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Kamis, 23 Juli 2020

New Zealand grants asylum to Behrouz Boochani, Kurdish-Iranian refugee who was detained on Manus Island - ABC News

Former Manus Island detainee and journalist Behrouz Boochani has had his claim for asylum accepted by New Zealand and has been granted a visa to stay in the country.

The Kurdish-Iranian journalist spent six years in detention in Papua New Guinea for asylum seeker processing after attempting to enter Australia by boat in 2013.

He catapulted to worldwide fame in 2019 after his book No Friend But The Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison won the Victorian Prize for Literature, Australia's richest literature prize.

Boochani's 374-page book, detailing his experiences in detention, was written in secret and was smuggled out of the detention centre via hundreds of text messages to his translators and editors in Australia.

The 37-year-old was granted a one-month visa to speak at a literary festival in Christchurch in November last year and made an application for asylum in New Zealand shortly afterwards.

Boochani discovered he had been granted asylum by New Zealand almost seven years to the day from the moment he was arrested by the Australian Navy, taken to Christmas Island, and subsequently flown to PNG.

"I look at it as an end of chapter of my life and I feel happy because I have certainty for my future," Boochani told the ABC.

"But on the other side it's extremely difficult because still this policy exists and still people are living in detention in Australia, in Port Moresby and Nauru and still the Australian Government continues with this policy of torturing people."

Boochani, fleeing persecution in his homeland of Iran, made it to Christmas Island four days after it was announced by then-prime minister Kevin Rudd that no further boat arrivals would be permitted on Australian soil.

Following the closure of the Manus Island centre in 2017, Boochani and his fellow detainees were moved to refugee transit centres near the island's main town of Lorengau, and later, to the country's capital Port Moresby.

Successive Australian governments refused to grant the asylum seekers refugee status, or allow them to settle in Australia.

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Behrouz Boochani wrote the book in Farsi language and his words were translated to English in Australia.

Boochani's application for asylum caused a domestic political storm, with the Opposition immigration spokesman Stuart Smith claiming Boochani had only been allowed to enter the country only because he had "political friends" in the Government.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the allegation was "offensive".

Boochani reiterated he arrived in NZ legally.

"Everything around this case and the process was legal and what they claim, they have no evidence for it," he said.

"I followed the rules, I followed the law.

"I didn't know the politicians in New Zealand so what they claim is that I knew politicians … and that's how I ended up in NZ. The only person I knew was the head of the [literary] festival."

Mr Boochani has been granted a one-year work visa and will now be able to apply for permanent residency.

Supporters welcome NZ Government move

Arnold Zable, a fellow author and longstanding friend and advocate for Boochani, told the ABC a "huge weight has finally been lifted".

"All of us who know Behrouz are elated for a man who has stood fast for seven long years and borne witness to the suffering of men, women and children whose only desire was to find a place where they could call home and create new lives free of the traumas of the past," he said.

Boochani had been accepted for resettlement in the United States before he left for NZ.

Many refugees have waited several months to travel to the US after being accepted.

Two men smile, sitting in alfresco dining outside a cafe
Arnold Zable (right) says a "huge weight has finally been lifted".(Supplied: Arnold Zable)

Amnesty International Australia refugee coordinator Graham Thom said he had been working with Boochani for the past five years in his bid for asylum.

"I'm thrilled he has been offered permanent protection in New Zealand," Dr Thom said.

"But we must not forget there are still hundreds of others stuck offshore who also need to be brought to safety.

"It's time the Australian Government did the right thing and ended this cruel policy.

"There are alternatives —New Zealand has offered many times to resettle refugees."

Boochani is now eligible to apply for permanent residency.

The Australian Government has been contacted for comment.

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https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiWGh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmFiYy5uZXQuYXUvbmV3cy8yMDIwLTA3LTI0L2JlaHJvdXotYm9vY2hhbmktZ3JhbnRlZC1uei1yZWZ1Z2VlLXZpc2EvMTI0ODQzMTbSASdodHRwczovL2FtcC5hYmMubmV0LmF1L2FydGljbGUvMTI0ODQzMTY?oc=5

2020-07-23 23:45:00Z
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