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Award-winning journalist Behrouz Boochani freed from Manus Island

Iranian refugee to speak at notable literary festival in New Zealand

Visa to travel sponsored by Amnesty International

Behrouz Boochani, an award-winning journalist from Iran who is known for his work reporting on human rights abuses from Manus Island, has left Papua New Guinea and landed in New Zealand’s Auckland Airport.

Boochani’s visa was sponsored by Amnesty International New Zealand, after he was invited to speak at the WORD Christchurch literary festival. Using nothing but a mobile phone, Boochani wrote the book ‘No Friend But The Mountains’, about his harrowing journey to find freedom and a safe place to rebuild his life, only to be banished to a remote island in the Pacific along with hundreds of other men.

Meg de Ronde, Amnesty International New Zealand’s Executive Director, said:

“We campaign for the rights of refugees around the world. Behrouz is not only a refugee, but a human rights defender whose dedicated journalism from within a detention centre earned him several awards and accolades.

“The New Zealand government has stepped up and shown leadership by allowing the acclaimed journalist and writer to visit for this event. Refugees are people who deserve a safe home, and a life of freedom and dignity. It’s great to see Behrouz’s talents recognised and rewarded in this way.

“For Behrouz to be able to appear at WORD Christchurch, it’s a testament to the human will to survive. Like thousands of others trapped in the cruelty of offshore detention, he simply wants freedom in a safe place. This is a spark of hope after he has fled violence and persecution, first in Iran and then from Australian authorities.”

Boochani will appear at the WORD Christchurch festival on November 29, video footage and audio will be available from the event.

History of Australia’s illegal policy of ‘offshore processing’

Amnesty has long documented human rights violations in Australia’s illegal policy of ‘offshore processing’. It is a humanitarian crisis where thousands of people have been stranded in detention centres indefinitely, in conditions that amount to torture. In October, the Australian government confirmed that 562 refugees and asylum seekers remain in Papua New Guinea and Nauru under these cruel policies.

Meg de Ronde said:

“Around 500 refugees and asylum seekers remain in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, countries that cannot protect their liberty, safety and security.

“These people were forced to flee persecution – and after nearly seven years, hundreds are still waiting for their freedom. Their courage to continue fighting for their freedom is nothing short of inspirational. In the face of shocking disregard for their rights and humanity, they continue to show a perseverance of will and hope that few people possess.

"There are solutions: Behrouz is the latest example of the solutions available. The Australian Government should get out of the way and let these people be free."

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