Behrouz Boochani: ‘The Albanese government is continuing refugees’ psychological torture’

July 19, 2022
Behrouz Boochani
Behrouz Boochani. Photo: Hoda Afshar/Wikimedia Commons (CC By SA 4.0)

Behrouz Boochani, the Iranian Kurdish journalist, writer and film producer has always spoken the truth about the inhumanity of mandatory detention. Boochani was imprisoned on Manus Island in 2013 by Kevin Rudd’s Labor government, where he remained until it closed in 2017. Boochani settled in New Zealand in 2020.

Below is a Twitter thread he released on July 19, to mark nine years since the Rudd Labor government decided that no refugee who arrived in Australia by boat would ever be resettled here.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) said about 110 refugees are still being held on Nauru and 100 in Papua New Guinea “in critical need of permanent resettlement”, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic strains already inadequate social and medical services in those countries.

ASRC said that after being held in detention centres in Australia and offshore, more than 1000 refugees are now living in the community on “punitive and harmful temporary visas, which deny them the basic rights to rebuild their lives. For 14 people the conditions of detention have cost them their lives”.


Today is the anniversary of July 19 policy which banished thousands of refugees to Manus and Nauru islands. Nine years later this tragedy continues.

The new Labor government has been silent in front of this ongoing tragedy, as they follow the past Liberal government’s policies and practices.

So far none of Australia’s hostages in Port Moresby or Nauru have been transferred to Australia.

The [Anthony] Albanese government is continuing the psychological torture, sending a letter this past week to refugees already transferred to Australia saying: “You will never settle permanently in Australia. You don’t have any future in this country.”

The [Australian government’s] agreement with New Zealand does not include the men still hostage in Port Moresby. They have been left behind, like [the] Liberal government did.

The only thing [the] Labor government have done was send the family from Biloela home to Biloela.

This provided huge publicity for the government as they took happy photos with the family in a very populist and hypocritical act.

They have used the family to show themselves as good and the public, stuck in white saviour culture, are satisfied and can now pretend that real change has happened.

But the torturous policy continues to be enacted in the body and lives of refugees. Nothing has changed.

[Behrouz Boochani’s memoir, No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, won the Victorian Prize for Literature and the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Nonfiction in January 2019. The book was tapped out on a mobile phone in a series of single messages over time and translated from Persian into English by Omid Tofighian.]

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