a 2018 award-winning book compiled from WhatsApp messages.
He said his visit to Australia is work-related and that he would continue to advocate for refugees and asylum seekers.

Mr Boochani accused the Labor government of remaining complacent towards asylum seekers who remain in offshore detention.

As of September, the Refugee Council of Australia has recorded the Department of Home Affairs transferring 111 people to Nauru. As of December 2021, 105 people were transferred to Papua New Guinea.
“We have said many things for many years but it seems that Australia didn’t listen so now I am here to raise this issue again,” he said.
“After the election, during the election campaign, the Labor government manipulated people, the public. People think something changed about refugees. but nothing changed with refugees,” he said.
Labor supports — introduced by the Coalition in 2013 — under which boats carrying asylum seekers are turned back where safe to do so.

SBS News has contacted the Department of Home Affairs for comment.

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