Last night Behrouz Boochani sent RAPBS three photographs accompanied by a statement expressing his determination to resist being removed from Manus camp to what amounts to a life sentence of “permanent settlement” on PNG.
“I arrived in Australia 3 years ago and asked Australia for asylum under international law. The Labor government of Australia exiled me to their prison camp in Manus Island PNG by force. I have been imprisoned here for almost 3 years and have been under a lot of pressure to fill in the protection application in PNG but I have constantly denied to do so. I did not arrive in PNG and did never give the PNG government my case for asylum. I have never wanted to resettle in this country.
This is part of my fight. I have worked hard and tirelessly during the last 3 years to send out Manus voice. I wrote lots of articles and pieces in my real name and fake name. I have worked hard with film-makers, fellow journalists, organisations and lawyers but now I want to send out Manus voice by my body. I don’t have any other way”.
These photographs stand as poignant testimony to Boochani’s indomitable spirit. His fragile body has been wracked by years of starvation, pain and illness and subjected to cruel and inhumane conditions of confinement in the infamous Chauka isolation cell. Yet it will not be broken.
What we see in these photographs is evidence of Behrouz Boochani’s unshakable moral force and fighting spirit.
As we write these words, Boochani has climbed into a tree to escape the PNG police who have been sent to evict him forcibly from the compound and eventually from the camp. A group of other inmates stand around the tree, in the pouring rain, to show their solidarity, putting their own bodies on the line.
RAPBS calls on all of us in Australia who support the “humane values” which Behrouz is determined to protect with the whole force of his body and will: STAND WITH BEHROUZ.
Professor Suvendrini Perera with Professor Joseph Pugliese, Janet Galbraith