The Guardian: Behrouz Boochani, the Kurdish Iranian refugee and journalist who became the voice of those incarcerated on Manus Island, has landed in New Zealand and says he will never return to Papua New Guinea or Australia’s immigration regime.
“I will never go back to that place,” he told the Guardian, shortly after leaving PNG. “I just want to be free of the system, of the process. I just want to be somewhere where I am a person, not just a number, not just a label ‘refugee’.”
Over the course of six years forcibly held by Australia’s offshore processing regime in PNG, Boochani emerged as the voice of the Manus Island detention centre and a tireless campaigner for the rights of those detained by Australia. He has written extensively for the Guardian on life in detention and won Australia’s richest literary prize for his book, No Friend But the Mountains.
A long flight to freedom: how refugee Behrouz Boochani finally left his island jail behind
His arrival in New Zealand will be of acute political sensitivity in Australia. The Australian government has consistently refused overtures from New Zealand to resettle refugees held in offshore detention, arguing it would undermine Australia’s hardline policies towards boat arrivals.
Boochani told the Guardian he was elated to be free and was trying to adjust to a still-indeterminate liberty.
“After more than six years, I am very, very tired,” he said. “But I am glad to be away from that place.
“Everyone in Manus carries so many painful memories, we can never leave them on that island … but I am happy in my heart: I feel free >>>