Iranian Kurdish refugee recognized for documenting Australia’s offshore detention.
Iranian Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani has won the Anna Politkovskaya investigative journalism award for his work documenting Australia’s offshore immigration detention program.
The award, named after the Russian journalist who was killed in Moscow in 2006, is bestowed by the Italian magazine Internazionale each year during the Internazionale festival to recognize excellence in investigative reporting.
Boochani, a refugee who fled Iran, has lived in Australia’s immigration detention system since 2013, first on Christmas Island and then on Manus Island. The Australian government has barred all asylum seekers arriving by boat from settling in Australia since 2013.
Over five years, he has written regular diaries of his experiences for Guardian Australia, contributed to the Saturday Paper, co-directed a documentary he secretly shot on a mobile phone inside Manus, and this year published the book No Friend but the Mountains, written mostly by text message from within detention.
His work documents the poor living conditions, riots, deaths and self-harm attempts on Manus, and the despair and resilience of the asylum seekers held in detention.
On Friday, he received his award in absentia, as he is in a refugee accommodation Centre in Papua New Guinea. “I believe this international recognition proves what the Australian government has done on Manus and Nauru is a global issue,” he told Guardian Australia.
“This award is to shame the politicians who take pride in torturing innocent people. Events and awards as such create new spaces for us to have a dialogue about this important issue. And as always, makes me more determined to continue with my activism and write.”
The award’s organizers paid tribute to Boochani’s “commitment to condemning a fact which has been intentionally kept out of the spotlight”.
“In a time that Italy, as other European countries, are affected by politicians that look at Australia as a model for migration control, with this award we ideally connect to Behrouz Boochani and all the migrants who have ended up in this cruel political system.”
Boochani, who was born in Kurdistan, fled Iran in 2013 after revolutionary guards broke into the offices of his newspaper. He arrived on Christmas Island, a territory of Australia, in July that year, and was moved to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea in August.
Last year Boochani won an Amnesty International award for Australian media for his Manus diaries.
The Anna Politkovskaya award for journalism is distinct from the Anna Politkovskaya Award, awarded in France, which goes to women who defend human rights.
The Guardian | PUKmedia